Garza Pitched It … Castro Hit It … Cubs Win Fourth in a Row – Cubs 1 Pirates 0

Game One Hundred Eleven – Cubs 1 Pirates 0
WP – Matt Garza (5-8) LP – Chris Resop (3-3) Save – Carlos Marmol (22)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their fourth straight game for the first time this season behind another strong performance from Matt Garza … and one swing of the bat from Starlin Castro.

Matt Garza put together another excellent outing. The Pirates never really threatened against Garza and put two runners on base in the same inning only once. Garza gave up four hits over his seven-plus shutout innings and struck out seven Pirates on Wednesday night. Garza issued two free passes, one in third and the other to start the eighth. Matt Garza threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes, and picked up his first victory since June 27.

Starlin Castro recorded his third three-hit game of the series, 18th of the season, and the longest homer of his big league career was the difference in the game. Castro finished the game 3-for-4 with his fourth longball of the season … the Cubs’ shortstop is 9-for-14 in the series.

Sean Marshall took over with the tying run on in the eighth and retired all three batters he faced. Carlos Marmol picked up his 22nd save after hitting Derrek Lee to start the ninth. Marmol struck out two and did not walk a batter.

Bob Davidson ejected Tyler Colvin and Mike Quade after Colvin was caught looking at strike three to end the top of the fifth. Both Colvin and Quade appeared to be walking away from Balkin’ Bob Davidson before the veteran umpire threw them out of the game.

The Cubs offense managed only seven hits and finished the game 0-for-9 with RISP, seven left on base. Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a double) and Carlos Pena (2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks) had good nights at the plate … and in the field.

Q’s squad won their first road series since sweeping the two-game series in Miami in the middle of May (May 18 – May 19) and won their first road series of three games or more since taking two of three from the Dodgers in Los Angeles in the first week of May (May 2 – May 4).

With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 46-65 on the season … 19 games below .500.

After the Cubs went down in order on 13 pitches (eight for strikes) against Charlie Morton in the first, Andrew McCutchen led off the home half with a single off Aramis Ramirez. McCutchen ripped a 1-2 pitch towards third that Ramirez could not keep in front of him. The ball ended up in left center and McCutchen reached.

Garza struck out Garrett Jones swinging but McCutchen took off for second on the 1-2 pitch and Soto’s throw sailed high. Neil Walker grounded out to Barney in the hole, McCutchen advanced to third but was stranded when Derrek Lee lined out to short to end the inning.

Matt Garza did not fool the Pirates in the first but did not allow any runs and threw 16 pitches, 11 for strikes.

Carlos Pena led off the second with a double to left. Q’s offense then got extremely aggressive and made three outs on seven pitches … Byrd grounded out to short, Soto grounded out to third and Soriano grounded out to third.

The Pirates did nothing against Garza in the second.

After Tyler Colvin and Matt Garza struck out to start the third, Starlin Castro reached on a bloop single to right center. Castro took off for second on a 0-1 pitch to Barney and was thrown out to end the inning.

As the rain really started falling, Garza walked Michael McKenry to start the third. Charlie Morton dropped down a bunt to Pena who looked at second. Pena did not have a good grip on the ball and threw to Barney for the sure out. McCutchen lined out to left and Jones swung over the top of an excellent slider from Garza to end the inning.

It took Garza 42 pitches (27 for strikes) to record the first nine outs of the game.

Carlos Pena recorded his second opposite field double of the game with two outs in the fourth. Pena hit the ball of the end of the bat, it landed fair and one-hopped sideways into the stands. Byrd broke his bat and lined back to Morton to end the inning.

Derrek Lee ripped a one-out single into left center past a diving Starlin Castro in the fourth. Garza struck out Ludwick. Alvarez shattered his bat on Garza’s first pitch but muscled the ball into left center. With runners on first and second with two out, Cedeno flied out to right center (2-1 pitch).

Charlie Morton struck out the side in the fifth. Following the strike three call to Tyler Colvin, Bob Davidson ejected Colvin from the game. Colvin voiced his displeasure as he walked away and appeared to be frustrated with himself and the call. Balkin’ Bob did not like what he heard and tossed him.

Mike Quade came out to defend Colvin and as Quade was walking away, Davidson tossed Quade as well.

The Pirates did nothing against Garza in the fifth.

After Morton struck out Garza (fourth straight) to start the sixth, Starlin Castro blooped a single into left. Darwin Barney ripped a single to left on a 2-1 pitch … the first ball the Cubs squared up on the night. Aramis Ramirez flied out to right on the first pitch.

Carlos Pena worked a walk to load the bases … but Marlon Byrd swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second to end the inning.

Garza sat down the Pirates in order in the sixth, with a little help from Darwin Barney on a Derrek Lee pop up into shallow center. Garza threw 86 pitches, 58 for strikes, in the first six innings.

Geovany Soto walked on four pitches to start the seventh. Alfonso Soriano smashed the first pitch down the third baseline. Alvarez was playing on the line and snagged the ball for the first out. Reed Johnson hit for the first time and chopped out to first. Soto advanced to second but Garza struck out swinging to end the inning.

Ryan Ludwick led off the seventh and struck out swinging. Pedro Alvarez lined a 0-1 pitch into left. Ronny Cedeno popped Garza’s first pitch into right. With two down, Michael McKenry popped out to Barney in shallow right to end the inning.

After seven, Garza had thrown 97 pitches, 67 for strikes.

Chris Resop took over for Charlie Morton in the eighth.

Starlin Castro led off the eighth and took a very close pitch on a 2-2 offering from Resop. The Pirates barked but Bob Davidson called it ball three. Castro launched Resop’s next pitch into the stands in left center … possibly the longest homer of Castro’s big league career. Starlin’s fourth longball of the year gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Darwin Barney followed with a double to right. After Aramis Ramirez stuck out swinging, Carlos Pena was intentionally walked. With runners on first and second with one out, Marlon Byrd hit a 2-2 pitch to Walker at second … 4-6-3 double play. Inning over.

Matt Garza started the bottom of the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Matt Diaz. Diaz tried to check his swing on a 3-2 pitch and barely held up. Clint Hurdle sent Xavier Paul into run for Diaz and Pat Listach went to his pen for Sean Marshall.

Andrew McCutchen flied out to deep right center on a 2-2 pitch. Steve Pearce hit for Garrett Jones and popped out to right. Neil Walker stepped in and on a 1-1 pitch, Paul stole second. Marshall fell behind 3-1 to the newest Cubs’ killer. Walker reached out and smoked Marshall’s next pitch towards third. Ramirez snagged the low liner to end the inning … Walker’s 20-game hitting streak against the Cubs’ came to an end.

The Cubs did nothing against Jose Veras in the top of the ninth.

Carlos Marmol took the hill in the ninth and made it interesting.

Marmol threw strike three to Derrek Lee on a 2-2 pitch but Bob Davidson did not ring up Lee on a pitch right down the middle. Marmol hit Lee on the next pitch to put the tying run on first. Ryan Ludwick bunted on a 0-1 pitch toward first. Pena threw to Barney for the second out. Lee advanced to second with the tying run.

Carlos Marmol struck out Pedro Alvarez swinging (3-2 pitch) and pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the game.

Four in a row …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Rodrigo Lopez will face James McDonald in the series finale Thursday night at PNC.

Quote of the Day

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