Game Ninety-One – Cubs 4, Marlins 2
WP – Paul Maholm (8-6) LP – Mark Buehrle (9-9) Save – Carlos Marmol (11)
The Cubs finished the six-game homestand (5-1, 10-2 last 12 at Wrigley Field) with a solid win against Mark Buehrle in their final matchup of the season against the Marlins (2-4). With the series victory over the Fish, Dale Sveum’s team is 5-0-1 in the last six series.
Thursday’s win, the Cubs’ 14th in 19 games, was a total team effort. The Cubs offense did just enough against Mark Buehrle, the defense turned in several outstanding plays and Paul Maholm allowed just one run over eight strong innings in route to his fourth straight victory.
Paul Maholm did his job once again. While his defense helped keep him out of trouble, Maholm made the right pitches when he needed to. Maholm surrendered the one run on five hits with a walk, a hit batsman and four strikeouts on 106 pitches, 68 for strikes, despite allowing the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the first three innings and four of his eight frames.
Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, Luis Valbuena, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson each made outstanding plays behind Maholm throughout the afternoon.
The Cubs offense was predictably absent early on against Mark Buehrle. Buehrle was his typical dominant self against the Cubs through four innings. The Cubs managed only two hits in their first four at bats while Buehrle needed only 37 pitches to face the minimum.
Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a home run) led off the fifth with the Cubs’ third hit of the game … a solo shot to left, his 18th longball of the season and the 150th of his Cubs’ career. The Cubs kept pounding away at Buehrle in the fifth, ran up his pitch count (71, 48 strikes) and added three more runs before he could record three outs.
Luis Valbuena (0-for-2 with a sac fly RBI) drove in the Cubs’ second run. Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with a run scored), Geovany Soto (0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) and Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a run scored) loaded the bases following Soriano’s home run and Valbuena hit a sac fly to right center that allowed all of the runners to advance ninety feet. After Paul Maholm struck out, Reed Johnson (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) delivered a two-out, two-run single into left on a 1-2 pitch. Mark Buehrle was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth and ended up allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings.
The Cubs were not able to add on against Miami’s pen and Carlos Marmol survived another shaky ninth to close it out. Marmol allowed one run on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts in the ninth.
With Thursday’s win, the Cubs improved to 38-53 on the season … Jose Reyes led off the game with a single to center (2-2 pitch). Emilio Bonifacio lined a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. Starlin Castro made a sensational diving catch to take away a hit from Bonifacio. Reyes then took off for second on 1-0 pitch to Carlos Lee. Geovany Soto threw a strike to second and cut down Reyes. Lee ended up grounding out to third to end the inning. Maholm faced the minimum in the first on 12 pitches, eight for strikes, thanks to his defense.
The Cubs did nothing in the first … Mark Buehrle set down the side in order on seven pitches, six for strikes.
Justin Ruggiano led off the second with a single to left. With Austin Kearns at the plate, Maholm picked off Ruggiano from first (play went 1-3-4) and Kearns grounded out to third to end the inning. Maholm faced the minimum again in the second inning (20 pitches for Maholm after two, 13 for strikes).
Alfonso Soriano led off the Cubs’ second with a single to right … the Cubs first hit of the game. After Jeff Baker flied out to right, Geovany Soto rapped into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Buehrle faced the minimum through two innings on 22 pitches, 16 for strikes.
Omar Infante walked on four pitches to start the third, the third straight inning Maholm allowed the leadoff hitter to reach. A 1-2 pitch to John Buck got past Soto and Infante ended up at second on the wild pitch. Maholm caught Buck looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out and struck out Mark Buehrle swinging. Jose Reyes flied out to Jeff Baker in shallow right (he nearly misplayed the ball) to end the inning … 37 pitches for Maholm after three, 22 for strikes.
The bottom of the Cubs lineup did nothing in the third. Buehrle needed only 32 pitches, 23 for strikes, to get through three innings.
