Game Eighty-Seven – Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (5-3) LP – Joe Saunders (4-6) Save – Carlos Marmol (9)
It took Reed Johnson crashing into the ivy in the ninth and the third double play of the game to end it as the Cubs were able to hang on and post their 11th win in the last 15 games. Dale Sveum’s team improved to 21-20 on the season at Wrigley behind another solid effort from Ryan Dempster.
Ryan Dempster pitched six shutout innings on Saturday afternoon and ran his scoreless innings streak to 33 in what could have been his final game in a Cubs’ uniform. On a day he clearly did not have his best stuff, Dempster was able to pitch out of jams with help from his defense. Dempster allowed only four hits with three walks and five strikeouts on 89 pitches, 56 for strikes, in route to his fifth straight win.
Ryan Dempster’s streak off 33 scoreless frames is the longest in the majors this season (R.A. Dickey, 33 2/3) and Dempster became just the fourth Cubs’ pitcher in the last 95 years to notch a scoreless innings streak of at least 33 innings (Ken Holtzman, 33 in 1969 and Bill Lee in 1938, 35 innings and 37 innings).
After Dempster departed, the Diamondbacks got on the board in the seventh inning. Chris Young hit a solo homer off James Russell and broke up the shutout. Shawn Camp pitched a scoreless eighth then it was time to fasten the seat belts in the ninth.
Carlos Marmol was not good for the second straight outing. Marmol could not find the strike zone (17 pitches, eight strikes) and was bailed out by his defense. Marmol gave up a leadoff double to Stephen Drew before issuing a five-pitch walk to Chris Young. Geoff Blum stepped in representing the tying run with two on and no outs. Blum pulled a 3-2 pitch to deep right that Reed Johnson caught as he hit the bricks. Johnson held on for the first out. Kirk Gibson sent Jason Kubel in to hit for David Hernandez and Kubel pulled Marmol’s first pitch toward first. Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball and started a 3-6-1 game ending double play.
Saturday’s win was truly a team effort. Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) drove in Luis Valbuena (2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored) with the game’s first run in the second inning. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) and Luis Valbuena delivered back-to-back run scoring hits with two outs in the fourth that put the Cubs up 3-0. Reed Johnson (2-for-4 with a double) added a pair of hits, made a game saving catch in the ninth and his bunt single in the third led to the Cubs’ first run. The Cubs ran the bases well and the defense stepped up again.
Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a run scored) was solid in left field while the infield turned three double plays. The Cubs have turned at least one double play in each of the last nine games … the longest streak for a Cubs’ team since 1994.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs are 13-8 in the last 21 games (4-0-1 in last five series) and improved to 35-52 on the season … Ryan Dempster ran his scoreless innings streak to 28 in the first inning of Saturday’s game. Other than a two-out walk by Justin Upton, the D-Backs did nothing against Dempster in the first (21 pitches, 12 strikes).
The Cubs went down in order quickly in the first. Joe Saunders threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes.
Ryan Dempster ended up facing the minimum in the second after giving up a leadoff single to Paul Goldschmidt. Stephen Drew put together an eight-pitch at bat that ended with a fly out to left. Chris Young helped out Dempster by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch. Dempster ran his streak to 29 innings … 32 pitches for Dempster after two, 21 for strikes.
Joe Saunders struck out Alfonso Soriano to start the second then retired Jeff Baker on a grounder to short. Geovany Soto lined a 2-0 pitch into left for the Cubs’ first hit but Darwin Barney chopped a 0-1 pitch to Aaron Hill to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster retired Geoff Blum (pop out to Castro in shallow right) and Joe Saunders (groundout to second) to begin the third. Gerardo Parra dumped a 0-1 pitch into left just in front of Soriano for a single. Aaron Hill ripped a 2-1 pitch into left and the Diamondbacks had two on for the first time. Dempster jumped ahead of Upton 0-2 then induced a grounder to first on his third pitch. Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball cleanly and took it to the bag to end the inning … 30 straight without a run for Ryan Dempster (49 pitches after three, 34 for strikes).
Luis Valbuena led off the Cubs’ third with a single to center (2-2 pitch). Ryan Dempster laid down a perfect bunt back toward the mound. Valbuena advanced to second on the play. Reed Johnson saw Geoff Blum playing back and dropped a bunt up the third baseline. Saunders fielded the ball but had no play. Valbuena slid in safe at third with one out.
Starlin Castro broke his bat on Saunders’ first pitch and hit a slow roller toward second. Hill fielded the ball and tossed to Drew with Johnson barreling down on him. Johnson was forced at second but Castro was able to beat Drew’s throw to first. Valbuena scored on the play and the Cubs’ took a 1-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo flied out to center for the third out.
After three, the Cubs led 1-0.
Alfonso Soriano made a nice catch in the well in left to take a hit away from Miguel Montero to start the fourth. Paul Goldschmidt pulled a 0-1 pitch into the corner in left. Soriano nearly caught up to the ball but came up short and Goldschmidt ended up at second with a double. Dempster was able to get Stephen Drew to chase on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt and struck him out swinging for the second out. Dempster walked Chris Young on four pitches. With runners on first and second with two down, Dempster struck out Geoff Blum swinging on three pitches to end the inning … 31 scoreless for Dempster (66 pitches, 43 for strikes).
Alfonso Soriano led off the fourth with a single to left, his fifth hit in six at bats in the series. For some reason Jeff Baker tried to bunt on the first pitch, missed and gave Saunders a strike. Baker ended up striking out (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Soriano made a good read on a 1-2 pitch to Soto that ended up in the dirt. Soriano advanced to second on the wild pitch. Soto flied out to center for the second out.
Darwin Barney pulled Saunders’ first pitch down the third baseline. Soriano scored and the Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Barney’s 18th double of the season. Kirk Gibson decided to pitch to Luis Valbuena with Barney on second, two down and Dempster on deck. Valbuena made him pay with a single to center that plated Barney with the Cubs’ third run. Dempster grounded out to third to end the inning.
After four, the Cubs led 3-0.
Ryan Dempster started the fifth by walking Joe Saunders on five pitches. An obviously irritated Dempster threw a first pitch fastball by Gerardo Parra then jammed him and induced a 3-6-3 double play. Aaron Hill flied out to left (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. Dempster threw 79 pitches over five innings, 49 for strikes, and ran his scoreless innings streak to 32.
Reed Johnson pulled Saunders’ first pitch down the left field line. Johnson ended up at second with a double. Starlin Castro put together a solid at bat that ended with a fly to deep center (sixth pitch). Johnson tagged and advanced to third with one out. With the infield in, Anthony Rizzo hit a grounder to the hole between first and second. Paul Goldschmidt made an excellent diving stop. Saunders did not break for first. Goldschmidt got to his feet then dove headlong toward first and touched the bag with his glove just ahead of a Rizzo for the second out. Saunders struck out Soriano swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
After five, the Cubs had a 3-0 lead.
Ryan Dempster retired the side in order in the sixth. Dempster struck out Upton and Montero swinging before Goldschmidt popped out to Barney on the first pitch … 33 scoreless for Ryan Dempster.
The Cubs were able to add on in the bottom of the sixth. Jeff Baker hit a routine grounder to short. Stephen Drew fielded the ball but airmailed his throw to first. Baker reached on E6 to start the inning. Geovany Soto ripped a 2-2 pitch into center. Baker was able to advance to third with no outs. Kirk Gibson left his infield back down 3-0. Darwin Barney hit into a 6-4-3 double play, Baker scored and the Cubs took a 4-0 lead. Valbuena tapped back to Joe Saunders to end the inning.
After six, the Cubs led 4-0.
James Russell caught Stephen Drew looking at a 2-2 pitch to begin the seventh. Chris Young launched a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left center and cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-1. Russell retired Blum on flyout to right. Gibson went to his bench and sent up Ryan Roberts to hit for Saunders. Roberts worked the count full before blooping a single into center. Gerardo Parra hit a weak liner toward the hole at short that Castro caught to end the inning.
Bryan Shaw took over in the seventh … and the Cubs threatened but were not able to tack on. Shaw made quick work of pinch-hitter David DeJesus (flyout to right center) and Reed Johnson (flyout to right center) but he could not put Castro away. Starlin Castro worked a walk then took second on the first pitch to Rizzo. Shaw’s first offering got past Montero and Castro advanced into scoring position with two down. Anthony Rizzo drove Shaw’s next pitch into left. Parra charged and threw a one-hop strike toward the plate … and cut down Castro to end the inning.
Shawn Camp issued a one-out walk to Justin Upton in the eighth … but that was all. Camp caught Montero looking for the second out then retired Goldschmidt on a grounder to short (first pitch) to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against David Hernandez in the eighth … and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 4-1.
Carlos Marmol took the hill in the ninth and fell behind Stephen Drew 2-0. Drew pulled a 2-1 pitch into the gap in right and ended up at second with a leadoff double. Marmol then walked Chris Young on five pitches. With runners on first and second with no outs, Manny Corpas and Scott Maine started warming in the pen.
Marmol jumped ahead of Geoff Blum 1-2 before Blum launched a 3-2 pitch to deep right. Reed Johnson caught the ball as he hit the bricks. Johnson fell to the ground as the runners retreated. Jason Kubel was called on to hit for David Hernandez. Kubel hit a grounder to Rizzo on the first pitch of the at bat … 3-6-1 double play, game over.
Matt Garza is scheduled to face Trevor Cahill in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO