Game One Hundred Fifty-Six – Cubs 7 Brewers 1
WP – Matt Garza (9-10) LP – Randy Wolf (13-10) Save – None
The Twenty-Eleven version of the Chicago Cubs played their final home game of the season Wednesday afternoon and beat the Milwaukee Brewers at their own game. The Cubs out-hit and out-pitched their division rivals.
The Cubs lost the season series with Milwaukee (6-10) but took two of three in this series as the Brewers tried to close out the division.
The young Cubs ended up being the difference in the series. After Geovany Soto and Casey Coleman led the way on Monday night, it was Matt Garza, Starlin Castro and D.J. LeMahieu’s turn on Wednesday … with a little help from Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto.
Matt Garza tossed a complete game gem … his second nine-inning performance in as many starts. Garza is one of only two pitchers on the Cubs staff to throw nine innings in a start this season (Randy Wells). Garza has completed nine innings of work in three starts … but Wednesday was the first time he’d posted a victory (1-1 with a no decision).
On a day with the wind blowing out, Matt Garza kept the high-powered Brewers offense in check. Garza allowed one unearned run on six hits with a walk, a hit by pitch and 10 strikeouts. Garza threw 123 pitches (88 for strikes) and other than Jerry Hairston, Jr. (2-for-4 with a double) he kept Milwaukee off balance all afternoon.
Starlin Castro’s quest of reaching the 200 hit mark during the homestand fell one short in the last game of the year at Wrigley. Starlin Castro (2-for-3 with a double, a RBI, a run scored and two walks) notched two hits and walked twice, once intentionally. Castro received a standing ovation as he stepped to the plate in the eighth one hit shy. The Brewers did not give him anything to hit.
Starlin Castro reached base for the 34th game in a row and tied a mark set by Woody English in 1929 for the most consecutive games reached base by a Cubs shortstop (34). Castro is nine short of the 43 games Jerome Walton reached safely in 1989.
D.J. LeMahieu (2-for-5 with a double, two RBI and a run scored) got the start at third for the injured Aramis Ramirez. LeMahieu ended up delivering the game winning hit in the fifth inning after Randy Wolf intentionally walked Castro to face him with two outs and the game tied at one. LeMahieu was solid in the field until he lost an infield pop up in the sun in the ninth that was ruled the Cubs’ second error of the game. LeMahieu started two around the horn double plays on Wednesday afternoon.
Marlon Byrd (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) gave Garza a lot of breathing room in the sixth. Byrd hit his ninth home run of the year off Wolf and the three-run shot gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead. Bryan LaHair was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored hitting out of the eighth spot in Quade’s lineup.
Geovany Soto (3-for-4 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) put together another good game against Brewers’ pitching. Soto doubled in D.J. LeMahieu in the seventh, the Cubs last run of the season at the old ballyard.
Quade’s offense pounded out 13 hits, walked three times and finished the game 4-for-12 with RISP and left seven on base.
The only negative from Wednesday’s game was the two charged errors (Castro and LeMahieu) that added to the Cubs’ league worst total (130).
The Cubs finished the home part of their schedule with a 39-42 mark (4-2 on the last homestand) and the 30,965 on hand Wednesday ran the Cubs attendance total to 3,017,966 for the season … the eighth straight year the Cubs drew over three million in attendance.
With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 69-87 on the season … 18 games below .500 … After an unknown delay postponed the first pitch of Wednesday’s game for five minutes, Matt Garza came out throwing strikes and made quick work of the Brewers in the first. Garza retired the Brewers in order on six pitches, five for strikes.
Starlin Castro stepped in three hits shy of 200 to start the bottom of the first. Castro ripped a 2-0 pitch into the left field corner and hustled out of the box with his sights set on third base. Castro was thrown out at third (7-6-5) for the first out of the inning but at least notched his 198th hit of the season. Randy Wolf retired LeMahieu on a grounder to third and Reed Johnson lined out to third to end the inning.
The Brewers did nothing against Garza in the second.
Geovany Soto reached on a bloop single to right with one out in the second … the Cubs first baserunner of the game. Marlon Byrd lined out to second and Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Brewers got on the board in the third … with held from the Cubs defense.
Yuniesky Betancourt singled to left to start the inning … the Brewers first hit against Garza. George Kottaras struck out swinging. Randy Wolf tried to bunt Betancourt into scoring position but ended up at first after Garza hit him with a 1-0 pitch. Corey Hart hit a grounder up the middle that should have been two. Castro’s shovel to Baker was off the mark and behind Baker, Betancourt scored and the Brewers had runners on first and second with one out and one on the board. Garza struck out Nyjer Morgan swinging and Braun tapped back to Garza to end the inning.
Bryan LaHair led off the bottom of the third with a double. Matt Garza tried to bunt him to second but ended up grounding out to short for the first out.
Starlin Castro ripped Wolf’s first pitch into left. LaHair scored and tied the game at one. LeMahieu struck out swinging and Johnson flied out to center to end the inning.
Matt Garza issued a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder … but that was it for the Brewers in the fourth.
The Cubs did nothing against Wolf in the bottom of the fourth.
Matt Garza ended up facing the minimum in the fifth after giving up a leadoff single to George Kottaras. Randy Wolf struck out and Hart grounded into a 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
Alfonso Soriano led off the fifth with a single to left (0-2 pitch). Bryan LaHair put together a good at bat that resulted in a swinging strikeout (sixth pitch) Matt Garza bunted Soriano to second with one out.
Wolf intentionally walked Castro with the go ahead on second … and LeMahieu made him pay.
D.J. LeMahieu ripped a 0-1 pitch over Morgan’s head in center. With two outs, Castro was running with the crack of the bat. Soriano scored easily and Castro circled the bases and scored the Cubs’ third run Johnson struck out swinging.
At the end of five, the Cubs had a 3-1 lead.
Garza faced the minimum in the sixth. Nyjer Morgan reached on a single to left … but Braun hit into a 5-4-3 double play and Fielder grounded out to second to end the inning.
Jeff Baker led off the sixth with a single to right. Soto blooped a single into center, Baker held at second with no outs. Marlon Byrd lined a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left … and gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead. Alfonso Soriano followed with a double to left and advanced to third when LaHair grounded out to second. Garza struck out swinging and Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.
After six, the Cubs led 6-1.
Garza started the seventh with a manageable pitch count (74) and struck out Rickie Weeks swinging for the first out. Hairston, Jr. doubled over Soriano’s head in left but Betancourt flied out to center on the first pitch and Kottaras struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh against Kameron Loe. LeMahieu led off with a single to right. Reed Johnson followed with a single to left. Blake DeWitt hit for Jeff Baker and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Geovany Soto ripped a double into left and plated LeMahieu with the Cubs’ seventh and final run. Byrd struck out swinging to end the inning.
Garza struck out pinch-hitter Taylor Green to start the eighth. Corey Hart singled to center but Morgan and Braun lined out to second and short to end the inning. Garza’s pitch count stood at 103 (73 for strikes) after eight innings.
Alfonso Soriano grounded out to short against Michael Fiers to start the bottom of the eighth. Bryan LaHair walked and advanced to second when Matt Garza tapped back to the mound on a 2-2 pitch.
Starlin Castro stepped to the plate to a standing ovation but ended up walking on five pitches. With runners on first and second with two down, LeMahieu popped out to center for the third out.
Matt Garza took the hill to start the ninth … and retired Prince Fielder to start the inning. Craig Counsell hit for Weeks and grounded out to second. Hairston, Jr. singled to left on a 1-2 pitch to keep the game going for Yuniesky Betancourt.
The Brewers’ shortstop swung at and popped up Garza’s first pitch behind the mound. LeMahieu called for the ball but lost it in the sun and dropped the ball. With runners on first and third with two down, Garza struck out Kottaras swinging to end the game … Garza’s tenth strikeout on the afternoon.
Two out of three against the Brewers is always a good thing …
Thursday is the Cubs’ final off day of the season. Ryan Dempster will face Chris Carpenter on Friday night in St. Louis. The Cubs have six games remaining on the schedule … three in St. Louis and three in San Diego.