What a Game … What a Comeback … Cubs Win! – Cubs 10 Nationals 9

Game Eighty-Nine – Cubs 10 Nationals 9
WP – Sean Marshall (5-2) LP – Henry Rodriguez (3-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (18)

wflag.jpgOn a night that was shaping up to be another embarrassing loss, the Cubs mounted their biggest come from behind victory in over three years … May 30, 2008 against the Rockies at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs were down 8-0 going into the sixth inning after a horrible outing from Matt Garza and three more errors by the Cubs defense. Garza allowed seven runs in the third inning and was lifted without recording a single out. The Nationals tacked on another unearned run in fourth and with a commanding 8-0 lead they appeared to be well on their way to completing the four-game sweep. But the Cubs pen kept the Nationals off the board in the fifth and the offense came alive in the sixth.

The Cubs scored six runs, all with two outs in the sixth inning and chased Livan Hernandez from the game. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI) drove in the Cubs first run with what appeared to be a harmless single but Darwin Barney drove in two with his first double of the night and all of a sudden the Cubs were down by five runs.

Blake DeWitt pinch-hit for James Russell with two on and two outs in the sixth. DeWitt ripped a 1-2 pitch down the right field line. The ball hit the foul pole and the third pinch-hit homer of DeWitt’s career cut the Nationals lead to 8-6.

Carlos Pena (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) tied the game at eight with his 19th homer of the season in the seventh. Pena lined lefty Sean Burnett’s pitch over the wall in right. It was the fourth time this season and the second in as many days that Pena has taken a southpaw deep.

Aramis Ramirez (2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and a RBI) gave the Cubs a one-run lead with a two-out single in the eighth that plated Starlin Castro. But the Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Sean Marshall.

Darwin Barney (3-for-5 with two doubles, a run scored and three RBI) completed his big night by driving in Tony Campana with the eventual winning run in the ninth.

The Cubs scored eight of their 10 runs with two outs on Thursday night.

Matt Garza seemed to be in cruise control before the third inning. Garza was coming off his best outing of the season and struck out four of the first eight batters he faced Thursday. Garza started leaving everything up in the third and was lifted without recording an out … Thursday was the second shortest outing of Garza’s career (1 1/3 innings on June 18, 2010 against the Marlins). Garza’s final line: seven runs, six earned, on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts on 67 pitches 40 for strikes.

Thursday marked the third time this season Cubs’ pitching allowed seven runs in a single inning (last time, May 16 in Cincinnati)

Mike Quade’s pen did a very good job in relief of Matt Garza. Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, John Grabow, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.

The Cubs avoided their first ever four-game sweep in Washington with Thursday’s improbable comeback victory.

With Thursday’s win, the Cubs improved to 11-17 in one run games (all four games in the series decided by one run) and to 36-53 on the season … 17 games below .500.

Both teams had chances to put runs on the board in the first inning … but neither the Cubs nor the Nationals could get a hit with RISP. Livan Hernandez and Matt Garza put two on with one out and struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.

The Cubs did nothing against Hernandez in the second … and the Nats went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second against Garza on 13 pitches.

After the Cubs went in order in the third, the Nationals appeared to put the game away in the bottom of the third … one hit a time.

Livan Hernandez led off the bottom of the third with a single to center. Roger Bernadina followed with a double down the right field line and Danny Espinosa singled to center on a 3-2 pitch to give the Nats a 2-0 lead … and Washington was nowhere near being done.

Ryan Zimmerman tapped a 2-2 pitch to the third base side of the mound. Garza picked the ball up and made his fifth wild throw (fifth charged error) of the season to first base. The ball ended up in the stands and the Nats had runners on second and third with no outs.

Everything was up in the zone for Garza in the third and Michael Morse deposited another one of Garza’s mistakes into centerfield. Espinosa scored … 3-0 on the Nationals fifth straight hit.

Jayson Werth then reached on an infield single to Barney. Zimmerman scored … 4-0 on the Nats sixth hit in a row. Rick Ankiel hit a 3-2 rocket to first that took a bad hop and hit Carlos Pena in the mouth. The Cubs second error of the inning loaded the bases and Ankiel was the eighth straight to reach against Matt Garza.

Wilson Ramos doubled down the right field line on a 2-0 pitch. Morse and Werth scored on the Nationals seventh hit of the inning … and chased Matt Garza from the game. Garza threw 33 pitches in the third and did not record a single out.

Jeff Samardzija took over and struck out Desmond swinging for the first out of the inning. With runners on second and third, the infield in and one down, Hernandez hit a grounder to third. Ramirez made a nice diving stop, held Ankiel at third and threw out the jogging Hernandez at first base.

The Nationals made it 7-0 when Bernadina singled to left on a 2-0 pitch and drove in Ankiel. The incredibly embarrassing inning came to and end when Espinosa (the 12th batter of the inning) flied out to right.

The Cubs managed a two-out single (Marlon Byrd) in the top of the fourth but that was all and the Nationals added another run in the bottom of the fourth.

Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error by Kosuke Fukudome to start the fourth. Zimmerman hit a routine pop up into shallow right that Barney and Fukudome allowed to fall. The Cubs third error of the game allowed Zimmerman to make it to second.

