Cubs Played Wells Enough to Beat the Braves – Cubs 3 Braves 2

Game One Hundred Thirty – Cubs 3 Braves 2
WP – Randy Wells (5-4) LP – Derek Lowe (8-12) Save – Carlos Marmol (30)

wflag.jpgOn a hot August night at Wrigley Field, Randy Wells put together his best outing of the season … and without a doubt his best start since his rookie campaign. Wells snapped the Cubs three-game skid and ended the Braves six-game winning streak on a night he allowed only one run on two hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Randy Wells dominated the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night. Wells retired the first 10 batters he faced and allowed just an infield single through the first 6 2/3 innings. Wells made only one mistake and it came with two outs in the seventh inning. Chipper Jones notched the Braves’ second hit of the game off Wells, a solo homer to center that broke up the shutout.

Randy Wells threw 109 pitches, 64 for strikes, and even drove in his first run of the year … and it ended up being the difference in the game.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-2 with a home run, two RBI, a walk and a HBP) hit his 22nd homer of the season in the Cubs’ three-run third inning. Soriano’s two run shot put the Cubs on the board. Soriano collected the 899th and 900th RBI of his career with his two-run homer on Wednesday night.

Tony Campana’s speed led to the Cubs’ third and final run of the game. Campana reached on a fielding error by Dan Uggla, stole second and advanced to third on a balk by Derek Lowe. Randy Wells put a 1-1 pitch into play and Campana took care of the rest. With the infield in, Wells got just enough of a 2-1 pitch to hit a soft, sinking liner to Uggla. Uggla fielded the ball but Campana took off for home … and scored without a throw.

Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an infield single in the fifth. Ramirez finished the game 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. Prior to grounding out to short in the seventh inning, Ramirez had reached base in nine straight plate appearances … the longest streak of his career.

Starlin Castro was 1-for-4 on Wednesday night with two stolen bases.

Darwin Barney was 1-for-4 at the plate and continued to shine in the field. Barney made several excellent plays on Wednesday night including a tremendous over the shoulder catch in medium-depth right field on a ball that Tyler Colvin lost in the lights.

Kerry Wood gave up the Braves’ second run, a solo home run by Alex Gonzalez leading off the eighth … and Carlos Marmol picked up his 30th save of the season by retiring three of the four batters he faced. Marmol joined Lee Smith as the only two relievers in Cubs’ history with back-to-back 30-save seasons. Smith recorded four straight 30-save seasons from 1984-1987.

The Cubs struggled again with runners on base and finished Wednesday’s game 1-for-8 with RISP and left eight more runners on base. Q’s offense is 4-for-35 in the three games against the Braves with runners in scoring position and have left 32 runners on base.

With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 57-73 on the season, 16 games below .500 …

Randy Wells was very sharp in the early innings. Wells mixed his fastball and changeup Wednesday night better than he had all season. Wells started the night by retiring the Braves in order on 12 pitches, six for strikes.

The Braves game plan on Wednesday night was obvious … do not let Aramis Ramirez beat them. Derek Lowe issued a five-pitch walk to Ramirez with two outs in the first inning, the Cubs only baserunner in the opening frame.

The Braves did nothing against Wells in the second inning.

The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the second with a little help from Derek Lowe … and a lot of help from the Braves’ defense.

Tyler Colvin worked a walk to start the inning after being behind 0-2 early in the at bat. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and recorded the Cubs’ first hit of the game … a long homer to straight away center. Soriano’s 22nd homer of the year gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Tony Campana’s speed led to the Cubs’ third run. Campana reached on an error by Dan Uggla following Soriano’s homer. Campana then swiped second on the first pitch to Geovany Soto. Soto eventually struck out swinging.

With Randy Wells at the plate, a balk was called on Lowe that advanced Campana to third. Fredi Gonzalez brought his infield in and Wells hit a low liner to Uggla that hit the ground just before Uggla could make the catch. Campana took off for home and scored without a throw. Uggla tagged Wells for the second out of the inning … but Wells recorded his first RBI of the season in the process.

Starlin Castro then reached on an error by Chipper Jones. Castro hit a chopper toward Chipper who appeared to just short-arm it. Castro reached and promptly stole second with Barney at the plate. Darwin Barney ripped a single into center. Castro hit third but was held by Ivan DeJesus … it was a questionable hold.

Aramis Ramirez walked on four pitches to load the bases for Carlos Pena. Pena grounded out to first on Lowe’s 40th pitch of the inning.

At the end of two, the Cubs had a 3-0 lead.

Wells retired the Braves in order in the third … nine up, nine down on 38 pitches (23 for strikes) in the first three innings for Randy Wells.

The Cubs did nothing against Derek Lowe in the third.

After Michael Bourn failed to get on with a bunt attempt toward third, Martin Prado hit a 3-1 pitch back up the middle that Barney fielded but could not get anything on the throw. Prado reached with a one out infield single in the fourth … the Braves’ first hit of the game.

Wells retired Brian McCann on a pop out to shallow left but issued a two-out walk to Dan Uggla. Wells stayed sharp and struck out Freddie Freeman swinging to end the inning.

Derek Lowe struck out Soto and Wells swinging to start the bottom of the fourth. Starlin Castro singled to center and stole second with Barney at the plate … Castro’s second stolen base of the game. Barney popped out to second to end the inning.

The Braves did nothing against Randy Wells in the top of the fifth.

Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a swinging bunt toward third to start the fifth. Carlos Pena lined out to right and Colvin smoked a ball to Freeman at first. Freeman snagged the liner and stepped on first to end the inning.

Randy Wells appeared to be tiring in the sixth. Wells walked Derek Lowe to start the inning. Geovany Soto appeared to be frustrated with Wells after he shook off several pitches. Michael Bourn grounded out to Barney in the hole at second. Lowe advanced to second then tagged and went to third when Prado flied out to right. Brian McCann popped out to Soriano in shallow left to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano walked on five pitches to start the sixth. Campana hit a weak grounder to Uggla that advanced Soriano to second. Soto struck out swinging and Wells grounded out to short to end the inning.

Randy Wells started the seventh with a one-hit shutout and had thrown 100 pitches, 59 for strikes.

Wells struck out Uggla swinging and retired Freeman on a fly ball to the base of the ivy in right (10 fly ball outs for Wells on Wednesday night). Chipper Jones recorded the Braves’ second hit of the night, a long homer to center. The 449th homer of Jones’ career made it 3-1 Cubs.

Mike Quade went to his pen and brought in Sean Marshall to face Jason Heyward. Heyward grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Derek Lowe in the seventh … and Aramis Ramirez’s string of reaching base in nine straight at bats came to an end with a groundout to short.

Kerry Wood started the eighth and quickly fell behind Alex Gonzalez 3-0. Wood worked the count back to 3-2 but Gonzalez launched the eighth pitch of the at bat into the bleachers just to left of dead away center … 3-2 Cubs. Wood settled down and retired pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad (groundout to first) and Michael Bourn (struck out looking) but issued a two-out walk to Martin Prado (3-2 pitch). Wood jammed McCann on a 0-1 pitch and the Braves’ catcher grounded out to second base to end the inning.

The Cubs loaded the bases again (third time in the series) and came away empty.

Scott Linebrink started the eighth and Carlos Pena dropped a bunt up the third baseline … Pena beat the shift again. Tyler Colvin flied out to deep left center for the first out. Linebrink plunked Soriano on the first pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Tony Campana walked to load the bases.

Geovany Soto lined a 1-2 pitch down the third baseline. Chipper Jones made a diving catch then reached toward third and touched the base with his glove to double up Carlos Pena … the second time on Wednesday night the Cubs smoked a ball just to end up with an inning ending unassisted double play.

Carlos Marmol picked up his 30th save of the season after hitting Dan Uggla on a 0-1 pitch to start the ninth. Marmol struck out Freeman swinging then induced a grounder to second off the bat of Chipper Jones. Barney made a good but gutsy play by throwing to second to nail the lead runner. Jose Constanza ran for Jones but Marmol struck out Jason Heyward looking to end the game.

Randy Wells dominated and the Cubs’ offense did just enough on Wednesday night.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Matt Garza will square off against Brandon Beachy in the season and series finale against the Braves on Thursday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth