Game One Hundred Forty-Three – Cubs 6 Reds 3
WP – Kerry Wood (2-5) LP – Logan Ondrusek (4-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (33)
The Cubs looked overmatched early on against Johnny Cueto. Cueto faced the minimum over the first four innings with nine groundball outs to the first 12 hitters. Carlos Pena led off the fifth with a double and scored on a two-out RBI single by D.J. LeMahieu.
Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with two runs scored) started two rallies and led off the sixth with a single. After a single by Reed Johnson (1-for-3 with a run scored and a sac bunt), Aramis Ramirez (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBI … 87 RBI on the season) doubled in Castro and Johnson to give the Cubs a short-lived two-run lead.
The Reds tied the game in the seventh against Ryan Dempster and James Russell. Dempster started the seventh and the Reds loaded the bases with no outs. The usually reliable James Russell struggled on Wednesday night and allowed the Reds to tie the game.
Reed Johnson made a game changing play to end the seventh. With the game tied at three, Yonder Alonso hit a fly to center that appeared to be deep enough to drive in Edgar Renteria from third. Johnson caught the ball and made a strong throw to the plate. Renteria was called out to end the inning … and the game remained tied at three.
Starlin Castro led off the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Reed Johnson. Aramis Ramirez was intentionally walked. Dusty Baker went to his pen and brought in the lefty, Bill Bray, to face Carlos Pena.
Carlos Pena (2-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBI and two runs scored) launched Bray’s first pitch onto Sheffield Avenue … and the Cubs took a three-run lead on Pena’s mammoth blast.
D.J. LeMahieu had an excellent game in his first start since returning from Triple-A. LeMahieu not only contributed at the plate (2-for-2 with a RBI and a sac bunt) but in the field as well. LeMahieu tied the game at one with a two-out single in the fifth … and saved a run with a diving stop on a ball ticketed for center off the bat of Jay Bruce to end the third.
Ryan Dempster put together a quality start but received a no decision. Dempster left with the Cubs up 3-1 with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh. James Russell allowed two inherited runs to score and Dempster received a no decision. Dempster allowed three runs on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts in six-plus innings. Dempster threw 98 pitches, 62 for strikes.
Kerry Wood picked up the win after pitching around a leadoff infield single by Drew Stubbs in the eighth. Carlos Marmol retired the top of the Reds lineup in order on 12 pitches … and earned his 33rd save of the year.
The Cubs finished the six-game homestand with a 3-3 record and posted a rare series victory against the Reds. With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 62-81 on the season … 19 games below .500. Ryan Dempster sat down Brandon Phillips (flyout to center) and Edgar Renteria (flyout to center) rather quickly to start the game. Joey Votto blooped a 1-2 pitch into left field … that got under Soriano’s glove. Votto ended up at third with a gift triple, his third three-bagger of the season.
Dempster walked Jay Bruce then gave up a single to Yonder Alonso (2-2 pitch). Votto scored easily and Bruce held at second on the two-out basehit to center. Drew Stubbs struck out swinging on three pitches. What looked like was going to be a quick inning turned into a 26-pitch inning (18 for strikes) … and the Cubs were in an early hole.
The Cubs went down in order quickly in the first.
Dempster put together an efficient 1-2-3 second inning. Dempster sat down the Reds in order on seven pitches, five for strikes.
Johnny Cueto mowed down the Cubs in order in the second.
The Reds threatened in the third but an excellent defensive play from D.J. LeMahieu kept Cincinnati from scoring. Dempster retired Phillips and Renteria to start the third before giving up a two-out double down the right field line to Joey Votto. Jay Bruce ripped a 1-2 pitch back up the middle. LeMahieu dove and threw out Bruce from his knees to end the inning.
D.J. LeMahieu led off the bottom of the third with a single to right (2-2 pitch) … the Cubs first hit of the game. Koyie Hill swung at the first pitch and grounded into a 6-3 double play. Dempster struck out swinging to end the inning.
At the end of three, the Cubs trailed 1-0 and Cueto had faced the minimum on just 37 pitches, 25 for strikes.
Yonder Alonso led off the fourth with a single to right (2-2 pitch) but Dempster retired Stubbs (fly out to center), Francisco (struck out swinging) and Hernandez (fly out to right) to end the inning.
The Cubs grounded out in order in the fourth. Nine of the first 12 outs recorded by Cueto were groundball outs … and six of them went to Francisco at third.
Edgar Renteria launched a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth off the top of the wall in left. Soriano played the ball perfectly and held the jogging Renteria to a long single. Votto grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth … and it was one of the kids that delivered.
