Game One Hundred Fifty-Two – Cubs 2 Astros 1
WP – Rodrigo Lopez (6-6) LP – Henry Sosa (2-5) Save – Sean Marshall (5)
The Cubs beat the Astros for the second day in a row and in the process joined the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as the only three teams in the history of the game to post at least 4,000 victories in their home park.
The Cubs and Astros played another ugly game … but Saturday’s victory guaranteed the Cubs a winning record in the season series against Houston (8-6). Two of the three runs scored on errors and the two teams were charged with three errors in the first two innings. Both pitching staffs had trouble throwing strikes (10 walks) and the two teams were a combined 0-for-22 with RISP and left 22 runners on base.
After an Aramis Ramirez throwing error allowed the Astros to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the first without a hit. Tony Campana (1-for-3 with a run scored, a walk and a stolen base) worked a one out walk, advanced to second on an Aramis Ramirez groundout, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the Astros’ catcher, Carlos Corporan.
The only earned run of the game scored on the Cubs first hit of the afternoon.
Bryan LaHair (1-for-2 with a home run and two walks) crushed Henry Sosa’s first pitch of the fourth inning. The ball hit the batter’s eye beyond the centerfield wall and LaHair’s second longball of the season broke a 1-1 tie. LaHair’s mammoth shot was the 40th of his season … 38 with Iowa and two with the big league team. LaHair has a .433/.541/.833 line since his call-up and has hit safely in 10 of the 11 games he’s had a plate appearance.
Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double) doubled to start the fifth and is just six hits shy of 200 for the season. Castro has reached base safely in 30 straight games. Darwin Barney finished the game 2-for-4 hitting out of the seventh spot of the lineup.
Rodrigo Lopez completed six innings of work for the first time in nine starts and struck out a season-high seven batters on Saturday afternoon. Lopez gave up one unearned run on four hits with two walks in six innings.
Mike Quade used Ramon Ortiz, James Russell and Kerry Wood to get through the seventh and Wood pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts.
Sean Marshall made it interesting in the ninth. Marshall loaded the bases with one out but was able to get out of the jam and earn his fifth save of the year. Marshall struck out Jose Altuve, hitting in Carlos Lee’s spot, and retired pinch-hitter Humberto Quintero on a grounder to second to end the game.
Q’s offense recorded just five hits but walked six times and were a miserable 0-for-8 with RISP, the Cubs left nine runners on base.
The Cubs handed Houston their 100th loss of the year … the first time the Astros have lost 100 games in a season.
With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 67-85 on the year, 18 games below .500 …
Lee hit a grounder to the hole at short (1-1 pitch). Ramirez made a fine diving stop, got to his feet quickly … and threw the ball way. Pena could not scoop Ramirez’s low throw and Schafer scored on the Cubs’ first charged error of the game.
Carlos Lee took off for second on a 3-2 pitch to Brian Bogusevic. The Astros’ right fielder ripped Lopez’s pitch into center. Lee lumbered around second and advanced to third. With runners on first and third with two down, Matt Downs struck out swinging to end the inning.
Lopez struck out the side in the first on 25 pitches, 16 for strikes, but the Astros led the game 1-0.
Starlin Castro was thrown out at first after he checked his swing and tapped the ball in front of the plate. Tony Campana walked on five pitches and advanced to second when Ramirez grounded out to third. Campana then broke for third with Pena at the plate. Carlos Corporan’s throw ended up in left and Campana scored the tying run without a hit. Pena ended up walking to keep the inning going for Bryan LaHair.
LaHair put together a good at bat that ended with a walk on the ninth pitch from Henry Sosa. Alfonso Soriano walked to load the bases with two outs … the Cubs four free pass of the inning.
Darwin Barney showed no patience and tapped back to the mound on Sosa’s 37th pitch of the inning (18 for strikes). Sosa threw home to force Pena to end the inning.
Rodrigo Lopez gave up a leadoff single to Jimmy Paredes to start the second inning. LaHair misplayed the routine outfield grounder in to an error. Paredes ended up at second on the Cubs’ second charged error in as many innings.
Carlos Corporan flied out to deep right. Paredes tagged and advanced to third but was stranded when Sosa struck out swinging … and Schafer bunted back to the mound to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against Sosa in the second … and the young right-hander still had a no hitter after two.
