Game One Hundred Forty-One – Cubs 4 Reds 3
WP – Matt Garza (8-10) LP – Dontrelle Wills (0-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (32)
Matt Garza beat the Reds for the first time in his career on Monday afternoon (1-2) after a shaky start … but a very strong finish. Garza labored through a 26-pitch first inning and gave up a run before the Cubs had a chance to bat. Garza settled down after the opening frame and the Reds other two runs came after errors by Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro.
Matt Garza ended up pitching into the eighth and allowing three runs, one earned, on six hits with three walks and eighth strikeouts. Garza threw 113 pitches, 73 for strikes, in 7 2/3 innings.
James Russell retired Yonder Alonso with two on and two out in the eighth with the Cubs up by a run. Carlos Marmol put together a very efficient ninth inning. Marmol retired the Reds in order on just nine pitches (seven for strikes) and earned his 32nd save of the season.
The Cubs offense did nothing over the first three innings against Dontrelle Willis. The D-Train retired all nine batters he faced on 29 pitches, 24 for strikes. But the Cubs started taking pitches in the fourth and it paid off.
Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored) walked on four pitches to start the fourth. After back-to-back one-out walks to Aramis Ramirez (1-for-2 with two RBI, two walks and a run scored) and Jeff Baker (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) loaded the bases, Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) recorded the Cubs’ first hit … a single to left that plated Castro with the tying run.
Starlin Castro started the Cubs three-run rally in the fifth with a two out single. After a ground rule double from Reed Johnson (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored), Aramis Ramirez delivered a clutch, two-run single into left that put the Cubs up 3-1 … the first RBI for Ramirez in 11 games (August 23). Ramirez advanced to third on a double to right by Jeff Baker and scored on a wild pitch.
A day after walking a season-high nine times, the Cubs worked five free passes on Monday. After being extremely aggressive against Willis the first time through, the patience and long at bats paid off in the fourth and fifth innings.
Marlon Byrd’s struggles with runners on base continued Monday. Byrd failed again to drive in runs with the bases loaded (1-for-13 on the year with the bases loaded) and his impatience on Monday led to a 0-for-4 afternoon with five more runners left on base.
Bryan LaHair was 1-for-4 with a double in his second start in as many days. LaHair gave Carlos Pena a breather at first. LaHair turned on a Aroldis Chapman fastball in the eighth and deposited the ball in right for a double.
The Cubs were 2-for-6 with RISP and left eight on base on Monday afternoon.
The Cubs defense was charged with two more errors (a Major League worst 118 for the year) on Monday … just one of the many areas the Cubs new GM must address in the off-season.
With Monday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 61-80 on the season … 19 games below .500. Matt Garza started his day by striking out Brandon Phillips looking on a very good back door slider. Garza jumped out in front of the free-swinging Drew Stubbs 0-2 before issuing a free pass … and it would end up costing him a run.
Joey Votto flied out to Byrd in left center (1-2 pitch). Jay Bruce ripped a 1-0 pitch past Jeff Baker into right for a two-out single. Yonder Alonso followed with a single into left center … Stubbs scored, 1-0 Reds. Juan Francisco flied out to right center on Garza’s 26th pitch (15 for strikes) to end the inning.
The Cubs showed no patience against Dontrelle Willis in the first and went down in order on 10 pitches, all strikes.
The Reds did nothing against Garza in the second … 1-2-3 on five pitches.
Willis sat down the Cubs in order, again, in the second on just eight pitches. Baker and Byrd grounded out to short on the first pitch of their at bats.
Matt Garza faced the minimum in the top of the third … after Drew Stubbs fell asleep on the bases. Phillips started the inning by flying out to left. Stubbs reached on a single to the hole at short … Stubbs just beat Castro’s throw. Joey Votto ripped a 2-2 pitch into right. Johnson caught the routine fly and threw to second to double off Stubbs. The Reds’ centerfielder thought there were two outs.
The Cubs did nothing against Willis in the third.
At the end of three, the Reds led 1-0 and Dontrelle Willis had a perfect game going.
Matt Garza struck out the Reds in order in the top of the fourth (Bruce, swinging; Alonso, looking; Francisco, swinging). Garza threw 58 pitches in the first four innings, 38 for strikes.
