Three Longballs, Justin Germano … and a Cubs Win – Cubs 7, Astros 2

Game One Hundred Sixteen – Cubs 7, Astros 2
WP – Justin Germano (2-2) LP – Bud Norris (5-10) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs put Tuesday’s embarrassing loss behind them and finished the seven-game homestand (3-4) with a solid win over Bud Norris and the Astros.

Houston jumped out to an early lead on a Scott Moore solo home run in the second inning before Justin Germano settled in and the Cubs’ offense turned it on.

David DeJesus had a career day. DeJesus hit not one but two home runs and finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and a walk. DeJesus’ first longball in the third, his first at Wrigley Field, put the Cubs up for good after Brett Jackson (2-for-4 with a double, a triple, a RBI and a run scored) tied the game in the second with a run scoring triple. DeJesus added a two-run shot in the fourth that gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead.

Brett Jackson and Starlin Castro drove in the other three runs. Jackson had his best day in a Cubs’ uniform with a double and a triple in four trips to the plate, the first extra basehits and RBI of his big league career. Starlin Castro (3-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and two runs scored) silenced a few of his critics, at least for one day. Castro launched his 12th longball of the year, a two-run shot in the third, and he doubled in the seventh.

After being held to one run on six hits Tuesday night, the Cubs scored seven runs on 11 hits with seven walks and two of those free passes scored.

Justin Germano picked up his first quality start with his longest outing in a Cubs’ uniform. Germano allowed two runs on five hits with a walk, a hit batsman and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Germano struck out the side in the fourth and threw 93 pitches, 60 for strikes, and left the game in the seventh with a 7-1 lead.

James Russell struggled again but was not charged with any runs of his own. Russell allowed an inherited run to score but closed out the seventh without allowing the Astros to creep back into the game. Shawn Camp faced the minimum in the eighth and Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth to close it out.

The Cubs defense helped keep Justin Germano and the pen out of trouble. The Cubs turned four double plays and Anthony Rizzo (0-for-5) started three of the four twin killings.

With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs won their first series since taking two of three from the Cardinals at the end of July and improved to 46-70 on the season …

Justin Germano struggled with his command in the first inning. Germano did not allow any runs or hits but he did not have the same command he’s had in his short time with the Cubs. Jose Altuve flied out to right center (2-2 pitch) to start the game. Marwin Gonzalez flied out to right center (2-1 pitch) then Germano plunked Steve Pearce on 2-2 pitch. Justin Maxwell tapped back to Germano (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Germano threw 21 pitches in the first inning, 12 for strikes.

David DeJesus led off the Cubs’ first with a single to center (2-2 pitch). Bud Norris caught Josh Vitters looking at a 0-2 pitch. Anthony Rizzo was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch … and Jason Castro threw out DeJesus at second to complete the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Norris needed 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, to complete the first frame.

Scott Moore led off the second and picked up where he left off from Tuesday. Moore launched a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left center … and just like that the Astros were up 1-0. Germano seemed to settle down at that point. Germano retired Ben Francisco (pop out to left), Jason Castro (strikeout) and Brandon Barnes (fly out to deep right center) in order to end the inning … 33 pitches for Germano after two, 21 for strikes.

After Alfonso Soriano grounded out to third to begin the second, Starlin Castro reached on a single to right (0-2 pitch). Sveum called for a hit and run with Luis Valbuena at the plate. Castro reached second when Valbuena grounded out to second base. With Jackson at the plate, Norris uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Castro to advance to third.

Brett Jackson drove a 2-2 pitch into right center. Brandon Barnes misplayed the ball as Castro scored the tying run. Jackson made it all the way to third, standing, with the first triple and RBI of his big league career. Steve Clevenger walked but Germano struck out swinging (0-2 pitch) to end the inning. Norris threw 36 pitches, 25 for strikes, over his first two innings.

After two, the game was tied at one.

Justin Germano struck out Norris looking to start the third. Jose Altuve blooped a single into right. Marwin Gonzalez hit a liner toward first (1-0 pitch). Anthony Rizzo caught the ball and doubled off Altuve to end the inning. Germano needed 42 pitches, 27 for strikes, to complete three innings.

David DeJesus led off the third and smacked a 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in right. DeJesus’ first homer at Wrigley gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead … and they never looked back. Josh Vitters flied out to center and Rizzo flied out to left. Norris jumped ahead of Soriano before eventually walking him with two outs.

With Alfonso Soriano on first, Starlin Castro stepped in and launched a 2-2 pitch into the bleachers in left … and just like that the Cubs took a 4-1 lead. Brett Jackson struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After three, the Cubs led 4-1.

Justin Germano put together a shutdown inning in the fifth. Germano struck out the side while keep his pitch count (58 pitches, 37 for strikes) relatively low.

Steve Clevenger grounded out to first to start the fourth. Norris then walked Justin Germano … and it cost him. David DeJesus drove the first pitch over the wall in center and the Cubs took a 6-1 lead.

Josh Vitters smacked a 3-1 pitch back up the middle. Norris tried to do a kick save (the old Kerry Wood move). The ball hit off his left foot and rolled toward third. Vitters reached first and Norris was lifted from the game.

Bud Norris was lifted with a bone contusion and Chuckie Fick replaced him with one on and one out. Anthony Rizzo hit Fick’s first pitch to Altuve … 4-6-3 inning ending double play.

After four, the Cubs led 6-1.

Other than a two-out infield single off the bat of Brandon Barnes, the Astros did nothing against Germano in the fifth … 68 pitches for Germano after five, 46 for strikes.

Alfonso Soriano walked to start the fifth. After Fick struck out Castro swinging, Luis Valbuena grounded into to a 6-3 inning ending double play.

Justin Germano faced the minimum in the sixth. Jose Altuve reached on an infield single but was erased when Marwin Gonzalez grounded into a 3-6-1 double play. Steve Pearce grounded out to short on Germano’s 81st pitch (53 for strike) of the game.

The Cubs tacked on in the sixth after Brett Jackson pulled a 3-2 pitch from Fick into the right field corner. Jackson ended up at second with a double. Steve Clevenger walked and Germano bunted both runners up ninety feet. With runners on second and third with one out, the Astros intentionally walked David DeJesus to load the bases.

Josh Vitters struck out looking for the second out and Brad Mills went to his pen for a lefty to face Anthony Rizzo. A 0-2 pitch to Rizzo got away from Jason Castro. Jackson scored from third on the passed ball. Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning … but after six, the Cubs had a six-run lead (7-1).

Justin Germano started the seventh and retired Brian Bogusevic on a tap back to the mound. Scott Moore singled to right and Germano walked Ben Francisco. With two out, one down and the Cubs up by six, Sveum went to his pen for James Russell.

Russell walked Jason Castro to load the bases. Brandon Barnes hit a 1-1 pitch toward short. Castro fielded the ball, tossed to Valbuena to force Castro. Barnes beat Valbuena’s throw as Moore scored the Astros’ second run. Ben Francisco was caught in no man’s land. Rizzo threw to Vitters to complete the 6-4-3-5 inning ending double play.

Mickey Storey took over in the seventh and struck out Soriano swinging to begin the inning. Starlin Castro doubled down the left field line. A passed ball with Valbuena at the plate allowed Castro to advance to third. Valbuena walked but Jackson was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Steve Clevenger flied out to left (3-1 pitch) to end the inning.

After seven, the Cubs led 7-2.

James Russell took the hill to start the eighth but after Tyler Greene was announced, Sveum went to his pen for Shawn Camp. Camp struck out Greene for the first out. Jose Altuve singled ahead of Marwin Gonzalez grounding into a 3-6-3 inning ending double play.

Other than a two out single by David DeJesus, the Cubs did nothing against Mickey Storey and Wesley Wright in the eighth.

Carlos Marmol retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth … and struck out Scott Moore and Ben Francisco to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Thursday is an off day for the Chicago Cubs. The team opens a four-game series Friday night in Cincinnati with Travis Wood taking on Bronson Arroyo in game one.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth