Cubs Snap Skid in St. Louis – Cubs 6 Cardinals 3

Game One Hundred Eight – Cubs 6 Cardinals 3
WP – Ryan Dempster (8-8) LP – Jake Westbrook (9-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (20)

wflag.jpgQ’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.

Ryan Dempster and Jake Westbrook locked in a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings of Sunday night’s game. Dempster faced one over the minimum through the first four innings and Westbrook had a perfect game going through five. The Cubs made Westbrook throw only 44 pitches (30 for strikes) in five innings.

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 …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a four-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday night … Carlos Zambrano against Paul Maholm in the opener.

Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • KevininSandiego

         In case you missed it. I called in to Round trip tonight and asked why a Big Market can’t rebuild? I basically got to the Cubs would take more time because of the Big Contracts and Lack of Major League ready talent. They also said that the Cubs have done a poor job evaluating players. So Cub fans we are looking at a long bad streak.

    • Neil

      Kevin, I heard the response and I agree with what they said. That was a good question.

      • KevininSandiego33

        I stand by my response I don’t mind losing if there is improvement. I think it is going to be a long next 3 years.

        • Tony_Hall

          Exactly!  This is not going to be turned around quickly. When you keep trading away prospects for vets, signing 30 something vets, etc, you are playing for this year.  Even though the owner has publicly said that they want to build through the farm system, their moves say just the opposite.

          • Richard Hood

            I agree and disagree with that Tony. It matters what vets. If you can get a Hunter Pence or a Matt Kemp. You do it. If you are talking about trading for more pieces then I have an issue with it. As far as free agents why would you want the ones that come to a loosing team anyway?

          • Tony_Hall

            Matt Kemp turns 27 this year, is a difference maker at his position.
            Hunter Pence is 28, is a borderline difference maker at his position.

            Carlos Pena is not a difference maker.
            Marlon Byrd is not a difference maker.
            Fukudome, Soto, Dempster, Zambrano, Grabow, Baker, are not difference makers at their positions.  With this roster, I could go on and on and on…

            Difference makers are worth trading for, and paying.  All the rest are just pieces to the puzzle, you need all the pieces, but it’s not as critical as the corner pieces, that need to be difference makers.

            We can only accept players, willingly to go to a losing team, at this point.

          • wildtyme

            Tony you make a great point, but nobody has difference makers up and down the lineup, and as the Yankees prove, even overspending for them doesn’t always get you the Series trophy.  Smartest thing to do now is to put the extremely overpaid but still under contract for 2012 players on the waiver wire and hope you get something.  After that, accept the fact that the ones left are gonna be on the team next year because of their contracts, and look to significantly upgrade the other positions.  Would Soriano and Byrd need to leave if you had a quality RF?  Could Ramirez, Castro, and Barney help an infield with a 1B who could hit over .250?  Could  Zambrano, Dempster and Garza still be big-league starters if you picked up two proven starting pitchers?  Can they find any relievers who don’t walk the lead-off man?  Forget finding a new center fielder and second baseman every other year and switching one bunch of no-name middle relievers for another every year.  Those moves mean nothing and the Cubs make them all the time.  Turn your glaring weak spots into assets then get rid of the dead weight one at a time.    

          • Tony_Hall

            Where did I say that you need difference makers up and down the lineup?

            It would be nice to have a few, though!

            Of course the rotation would be better if Zambrano and Dempster were 4 and 5, with Garza 3.  But where are you going to get a #1 or #2?  Pitching needs to come from within, and that requires better drafting and better player development than the Cubs have shown capable of doing.

            Add Pujols or Fielder at 1B, and of course, the rest of the lineup looks better.  Players are playing out of slot in the lineup, due to the fact we have no difference makers.  

            But that doesn’t mean you keep guys, like Pena, who are not signed for next year.  You trade him for whatever you can get, save the cash, and move on.

        • Brp921

          Show improvement, that is the key. I’ve been telling my sons that I would be O.K. with losing for a couple two or three years, if I could believe we we are building a solid foundation for a team that could begin winning consistantly. Once the foundation is there, then add the free agent here and there that you believe can put you over the top. This idea of adding the aging veteran every year so we can “be in contention” again is getting us nowhere.