Samardzija struck out Morse swinging and retired Werth on a pop out to shallow left but Rick Ankiel just missed a home run and had to settle with a double off the wall in right. Zimmerman scored … 8-0 Nationals. Wilson Ramos tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

To add insult to bad baseball, Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija with one out in the fifth. Baker lined a ball into right center that Ankiel cut off before it made it to the wall. Baker rounded first and tried to advance to second but was gunned down for the second out of the inning. Down by eight runs? Really?

Fukudome grounded out to second to end the inning and the Cubs looked out of it and incredibly disinterested.

James Russell kept the Nationals from tacking on in the bottom of the fifth after allowing a leadoff single to Ian Desmond. Hernandez sacrificed Desmond to second but Russell retired Bernadina (pop out to short) and Espinosa (ground out to short) to end the inning.

Livan Hernandez took an 8-0 lead into the top of the sixth against the lifeless Cubs.

Starlin Castro grounded out to short to start the sixth. Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to left. After Carlos Pena struck out swinging, Geovany Soto singled to center. With two on and two out, Marlon Byrd singled to center on Hernandez’s first pitch to load the bases.

Alfonso Soriano ripped Hernandez’s first pitch into left. Ramirez scored the Cubs first run of the game.

Darwin Barney followed and ripped a 2-2 pitch into left center. Ankiel cut the ball off just before it reached the wall. Soto and Byrd scored … 8-3 Nationals. Mike Quade went to his bench and sent up Blake DeWitt to hit for James Russell.

Blake DeWitt fell behind 0-2 before looking at a ball out of the strike zone. Blake DeWitt then turned on Hernandez’s next offering and ripped it down the right field line. The ball hit the foul pole and DeWitt’s three-run homer cut the Nationals lead to 8-6 … and chased Hernandez from the game.

Todd Coffey replaced Hernandez and retired Fukudome on a fly out to center to end the inning.

John Grabow retired three of the four batters he faced in the sixth and kept it an 8-6 ballgame.

Roger Bernadina robbed Starlin Castro of an extra base hit to start the seventh. Coffey then jumped ahead of Ramirez 0-2 but Aramis worked a full count before taking ball four. Davey Johnson went to his pen and brought in lefty Sean Burnett to face Carlos Pena.

Carlos Pena greeted Burnett by lining his first pitch over the wall in right … game tied at eight on Pena’s 19th homer of the season and his fourth off a lefty.

Geovany Soto walked on four pitches after Pena’s shot and advanced to second on a wild pitch with Byrd at the plate. Byrd struck out and after falling behind Soriano 2-1, Burnett put Soriano on first base. Barney grounded out to short to end the inning. But the Cubs tied the game after scoring eight unanswered runs.

Sean Marshall retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh.

Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch from Henry Rodriguez into right center. Castro’s two out double gave Aramis Ramirez a chance to break the eight-all tie. Ramirez worked the count to 3-2 before lining a single just out of the reach of Danny Espinosa into right center. Castro scored … 9-8 Cubs. Pena grounded out to Espinosa (in the shift) to end the inning.

Sean Marshall remained in the game and gave up a single to Bernadina to start the bottom of the eighth. Marshall struck out Espinosa for the first out. Bernadina swiped second on the first pitch to Ryan Zimmerman and then advanced to third when Zimmerman grounded out to second.

Michael Morse ripped the first pitch back up the middle and through Marshall’s legs into center. Bernadina scored and the game was tied again. Marshall retired Werth on a grounder to second to send the game into the ninth tied at nine.

Geovany Soto led off the ninth and hit a rocket toward Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals’ third baseman could not get in front of the ball and Soto reached on the infield single. Byrd tried to bunt Soto to second and got the bunt down but Rodriguez threw a strike to a stretching Desmond at second to nail Soto. Tony Campana hit for Sean Marshall and hit a chopper to Desmond on a 0-1 pitch. Byrd was forced and took out Espinosa at second. Campana reached easily but did not stay at first base long.

Tony Campana took off for second on the first pitch to Darwin Barney. With Campana in scoring position, Barney worked the count to 3-1 before collecting his second double of the game. Barney doubled to right and plated Campana with the go ahead run. Johnson flied out to center to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol hit Rick Ankiel on a 0-1 pitch to start the ninth. Wilson Ramos sacrificed him to second then Ankiel advanced to third on wild pitch when Marmol’s 1-1 offering to Matt Stairs got past Soto. Stairs ended up fouling out Ramirez for the second out of the inning.

Laynce Nix pinch hit for Henry Rodriguez and walked on four pitches. Alex Cora ran for Nix … the possible winning run.

Carlos Marmol jumped out in front of Roger Bernadina 0-2. Cora took second uncontested on Marmol’s next pitch. Bernadina flied out to right to end the game.

The Cubs showed a lot of heart with the come from behind victory over the Nationals. If nothing else, Thursday night provided several highlights in a very dismal season.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a three-game series Friday night in Pittsburgh … Rodrigo Lopez against James McDonald in game one.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne