Cubs Close Out the Dodgers – Cubs 5, Dodgers 4

Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 5, Dodgers 4
WP – Paul Maholm (3-2) LP – Chad Billingsley (2-2) Save – Rafael Dolis (2)

wflag.jpgIt was inevitable that on the day Carlos Marmol was, at least for now, relieved of his duties as the Cubs’ closer that the game would go into the ninth inning with the Cubs up by a run.

Paul Maholm posted his third straight win by holding Los Angeles to one run (a solo homer by Jerry Hairston, Jr. in the third) on three hits with no walks, a HBP and four strikeouts in six innings. Maholm even took one for the team, a comebacker off the bat of Dee Gordon in the sixth that hit Maholm in the right knee. Maholm stayed in the game and ended his day by striking out Matt Kemp looking at a 3-2 pitch with a runner on second base and his team up 3-1. Maholm threw 88 pitches, 59 for strikes, and said he was okay after the game. Maholm explained that his early departure was not injury related that he was told when he entered the dugout after striking out Matt Kemp that his day was done.

The bullpen made it interesting again. James Russell (one run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning) surrendered his first run of the year in the seventh and Kerry Wood (two runs on one hit and a walk in one inning) gave up two runs in the eighth. The Cubs went to the ninth clinging to a 5-4 lead.

A shaky Rafael Dolis retired the first two batters he faced despite falling behind both hitters. Dolis then appeared to catch A.J. Ellis looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the game. Dolis did not get the call then grazed Ellis with his next offering to put the tying run on base.

Dale Sveum did not like the missed call, asked the wrong question and was thrown out of the game, his first ejection as skipper of the Chicago Cubs.

After missing with his first two pitches to Bobby Abreu, Dolis received a visit from Chris Bosio. Abreu took a strike then lined Dolis’ 2-1 offering into the gap in right center. David DeJesus ran over and caught the ball to end the game.

Sveum’s offense had a good day and if not for the wind knocking down a deep fly off the bat of Geovany Soto with the bases loaded to end the seventh, the last inning might have been more comfortable.

The Cubs put together and executed a good game plan against Chad Billingsley. They made him work, showed patience while running up his pitch count. Not only did the Cubs pound out 11 hits (eight against Billingsley) but they also walked six times on the afternoon. The Cubs finished 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.

David DeJesus (3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a walk, a RBI and a run scored), Alfonso Soriano (3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and two RBI) and Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored) led the way Friday afternoon. DeJesus was a home run short of a cycle and Soriano reached all four times with a pair of doubles, a RBI single and a walk.

Joe Mather made his one at bat Friday count. Mather hit for Paul Maholm in the sixth and launched his second home run of the season, an opposite field shot to right center. Mather’s first pinch-hit homer since July 17, 2008 and the Cubs first pinch-hit round tripper of the season gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

Bryan LaHair (1-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 10 games and set a franchise mark for first basemen. LaHair has reached base safely in the last 22 games he’s played and his single in the seventh came off lefty Scott Elbert.

With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 10-16 on the season …

Paul Maholm faced the minimum in the first. After retiring Dee Gordon on a bunt attempt to first, Maholm hit Mark Ellis on a 1-2 pitch. Matt Kemp smacked a 2-2 pitch right at Darwin Barney, who was shaded up the middle. Barney turned it into a 4-3 inning ending double play.

The Cubs did a good job in the first inning of getting runners on and getting them in. Two productive outs led to the Cubs’ first two runs of the game.

David DeJesus’ big day started with a double to right. Campana hit a 2-1 pitch to short but DeJesus advanced to third on the play. Starlin Castro fell behind 1-2 before hitting the next pitch off Hairston, Jr’s glove and into left field. DeJesus scored, 1-0 Cubs. Bryan LaHair grounded out to the hole at second but Castro was able to advance to second on the play. Alfonso Soriano ripped Billingsley’s first pitch into left. Castro scored … 2-0 Cubs. Stewart flied out to left for the third out.

Paul Maholm retired the Dodgers in order in the second.

The Cubs wasted an opportunity to tack on in the second. After Barney flied out to center (3-2 pitch), Geovany Soto worked a walk. Paul Maholm could not get the bunt down and eventually fouled out. David DeJesus hit a 2-1 pitch down the right field line. Soto had to hold at third … and Campana grounded out to short to end the inning. If Maholm can advance Soto to second …

Jerry Hairston, Jr. led off the third with his first home run as a Dodger. Maholm settled down and retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning.