  • Tony_Hall

    It’s good to know that Pena thinks JH did the admirable thing, by not trading him.  Pena’s comments, make me think that JH is even a worse GM, as it is obvious, he would resign if you wanted to bring him back.

    With the way his contract is structured, with so little of it paid for this season so far, put him on waivers, and let the team have him, if the team won’t give you much in return.  We have other players, who could use the next 2 months, playing 1B, to see if they are capable.  Otherwise, we will be have to overpay to sign a FA 1B.  It would be nice to get a Fielder or Pujols, but not sure any of us will like the contract during the second half of the deal.  And since this team isn’t even close, why would either want to play for the Cubs.  Do you think Pujols was not watching this weekend?   He wouldn’t want to go from a Tony Larussa type manager, to go to the Keystone Cubs.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree Tony, have thought that all along about Pujols and Fielder, they have a reputation to protect and it sure wouldnt go anywhere with the Cubs. And
      LaRussa as a manager, the man is Ruthless in his approach to winning, not satisfied just to win, he wants to destroy the other team, so they remember it for the next time you play them, and his players reflect the attitude, it not, they are gone (Rasmusun) spell?.

  • Tony_Hall

    The August waivers will be interesting, since teams run all of their players through at some point in the month, and with us having so many “untouchables”, JH should have lots of teams making claims, trying to get these All-Stars.  

    My guess is we have very few players claimed at all, and that almost all of our players will pass through waivers and be able to still be traded to anyone.  Of course JH might be dumb enough to not let someone take Soriano, Alex Rios style…

  • Gkrab1

    I don’t think the Cubs should spend any money going after a first baseman. Instead of eating Soriano’s money because lets face it, it is business and you try to make money put him at first he use to play second he can’t play left maybe give it try he will still hit 20 – 25 home runs. Let the kids play the outfield and go after pitching with the extra money.

    • paulcatanese

      That would be the worst mistake in the History of Baseball. While I can appreciate the thought that you have put into that, It just would not work. I had posted several months ago about the same thing and had answered that the Cubs would never record an out at first as Soriono would be too busy hopping and skipping on the throws over to first. And can you envision a ground ball hit to him and he has to decide where to throw the ball? People would be around the bases before he does anything. Soriono is a good guy, and I like him as a person, but not as a defensive player anywhere on the field.

  • paulcatanese

    Well, the Cubs have turned it around, now they can only win on Sundays.

  • roseyc

    The Yankees didn’t make a move and if they fall they might claim Zambrano off the waiver wire just give them time and they got Larry there who knows him it maybe a long shot but the Cubs won’t be able get better until Z and Soriano are gone. Either way I’m sort of glad because I don’t want Hendry rebuilding this club. I certainly don’t won’t Quade managing it

    • Richard Hood

      Actually the Yankees and the Cubs are in the same boat in one regard. Ownership that has stepped in to block or try trades because of lame duck GM’s.

    • wildtyme

      I agree with you on Quade…like the guy, but way in over his head.  Can’t agree with you on Soriano or Z.  They are both huge salary, but there is still some gas in the tank.  And unless the Yanks or Red Sox get involved, no one else can afford them, so you have to rebuild around them, not without them.

  • roseyc

    Neil can you post the contracts that as Hendry say are coming off the books for the Cubs next year and what is owed to Zambrano and Soriano and Dempster before their contracts are over

    • Neil
      • wildtyme

        Ya know, it’s real easy to second guess and say there’s some bad contracts there.  But there’s only 4 players making big money and you won’t touch any decent free agents for any less.  And these four players, while not playing otherwordly, are not the reason the Cubs stink.  And whoever signs Albert and Prince will have the same problems in five years that the Cubs have now. 

      • roseyc

        Thanks Neil Your a Pro’s Pro

  • paulcatanese

    Another stellar lineup tonight, but the only thing that peaks my interest is the showdown between D. Lee and Pena as hte Cubs would be hard pressed to
    do any better than they did last night, one of the best games they have played all
    year, although I would hope they spead it around for more than one inning.

  • BosephHeyden

    Alright! We’re right back in it!