Rodrigo Lopez sat down Houston in order in the third (47 pitches for Lopez, 25 for strikes).
Henry Sosa made quick work of Campana, Ramirez and Pena in third … and still no hits for the Cubs offense. After throwing 37 pitches in the first inning, Sosa’s pitch count stood at 57 after three, 33 for strikes.
Lopez struck out Bogusevic swinging to start the fourth. Matt Downs flied out to deep center but Paredes lined a 0-2 pitch into center. With Carlos Corporan at the plate, Paredes stole second but was stranded when Corporan looked at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Bryan LaHair hit Henry Sosa’s first pitch in the fourth to deep center. The ball hit the base of the batter’s eye and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead on their first hit of the game. Soriano grounded out to third (1-1 pitch). Darwin Barney singled to center but was stranded when Soto struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) and Lopez grounded out to second.
The Astros did nothing against Lopez in the fifth (76 pitches, 55 for strikes).
Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to left … hit #194 and the 30th straight game Castro has reached base safely. But the Cubs wasted the leadoff double. Campana struck out swinging, Ramirez fouled out to Matt Downs (short right field) and Pena struck out swinging.
Lopez made it through the sixth without allowing any runs after issuing two free passes. J.D. Martinez walked to start the inning. Lee popped out to second … Lopez jammed him on a 1-0 pitch. Brian Bogusevic walked on five pitches to put two on with one out. Matt Downs popped out to shallow left and retired Paredes on a flyout to right
Bryan LaHair walked to start the bottom of the sixth, his second free pass of the game. After Soriano popped out to shallow left, Barney singled to center. Geovany Soto worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a liner to Paredes at third. The Astros’ third baseman knocked the ball down and beat LaHair to the bag. Blake DeWitt hit for Lopez and struck out swinging to end the inning.
Ramon Ortiz started the seventh and struck out pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck swinging to start the inning. Quade went back to his pen as soon as Brett Wallace was announced as the pinch-hitter for Henry Sosa. James Russell was called in and Brad Mills went back to his bench for Chris Johnson. Johnson singled to center. Russell struck out Jordan Schafer for the second out … and Quade made the slow walk and brought in Kerry Wood to face Clint Barmes.
Barmes reached down and blooped a 0-2 pitch into left. Johnson held at second with two outs. J.D. Martinez grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the top of the seventh.
Starlin Castro flied out to left on a 2-2 pitch from Enerio Del Rosario to start the seventh. Tony Campana hit a chopper back up the middle over the mound. Campana beat Downs’ throw to first. Aramis Ramirez walked. With two on and one out, Brad Mills went to his pen and brought in Wesley Wright to face Pena.
Carlos Pena struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch and LaHair tapped back to the mound to end the inning (1-2 pitch).
Kerry Wood stayed in the game and issued a leadoff walk to Carlos Lee to start the eighth. Jose Altuve ran for Lee and watched Bogusevic fly out to left center and Downs look at strike three (2-2 pitch). Jimmy Paredes ripped a single into right on a 1-2 pitch. Altuve motored to third. Wood struck out J.B. Shuck looking (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Mark Melancon retired the Cubs in order on eight pitches, all strikes, in the bottom of the eighth.
With Carlos Marmol pitching two innings on Friday, Quade used Sean Marshall in the ninth on Saturday afternoon.
Angel Sanchez hit for J.R. Towles and went with a 1-2 pitch. Sanchez drove the ball into right field for a leadoff single. Jason Bourgeois popped out to second (1-2 pitch) after failing to drop a bunt down on Marshall’s first pitch. Clint Barmes ripped a 2-2 pitch off the third base bag. The ball ended up down the field line and Sanchez held at third with only one out.
After a meeting on the mound, Marshall intentionally walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases with one out.
Jose Altuve, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Carlos Lee in the eighth, struck out swinging for the second out. Humberto Quintero hit for Brian Bogusevic and grounded out to second to end the inning … and the game.
At least the Cubs won on the next to last Saturday of the 2011 season …
The Cubs and Astros square off for the last time in 2011 on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Dempster is slated to face Brett Myers in the series and season finale against Houston.