Paul Maholm retired Bonifacio on a grounder to Castro on a ball ticketed for center to start the fourth. Carlos Lee then launched a ball into the left field corner that Soriano made a nice running catch on for the second out. After Ruggiano singled to left (3-2 pitch), Maholm caught Hanley Ramirez looking (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Reed Johnson led off the fourth with a double to left. Hanley Ramirez misplayed the ball into a double … but it did not cost his team. Castro advanced Johnson to third with a swinging bunt up the first baseline that Buehrle fielded and tagged Castro for the out. With the infield in, Anthony Rizzo pulled a 1-1 pitch toward second. Infante threw to the plate and Johnson was caught in a run down. Johnson was eventually tagged out and so was Rizzo. Rizzo rounded second too far and could not get back (4-2-5-1-6-4).
After four complete, the game remained scoreless.
Paul Maholm set the Marlins down in order for the first time in the fifth … 60 pitches for Maholm after five, 39 for strikes.
Alfonso Soriano led off the fifth and lined a 2-2 pitch into the basket in left. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead on Soriano’s 18th homer of the season. Jeff Baker followed with a single to left (2-2 pitch) and Geovany Soto worked a walk. With runners on first and second with no outs, Darwin Barney drove a 1-2 pitch into right. Baker held at third and the bases were loaded for Luis Valbuena.
Valbuena pulled a 1-0 pitch into right center. Bonifacio made the catch. Baker tagged and scored … but Soto and Barney were able to advance as well. With runners on second and third with one down, Paul Maholm struck out swinging for the second out.
Reed Johnson pulled a 1-2 pitch into left. Baker scored and Barney slid in safe with the Cubs’ fourth run. Johnson advanced to second on the throw to the plate. Starlin Castro launched a 1-0 pitch to deep left. Austin Kearns made the catch against the ivy to end the inning … Castro just missed his ninth homer of the season (Castro was a loud 0-for-4 on Thursday afternoon).
After five, the Cubs led 4-0.
Donovan Solano hit for Mark Buehrle to start the sixth. Maholm fell behind 2-1 and Solano drove his fourth pitch into the right field corner. Solano ended up at third with a standing triple. Jose Reyes lined a 1-1 pitch toward short. Starlin Castro made a leaping catch to take away a hit and a RBI from Reyes. Emilio Bonifacio followed and hit a 2-1 pitch back up the middle that Maholm kicked toward Barney, who picked up the ball and recorded the out. Solano scored on the play and cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-1. Carlos Lee grounded out to third on Maholm’s 73rd pitch of the game (46 strikes) to end the inning.
Anthony Rizzo singled to left off Wade LeBlanc to begin the sixth. Soriano hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Jeff Baker followed with his second hit of the game but Soto flied out to right center to end the inning.
Paul Maholm started the seventh by striking out Ruggiano and retiring Hanley Ramirez on a grounder to third. Maholm then plunked Kearns and gave up an infield single to Omar Infante … but John Buck flied out to right (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Darwin Barney led off the seventh with a single to center. Wade LeBlanc struck out Valbuena swinging. After Maholm bunted Barney to second, Ozzie Guillen went to his pen for Edward Mujica. Reed Johnson hit a tapper up the first baseline for the third out.
After seven, the Cubs led 4-1.
Reed Johnson moved to right with David DeJesus taking over in center to start the eighth … and the moved paid off for Paul Maholm.
Logan Morrison hit for Mujica to start the eighth and grounded out to third. Jose Reyes drove a 2-2 pitch into the gap in right center. Reed Johnson took an excellent route to the ball and made a tremendous diving catch for the second out. Maholm ended up retiring the side in order after Bonifacio grounded out to third to end the inning.
Steve Cishek plunked Anthony Rizzo with one out in the eighth but Alfonso Soriano grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 4-1 lead.
Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen and issued a leadoff walk to Carlos Lee. Ruggiano chased a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Marmol then struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging for the second out. Greg Dobbs hit for Austin Kearns and Lee took second (defensive indifference) on the first pitch to Dobbs. The free pass ended up costing Marmol. Dobbs ripped a 1-2 pitch into center that plated Lee with the Marlins’ second run. Omar Infante stepped in representing the tying run … but Infante hit a 1-2 pitch to Darwin Barney who stepped on the bag to end the game.
The Cubs open a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Friday night. Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Kyle Lohse in the opener.
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