Castro and Soriano Deal the Cards a Big Blow – Cubs 5 Cardinals 1

Game One Hundred Fifty-Seven – Cubs 5 Cardinals 1
WP – Jeff Samardzija (8-4) LP – Kyle McClellan (12-7) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs took it to the Cardinals bullpen Friday night in St. Louis. The game was tied at one going into the eighth in a must win game for the Cardinals. Both Ryan Dempster and Chris Carpenter were out of the game and it was up to the bullpens.

The Cubs scored four runs over the final two frames with the big blast coming off the bat of Alfonso Soriano. Soriano hit a three-run homer in the eighth off Kyle McClellan and Starlin Castro added a RBI single in the ninth to cap his big night.

Friday night’s victory in St. Louis will not soon be forgotten … and it has nothing to do with the final score.

Starlin Castro passed the 200-hit mark on Friday night with his 56th multi-hit game of the season. Castro singled to center on Chris Carpenter’s second pitch of the night. Castro finished the game 2-for-5 with a RBI and became the youngest player in Cubs history to collect 200 hits in a single season. Castro reached base safely for the 35th game in a row, a new record for a Cubs’ shortstop. Not only did Castro set franchise records, he also joined some elite company in the history of the game.

Starlin Castro became just the 10th player since 1900 to collect 200 hits in a season by a player 21 years or younger. Castro is the first player since Alex Rodriguez (1995) to accomplish the feat and joins such names as Al Kaline (1955), Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Ty Cobb (1907).

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) picked the right time to hit his first home run of the month. Soriano broke the one-one tie in the eighth with a three-run shot, his 25th longball of the year.

Carlos Pena (1-for-1 with a double, a RBI, a run scored and three walks) doubled in Darwin Barney (2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored) with the tying run off Chris Carpenter in the sixth. Pena also made a little history of his own.

Carlos Pena walked three times on Friday night and in the process he set a modern day record for walks in a single season by a Cubs’ first baseman. Pena has walked 97 times this year and passed Mark Grace on the Cubs All-Time list for the most walks by a first baseman in a single season. Grace walked 95 times in 2000.

Ryan Dempster had a rough night but was able to get within 3 1/3 innings of his 200-inning goal. Dempster gave up just one run on four hits with five strikeouts in six innings … the Cardinals’ lone run scored on a suicide squeeze off the bat of Chris Carpenter. Dempster struggled with his command and walked six batters for the fourth time this season. Dempster threw 106 pitches, 57 for strikes, and received a no decision.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Dempster on Friday night. The Cubs turned two of their three double plays behind Dempster and D.J. LeMahieu made a terrific leaping catch to take away an extra base hit from Ryan Theriot in the fourth. LeMahieu started two of the Cubs’ three double plays (a 5-2-3 to end the sixth and a 5-3 to end the eighth).

Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol kept the Cardinals off the board over the final three innings.

With Friday’s win over the Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers won their first division title since 1982 and their first in the National League. Q’s Cubs won for the 70th time this year (70-87), 17 games under with five left to play …

Starlin Castro made history on the second pitch of the game. Castro singled to center on a 0-1 pitch from Chris Carpenter … hit no. 200 for the Cubs’ 21-year old shortstop. Darwin Barney grounded out weakly to Freese at third. Castro advanced to second with one out. Bryan LaHair struck out swinging.

Carlos Pena worked a walk but Soriano struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster labored through a long first inning. Dempster threw 24 pitches, 11 for strikes, and wiggled his way out of a jam. Jon Jay walked to start the inning. Dempster found his command, for a moment, and struck out Nick Punto looking. On a 2-1 pitch to Albert Pujols, Jay broke for second and it kept the Cardinals out of the double play. Pujols hit a grounder up the middle that Castro fielded and threw to first … his only play. Dempster walked Lance Berkman on a 3-1 pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs.

David Freese launched a 3-2 pitch into deep right center. Marlon Byrd tracked the ball down to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Chris Carpenter in the second.

Dempster continued to struggle in the second. Yadier Molina singled to center on a 0-1 pitch. Skip Schumaker drove Dempster’s first pitch into the gap in right center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall. Molina held at third with no outs on Schumaker’s double.

Ryan Theriot tried to check his swing on a 3-1 offering but ended up tapping back to Dempster. For some reason, Molina broke for the plate. Dempster ran Molina back toward the third base bag and tagged him out. Schumaker ended up at third.

Chris Carpenter squared to bunt with runners on first and third and no outs. Carpenter took ball one. Tony LaRussa put the squeeze on for the second pitch. Carpenter bunted up the first baseline, Schumaker slid in safe and Dempster tagged out Carpenter for the second out. Jon Jay struck out swinging (0-2 pitch) to end the inning. Dempster threw 37 pitches in two innings, 20 for strikes.

Carpenter faced the minimum in the third after giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Dempster (2-2 pitch, single to right). Starlin Castro tapped back to the mound and Carpenter started the 1-4-3 double play. Barney flied out to center to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster dodged another bullet in the bottom of the third. After a long at bat by Nick Punto (eight pitches) resulted in a foul out to Koyie Hill, Albert Pujols ripped a double down the right field line. Dempster wanted nothing to do with Berkman and walked him for the second time in as many at bats.

David Freese stepped in with runners on first and second with one out … and hit a 1-0 pitch to short. Castro started the 6-4-3 inning ending double play. Dempster threw 55 pitches in three innings, 30 for strikes.

Carlos Pena worked a one-out walk in the fourth … his 96th free pass of the season. Soriano flied out to center on the first pitch. Marlon Byrd singled to right center on a 0-2 pitch. Pena held at second with two down. D.J. LeMahieu grounded out to shot (6-4 fielder’s choice) to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster retired the Cardinals in order in the fourth … thanks to a leaping LeMahieu. D.J. LeMahieu robbed Theriot of a double to left with a terrific leaping catch to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order, quickly, in the fifth.

Chris Carpenter (groundout to third base) and Jon Jay (ground out to second base) did not hit the ball out of the infield to start the fifth. Nick Punto worked a walk ahead of Albert Pujols. Dempster stuck out Pujols with his 83rd pitch of the game (47 for strikes) to end the inning.

The Cubs got even in the sixth after Darwin Barney led off with a single to center … the third time in six innings the Cubs put the leadoff hitter on against Carpenter. Bryan LaHair struck out swinging for the first out.

Carlos Pena drove in his 80th run of the year with a double down the right field corner. Barney scored all the way from first, standing, to tie the game at one. Soriano and Byrd failed to drive in Pena from second. Soriano flied out to center and Byrd lined out to third.

Ryan Dempster barely made it out of the sixth. After striking out Lance Berkman to start the inning he walked David Freese (3-2 pitch). LaRussa put the hit and run on with Freese and Molina. On a 3-1 pitch to Molina, Freese broke for second and advanced to third on a single to center. Dempster issued his sixth walk of the game to Skip Schumaker to load the bases with one out.

Ryan Theriot hit Dempster’s first pitch toward third … LeMahieu to Hill to Pena, inning over.

D.J. LeMahieu ripped a 0-1 pitch down the third baseline to start the seventh. Freese short-armed the grounder and LeMahieu ended up at second on the error. Hill bunted LeMahieu to third but pinch hitter Blake DeWitt (groundout to second with the infield in) and Castro (pop out to right on the first pitch) could not drive in LeMahieu with the go ahead run.

Jeff Samardzija started the seventh and retired pinch hitter Adron Chambers on a foul out to LeMahieu. Jon Jay singled to center but was thrown out at second on a botched hit and run with Nick Punto at the plate. Punto worked the count to 3-2 before ripping a single into center.

Albert Pujols stepped in with one on, two down and the game tied at one … Pujols fouled out to Pena to end the inning.

Kyle McClellan replaced Carpenter in the eighth and gave up a leadoff triple to Darwin Barney. Barney ripped a 2-1 pitch into right center and ended up at third. With the infield in, LaHair grounded out to first. McClellan intentionally walked Carlos Pena to face Soriano with two on, one out and the game tied at one.

Alfonso Soriano launched a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left … Cubs 4, Cardinals 1 on Soriano’s 25th homer of the season. Soriano added three to his RBI total. Soriano has drive in 84 runs for the first time in a Cubs’ uniform.

Marlon Byrd flied out to center and LeMahieu struck out swinging to close out the eighth.

Lance Berkman drove Sean Marshall’s first pitch of the eighth inning into center. Marshall struck out swinging. Yadier Molina singled to center on a 0-1 pitch to put two on with only one down.

LaRussa sent up Allen Craig to hit for Skip Schumaker. Craig hit a 0-2 pitch toward third. LeMahieu stepped on the bag and threw to first to complete the inning ending double play.

After eight, the Cubs had a 4-1 lead.

Koyie Hill led off the ninth with a single to center against Mitchell Boggs. Tony Campana, who came in for defense in the bottom of the eighth, squared to bunt a 1-0 pitch but pulled the bat back and hit a grounder to third. Hill was forced at second but Campana was safe and on the second pitch to Castro, Campana swiped his 23rd base of the season.

Starlin Castro capped his big night with a single to center. Campana scored on Castro’s 64th RBI of the season, 5-1 Cubs. Darwin Barney grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol preserved the win by retiring three of the four batters he faced in the ninth (17 pitches, nine for strikes).

It is always a great day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Rodrigo Lopez will face Kyle Lohse in game two on Saturday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney