Game One Hundred Eight – Cubs 6 Cardinals 3
WP – Ryan Dempster (8-8) LP – Jake Westbrook (9-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (20)
Q’s squad actually looked like a Major League Baseball team on Sunday night. The Cubs won for the first time on the current 10-game road trip (0-5) and ended their five-game losing streak in St. Louis.
Ryan Dempster and Jake Westbrook locked in a pitcher’s duel in the first five innings before both pitchers gave up multi-runs in the sixth. Westbrook actually took a perfect game into the sixth and Dempster faced just one over the minimum through four innings.
Dempster ended up pitching into the seventh and allowed three runs on seven hits in six-plus innings. Dempster issued one walk and struck out seven on 99 pitches, 66 for strikes. Dempster notched a quality start and really made only one mistake … he served up a three-run homer to Lance Berkman in the sixth.
After looking incredibly bad and making it very easy on Jake Westbrook for the first five innings (44 pitches), the Cubs showed patience in the sixth and scored four runs. The Cubs did not hit a ball out of the infield until the fourth and nine of the first 16 outs were on the ground.
Koyie Hill broke up the perfect game with a one out walk in the sixth and Reed Johnson recorded the Cubs first hit (two outs in the sixth) a batter later. Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) drove in Hill with a ground rule double.
Carlos Pena (0-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) worked a bases loaded walk that forced in the Cubs second run … and Marlon Byrd (2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI) notched his first multi-RBI game since May 19 with a bases loaded single in the sixth.
Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer in as many days in the ninth and his 17th longball of the year, with Marlon Byrd along for the ride, gave the Cubs a little breathing room in the ninth … and turned a one-run lead into a three-run advantage.
Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol pitched the way the Cubs were hoping the big three would when the season began. Marshall pitched out of a jam in the seventh, Wood turned in a web gem to close out the eighth and Carlos Marmol retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts.
The Cubs defense played a mistake-free game and turned two inning ending double plays on Sunday night.
The Cubs won for the second Sunday in a row (4-13 on Sundays in 2011) and improved to 43-65 on the season … 22 games below .500.
David Freese just missed a home run with one out in the fifth. Freese hit the ball off the top of the wall and had to settle for a double. The umpires reviewed but the ruling on the field stood. Yadier Molina flied out to deep right, Freese tagged and advanced to third on the play. Dempster appeared to pitch around Daniel Descalso and issued his first walk of the game. At that point, Dempster really started to labor and fell behind Jake Westbrook 3-1. Westbrook swung at and popped up the 3-1 pitch to Barney in shallow right to end the inning.
Dempster threw 72 pitches in the first five, 47 for strikes.
After Darwin Barney grounded out to short to start the sixth, Koyie Hill worked a walk … the Cubs first baserunner of the game. Dempster bunted Hill to second.
Reed Johnson recorded the Cubs first hit of the game … a single to right on a 1-0 pitch. Hill held at third with two outs in the inning.
Starlin Castro ripped a 1-1 pitch into the gap in right center. The ball hit the track and bounced over the wall for a ground rule double but Hill scored and the Cubs had runners on second and third with two outs.
Jake Westbrook appeared to want nothing to do with Aramis Ramirez and walked him on four pitches to load the bases. Carlos Pena took a borderline pitch on a 2-2 offering before looking at ball four to force in Johnson with the Cubs’ second run.
Marlon Byrd hit Westbrook’s first pitch into right … Castro and Ramirez scored, 4-0 Cubs on Byrd’s first multi-RBI game since May 19 in Florida. Soriano flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs showed a lot of patience against Westbrook and it paid off … they made him throw 33 pitches in the sixth after tossing just 44 pitches in the first five innings.
Skip Schumaker led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to left on a 0-2 pitch. Jon Jay hit a grounder to Pena who threw to Castro to force Schumaker at second. Jay took over at first and advanced to third on a double to left off Albert Pujols’ bat. It was easy to see how bad Soriano’s legs have gotten on that play.
With runners on second and third with one out, Dempster struck out Matt Holliday for the third time in the game (second time looking).
Lance Berkman stepped in and pulled a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right center … and the Cubs four-run lead was cut to one with a swing of the bat. Dempster retired Freese on a fly out to center to end the sixth.
What was a pitcher’s duel through five turned into everything but in the sixth.
The Cubs did nothing against Jason Motte in the seventh … and for some reason Mike Quade let Dempster hit for himself on a hot night in St. Louis with a pitch count in the low 90s (94, 62 for strikes).
Yadier Molina led off the seventh and hit a ball over Ramirez into left field. The ball took a bad hop and went over his left shoulder. Daniel Descalso ripped a 1-2 pitch past Pena and into right field.
Quade finally pulled Dempster as Rafael Furcal, making his Cardinals’ debut, was announced to a standing ovation.
Sean Marshall came in and induced a grounder to second. Descalso was forced at second but Molina advanced to third with one out. Ryan Theriot hit for Skip Schumaker with runners on first and third with one out.
Ryan Theriot showed rare patience and worked the count to 3-1. Theriot hit a chopper to Castro … 6-3 double play, inning over and an excellent job by Sean Marshall.
The Cubs did nothing against Kyle McClellan in the eighth.
Sean Marshall started the eighth and retired Jon Jay on a grounder to first. Marshall stayed in and gave up a single to Albert Pujols. Quade went to his pen and brought in Kerry Wood to face Matt Holliday.
Kerry Wood threw strikes and ended the inning with a spectacular play. Holliday hit a 2-2 pitch back up the box that Wood fielded behind his back and threw to Castro at second to start the 1-6-3 inning ending double play.
The offense gave Carlos Marmol a little breathing room in the top of the ninth.
Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out single to right. Alfonso Soriano put together a good at bat against McClellan that ended with a long homer to left center on a 2-2 pitch. Soriano’s 17th longball of the season and the second in as many games gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead.
Darwin Barney followed Soriano’s homer with a single to right and advanced to third on a single by Koyie Hill. Blake DeWitt hit for Kerry Wood and grounded into a 1-6-3 inning ending double play.
Carlos Marmol struck out Lance Berkman to start the ninth. David Freese singled to center on a 2-2 pitch. Yadier Molina popped out to center and Marmol struck out Descalso to end the game.
It was nice to see the Cubs look like an actual baseball team …
The Cubs open a four-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday night … Carlos Zambrano against Paul Maholm in the opener.