Starlin Castro led off the fourth with a four-pitch walk … the Cubs first baserunner. Johnson struck out swinging but Willis issued a five-pitch free pass to Aramis Ramirez. Jeff Baker walked to load the bases for Alfonso Soriano.
Alfonso Soriano broke up Willis’ no hit bid with a single to left on the first pitch. Castro scored and tied the game at one. Ramirez held at third and the bases were loaded for Marlon Byrd.
Byrd’s struggles with the bases loaded continued … Byrd struck out swinging on three pitches. After failing to come through with the bases loaded on Monday, Byrd is 1-for-13 on the season with the sacks full.
Geovany Soto flied out to right (first pitch) to end the inning.
Matt Garza retired Devin Mesoraco on a grounder to third to start the fifth. Paul Janish walked and advanced to second on a hard single to right by Dontrelle Willis. Brandon Phillips hit into a nicely turned 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Starlin Castro reached on a two-out single to left in the fifth … only the Cubs second hit of the game. Reed Johnson then smoked a 1-0 pitch out to left. Yonder Alonso misplayed the ball, simply did not catch the ball near the wall. The ball stuck in the ivy for a ground rule double.
With runners on second and third with two outs, Aramis Ramirez put together a very good at bat. Ramirez ended up ripping a single into left on the seventh pitch of the at bat (2-2 pitch, three straight fouls after two strikes). Castro and Johnson scored … 3-1 Cubs.
Ramirez ended an 11-game RBI drought with the two-out single in the fifth.
Jeff Baker followed with a double to right. Ramirez held at third and Dusty Baker called for the intentional pass to Soriano to load the bases for Marlon Byrd.
The Cubs caught a break when Willis uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Byrd. Ramirez scored, 4-1 Cubs. Byrd ended up flying out to center two pitches later to end the inning.
Matt Garza retired the Reds in order in the top of the sixth … Stubbs struck out swinging; Votto bloop out to short; Bruce struck out looking. Garza threw 83 pitches in the first six innings, 54 for strikes.
The Cubs managed only a two-out single in the sixth (Matt Garza) against Willis in the bottom of the third.
The Cubs horrible defense struck again in the top of the seventh … and cost Garza a run.
Yonder Alonso blooped a 3-2 pitch into right center. Reed Johnson over ran the ball. The ball rolled all the way to the wall. Alonso made it to third after Byrd slipped on the track trying to back up the play. Garza struck out Francisco swinging (0-2 pitch) for the first out.
Devin Mesoraco put the 0-1 pitch from Garza in play … and grounded out to short. Alonso scored, 4-2 Cubs. Janish grounded out to short to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez took a four-pitch one-out walk against Willis in the bottom of the seventh … but Jeff Baker struck out swinging and Soriano lined out to left to end the inning.
Matt Garza started the eighth after throwing 96 pitches (64 for strikes) in the first seven innings. For some reason Dontrelle Willis hit for himself and grounded out to second (first pitch) to start the frame. Brandon Phillips ripped a 2-1 pitch into left center and slid in safe at second just ahead of Byrd’s throw.
A 2-2 offering to Drew Stubbs got away from Soto, Phillips advanced to third without a throw. Stubbs looked at strike three for the second out.
Joey Votto smoked Garza’s first offering to short. The ball knocked Castro off his feet. Castro then dropped the ball as he tried to recover … Phillips scored and Votto reached on the Cubs’ second charged error in as many innings.
With the Cubs up by a single run, Mike Quade made the slow walk … but left Garza in. Garza walked Jay Bruce on five pitches. Quade went to his pen and brought in James Russell to face Yonder Alonso with runners on first and second with two outs.
Russell retired Alonso on a grounder to second (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Geovany Soto ripped a 2-1 pitch off Carlos Fisher towards Juan Francisco with one out in the third. The ball ate up the Reds’ third baseman and Soto reached on the error. Dusty Baker went to his pen and brought in Aroldis Chapman to face Bryan LaHair.
LaHair tattooed Chapman’s first pitch into right. Bruce made a good play getting to the ball and hitting Brandon Phillips. Ivan DeJesus sent Soto … and he was cut down at the plate for the second out. The play was not close. LaHair ended up at third but Darwin Barney stuck out swinging to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol retired the Reds in order (nine pitches, seven for strikes) to end the game.
Matt Garza was good … and the offense was good enough on Labor Day.
Rodrigo Lopez is scheduled to face Mike Leake on Tuesday night.