Starlin Castro (1-2 pitch) flied out to left and LaHair was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch to start the bottom of the third. Alfonso Soriano then ripped a 1-2 pitch into left for a double. Jerry Hairston, Jr. took an extra base hit and a RBI away from Stewart and threw him out at first to end the inning.

After three, the Cubs led 2-1.

Maholm retired Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in order in the fourth.

The offense was able to give Maholm a little breathing room in the bottom of the fourth. Darwin Barney led off the inning with a hustle double to center. Soto hit the first pitch to third for a routine out and Paul Maholm struck out looking (3-2 pitch) but DeJesus ripped a 3-2 pitch into right center. Barney scored easily and DeJesus ended up at third with two down. Tony Campana walked but Castro flied out to left center to end the inning.

Other than a two-out single by Hairston, Jr, the Dodgers did nothing against Maholm in the fifth. After five, Maholm had thrown 70 pitches, 48 for strikes.

Billingsley ended up facing the minimum in the fifth. LaHair lined out to second to start the inning but Soriano walked. With Soriano running and Gordon moving to cover the bag, Stewart hit a 3-2 pitch back up the middle … and Gordon turned it into a 6-3 double play.

With the bases empty and one down in the sixth, Dee Gordon hit a 1-0 pitch back up the middle. The ball hit Maholm in his right knee. Maholm hit the ground but stayed in the game and completed the inning. On a 1-0 pitch to Mark Ellis, Gordon stole second but could not advance when Ellis hit a 3-2 pitch to Castro. Matt Kemp worked the count to 3-2 before looking at strike three to end the inning … and Maholm’s afternoon.

After Darwin Barney flied out to center and Soto grounded out to short to start the sixth, Sveum went to his bench for Joe Mather. Super Joe hit for Maholm and launched a 1-1 pitch into the bleachers in right center … 4-1 Cubs. DeJesus struck out swinging to end the inning.

James Russell started the seventh and struggled. The Dodgers started creeping back into the game after an ill-advised diving attempt by Tony Campana. There was no reason for Campana to try to make a diving catch with his team up by three runs. Andre Ethier hit a 0-1 pitch into shallow right center. Campana dove but was very short. Ethier ended up at second with a double … instead of first, where he should have been.

Juan Rivera flied out to left center and Juan Uribe hit for James Loney. Uribe grounded out to second (2-2 pitch) but Ethier advanced to third on the play. Hairston, Jr. stepped in and drove in his second run of the game with a triple to the right field corner.

Sveum went to his pen and brought in Shawn Camp to face A.J. Ellis. Camp walked Ellis on four pitches but after a visit from Bosio he was able to retire the newest Dodger, Bobby Abreu. Abreu officially joined the team on Friday and stuck out looking to end the inning.

After seven, the Cubs led 4-2.

Scott Elbert started the seventh for Don Mattingly and issued a walk to Tony Campana. Campana took off for second on the first pitch to Castro … and was thrown out. Campana was caught stealing for the first time this season. Castro then reached on an infield single (Gordon made a diving stop and kept the ball from ending up in center). Bryan LaHair followed with a single to left center (2-2 pitch, sixth pitch of the bat). With runners on first and second with one down, Mattingly went to his pen and brought in Todd Coffey to face Soriano.

On a 1-2 pitch to Alfonso Soriano, Castro stole third and trotted home when Soriano ripped Coffey’s next pitch into the left field corner. With the Cubs up 5-2, Ian Stewart was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out. Barney struck out swinging for the second out.

Geovany Soto worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a deep fly to Kemp in center. The wind kept the ball in the park … and ended the inning.

Kerry Wood made his first appearance since April 13 … and was not good. Wood retired Gordon on a grounder to second to start the inning then jumped ahead of Mark Ellis 1-2. Wood eventually walked Ellis and fell behind Matt Kemp. Ellis stole second without a throw and scored when Matt Kemp crushed a 3-2 pitch from Wood off the wall in right. Andre Ethier followed with a sac fly to center … and just like that the Cubs lead was down to 5-4. Wood retired Rivera on a fly out to right to end the inning.

Reed Johnson hit for Wood to start the eighth and struck out swinging. Josh Lindblom then walked DeJesus. Campana tried to bunt DeJesus to second but popped out to Ellis. Castro struck out swinging and the Cubs went to the ninth up by a single run.

Rafael Dolis sat down Tony Gwynn, Jr on a line out to second (2-1 pitch) to begin the ninth. Hairston, Jr then grounded out to third (2-0 pitch) for the first out. A.J. Ellis stepped in and appeared to look at strike three (1-2 pitch) to end the inning. Dolis did not get the call, hit Ellis with the next pitch and was in trouble. Dolis missed on his first two pitched to Bobby Abreu. After receiving a visit from Chris Bosio and getting one over for a strike, Abreu hit a bullet into the gap in right center. DeJesus caught the 27th out … game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Chris Volstad has been moved up a day (pitching on regular rest) and will face Chris Capuano in the second game of the series Saturday afternoon. Matt Garza is sick and has been pushed to Sunday.

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  • John_CC

    Hey Neil: great recap, as always; but I love the tone tonight.

    I missed the game, busy day. I did happen to walk into a TV in the bottom of 9 and saw the missed strike three call and subsequent Sveum ejection. Good for Dale, he was pissed, it wasn’t hard to read his lips. Good for Dolis, too. I thought, ooooh sheeit, he’s gonna lose it now. But he held it together when it looked like a Malatov cocktail was dropped on mound. Good for Dolis!  Yeah, Abreu hit that ball hard, but he was out and game over. Save Rafael Dolis!  Very happy for the young man and the team. They needed that bad.

    And very happy for Maholm. So much for pitching around Kemp.

    Big win. If someone steps up to the job of finishing games…crap…all of a sudden we might be watching a team a lot closer to .500 than any of us thought. It’s still early, yes, I’m drinking blue flavored jameson tonight, so give me break!

    1 through 4 have pitched well … quite well, for a couple turns through. I don’t know … yes, this is still a very flawed team, but damnit, they are better than 2011. It’s more interesting and more fun to watch.

    Let see what Dolis can do with this new found confidence from this new manager that stands behind his players and doesn’t mince words.

    As sad as it was to see Mo Rivera go down like he did, I was really taken aback by the image of Girardi carrying him off the field. As much as I still wish Joe was chosen over Lou back when the Cubs had the chance, Sveum looks like that kind of guy. Baker, Pinella, Q – I can’t see any of them being the first one out there to carry a player off the field.

    I don’t know. Do you? Let’s see what happens here. I for one am happy to watch it unfold.

    Let’s go Cubs.

    • John G

      Blue Jameson? It’s Cinco de Mayo man. You should be drinking some Blue Agave. Or at least Dos Equis Blue instead of LaBatts Blue.

      Problem is that Volstad pitches today. The thing I really hate about Volstads act is… No beer at the ballpark and no Jamesons of Blue Agave either.

      hahahaha, you can tell I’ve had a few tonight as well.

      Great wrap up Neil. Keep up the good work.

      • Neil

         Thank you John.

      • John_CC

        ahh…I wrote that last night, John, cuatro de Mayo…but if you’re drinking agave already this morning, more power to ya man!

    • Neil

      Thanks man, I appreciate it. I like the improvements the team has made. They are playing better ball.

      I’m with you on Girardi, I was hoping he would get the Cubs job and not Lou. I could not see Piniella running out there like Joe did but I don’t know about Baker and Quade. They might have, especially Quade. I think his heart is in the right place, he’s just not a big league manager.

      • John_CC

         You’re right, Quade would have been out there. And he just doesn’t have it what it takes to manage in the bigs.  I’ll bury that hatchet.

  • cubtex

    I wish the Cubs had some options in the minors to step up and take Volstad’s spot…..but nobody appears wanting to do that. Travis Wood didn’t step up……Chris Rusin didn’t have a good start on May 3rd in Memphis, Jay Jackson isn’t doing anything, Casey Coleman? Trey McNutt just got off the DL with blisters and wasn’t sharp for his last start, and of course Randy Wells came up and was the same ol Randy Wells. Gerardo Concepcion is getting hammered in A ball. I hope this next draft Theo goes for starting pitching because this system needs starting pitching depth in the worst way!

  • SuzyS

    I was just checking  a few stats…and noted that Brett Jackson has 32ko’s in a little over 100 ABs and a .250 average. If he doesn’t put it together soon…I don’t see him being successfully brought up (as we’ve all been hoping for), in the near future.

    • Neil

      Suzy, I know the strikeouts do not look good for Jackson. One thing to keep in mind, he is working counts. He has not had many three pitch at bats. Two of his strikeouts earlier this week were called third strikes on questionable calls. Both cases they were 3-2 pitches.

      Not trying to excuse the strikeouts, just want to pass on a little more info.