Carlos Pena led off the fifth with a double to right center. Pena crushed a 0-1 pitch and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. Soriano flied out to left (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Cueto uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-1 offering to Bryan LaHair. Pena advanced to third but held when LaHair looked at strike three (3-2 pitch).
D.J. LeMahieu ripped a 0-1 pitch into left. Pena scored and tied the game at one. Hill flied out to right center to end the inning.
The Reds loaded the bases in the top of the sixth … but Dempster was able to wiggle his way out of the jam thanks to a baserunning blunder by Yonder Alonso.
Jay Bruce singled to right to start the sixth. Alonso followed with an infield single up the third base line. Alonso cued a 2-2 pitch off the end of his bat and reached first. Drew Stubbs dropped down a bunt and advanced Bruce and Alonso up ninety feet. Dempster wanted nothing to do with Juan Francisco. After issuing three pitches out the zone, Hill called for the four intentionally.
With the bases loaded and one down, Ramon Hernandez lined a 1-2 pitch to short. Castro snagged the ball, threw to LeMahieu and doubled off Alonso to end the inning.
Dempster threw 87 pitches (57 for strikes) in six innings.
After Dempster tapped back to Cueto to start the bottom of the sixth, Starlin Castro reached on an infield single (third baseline) … the 21st consecutive game Castro reached base via a hit, walk or error. Reed Johnson ripped a single into center.
With runners on first and second with one out, Aramis Ramirez stepped in and ripped a 1-1 pitch down the left field line. Alonso had trouble fielding the ball again. The very talented hitter kicked the ball off the sidewall and Alonso’s mistake allowed both Castro and Johnson to score … 3-1 Cubs.
Carlos Pena grounded out to second on the first pitch from Cueto. Ramirez advanced to third but was stranded when Alfonso Soriano flied out to deep right to end the inning.
Mike Quade allowed Ryan Dempster to start the seventh … and it cost one of his vets a chance to post a victory.
With the Reds down by two, Johnny Cueto hit for himself and led off the seventh with a bunt single. Cueto pushed a bunt past the mound (2-1 pitch) to LeMahieu at second. Cueto beat the throw and the Reds were in business.
Brandon Phillips ripped a 2-0 pitch into right … and Quade got his bullpen going. Edgar Renteria blooped a single into left and the bases were loaded, with no outs, for Joey Votto.
Mike Quade made the slow walk and brought in James Russell to face the trio of lefties.
The Reds hit the usually reliable Russell pretty hard and ended up tying the game … and it could have been more.
Joey Votto crushed Russell’s first pitch to deep right. Cueto tagged and scored and Phillips advanced to second on the sac fly. With runners on first and third with one out, Jay Bruce ripped a 3-2 pitch down the left field line. Phillips scored and tied the game at three. Renteria held at third with one out on Bruce’s double.
Yonder Alonso lifted a 2-1 pitch to center. Reed Johnson backed up, then charged the ball. Johnson made the catch and threw a one-hop strike to Koyie Hill to cut down Renteria at the plate to end the inning. Johnson made a very strong, accurate throw and Hill did his job on the other end … but the Cubs might have caught a break.
Bryan LaHair led off the seventh with a single to right. LeMahieu sacrificed him to second. Koyie Hill grounded out to second on the first pitch. LaHair advanced to third with two outs. Blake DeWitt hit for James Russell and lined out to left center to end the inning.
Kerry Wood took over in the eighth and gave up an infield single to Drew Stubbs. Stubbs hit a 0-1 pitch back up the box and off Wood’s glove. Woody uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Juan Francisco. Stubbs advanced to second on the play.
Wood reached back and started throwing heat at that point. Wood struck out Francisco swinging and retired Ramon Hernandez on a pop out to shallow right (3-2 pitch). Devin Mesoraco hit for Cueto and fouled out to Hill to end the inning.
Starlin Castro led off the eighth with a single to right center off Logan Ondrusek. Reed Johnson bunted Castro to second and Dusty Baker took the bat out of Aramis Ramirez’s hand. After the intentional free pass to Ramirez, Baker went to his pen for the lefty Bill Bray to face Carlos Pena.
Carlos Pena launched Bray’s first pitch over the wall in right and onto Sheffield Avenue. Pena’s 26th of the season, a three-run bomb through the wind, gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead.
Alfonso Soriano flied out to left on a 3-1 pitch and LaHair struck out swinging to end the inning … but the Cubs took a three-run lead on Pena’s seventh longball of the season off a southpaw.
Carlos Marmol retired the top of the Reds lineup on 12 pitches to end the game.
The Cubs played a good game on Wednesday night … and taking a series against the Reds is always a good thing.
The Cubs will spend Thursday making their way to New York. Q’s squad opens a three-game series on Friday night at Citi Field … Casey Coleman is slated to face Mike Pelfrey in game one.