Garza and the Cubs Outlast the Cardinals – Cubs 6, Cardinals 4

Game Ninety-Two – Cubs 6, Cardinals 4

WP – Matt Garza (6-1) LP – Lance Lynn (11-4) Save – Kevin Gregg (17)

wflag-pubThe Cubs held on and beat the Cardinals on Saturday night behind another excellent outing from Matt Garza and home runs from Alfonso Soriano and Luis Valbuena.

Matt Garza likely took the hill at Wrigley for the last time in a Cubs’ uniform on Saturday night. And while he gave up a season-high 10 hits, Garza made the big pitch when he needed to and limited the high-powered Cardinals offense to only two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Garza issued two walks and struck out four on 113 pitches, 73 for strikes.

With all eyes on him again, Matt Garza delivered and posted his fifth straight win. While a starting pitcher’s win are not the best way to judge performance, at this time of the season there is a lot of focus placed on wins and losses and Garza responded with his sixth straight quality start.

Matt Garza departed with two outs in the seventh with two on and the Cubs up by four runs. Matt Guerrier recorded the final out and got out of the jam. The Cubs’ pen bent a little but did not brake on Saturday night. Blake Parker and James Russell surrendered a run in the eighth but Russell was able to limit the damage after entering the game with the bases loaded and one out.

Kevin Gregg gave up a run in the ninth after issuing back-to-back two out walks and a run scoring single to Jon Jay. Pete Kozma pinch-hit for Seth Maness and chopped a 1-0 pitch to Castro with runners on first and third and the Cubs clinging to a two run lead. Starlin Castro made an excellent pick on a short-hop and threw to first. Anthony Rizzo made an excellent pick on the low throw to end the game.

Cubs pitching gave up four runs on 12 hits with five walks on Saturday night. The Cardinals had runners on base all night and finished the game 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.

The Cubs’ offense jumped all over Lance Lynn for the first time in his career and knocked him out of the game in the fifth inning. The Cubs made Lynn work and took advantage of deep counts.

Alfonso Soriano (2-for-5 with a home run, a double and two runs scored) stayed hot. Soriano doubled and scored the Cubs first run in the third inning. Dave Sappelt (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) drove in Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a run scored) with the go ahead run in the second inning. The Cubs took advantage of two Cardinals’ errors in the second inning and scored three times.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a RBI) drove in the Cubs’ third run with a swinging bunt up the third baseline that capped the scoring in the second inning. Alfonso Soriano hit his ninth home run in 15 games leading off the third inning. Luis Valbuena (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) gave Garza the breathing room the bullpen would need with a two-run homer in the fourth.

The Cubs scored six runs on 12 hits with two walks and finished the game 5-for-13 with RISP and left 10 runners on base.

The Cubs defense was the difference on Saturday night. Starlin Castro had his best night in the field. Castro turned in several excellent plays and he played with a confidence that he has been missing all season. Luis Valbuena and Anthony Rizzo made game-changing plays in the field as well.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 16th home run of the season leading off the third inning. Soriano passed Derrek Lee for 11th on the Cubs’ All-Time Home Run list with 180. Soriano is 10 shy of Hack Wilson (190) for tenth place on the Cubs list. Soriano also inched closer to Johnny Bench (389) for the most home runs in Major League history. Bench is 57th on the All-Time list, one behind Graig Nettles.

If Saturday was Matt Garza’s final game with the Cubs at least his last win came against the Cardinals.

With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 42-50 on the season.

Matt Garza retired the Cardinals in order to start the game on 15 pitches, nine for strikes. After the Cubs went down in order in the first on just eight pitches, six for strikes, Garza retired Craig on a grounder to Barney to begin the second. Matt Adams blooped a single into left on a 0-2 pitch for the first hit of the game. Freese flied out to left center. Jon Jay ripped a two out single into center. With two on and two down, Tony Cruz pulled Garza’s first pitch into left. Adams scored and the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead. Lance Lynn flied out to center to end the inning. Garza threw 29 pitches, 20 for strikes, over the first two innings.

The offense got Garza the run back, and then some, in the bottom of the second with help from the Cardinals’ defense.

Alfonso Soriano led off the second with a double to right center on a 2-0 pitch. Soriano read the play perfectly and slid into second with the two-bagger. Dioner Navarro pulled a 1-1 pitch into right field. Beltran charged but overran the ball. Soriano paused around third before Beltran’s bobble. Soriano jogged in with the Cubs’ first run and tied the game at one. A passed ball by Cruz on a 0-1 offering to Bogusevic allowed Navarro to move up ninety feet. Bogusevic did his job and pulled a 2-1 pitch to second and advanced Navarro to third with one out.

With the infield in, Dave Sappelt singled to center and plated Navarro with the Cubs’ second run of the game. Darwin Barney then grounded a 3-1 pitch toward third. Freese fielded the ball as Wally Bell called catcher’s interference on Tony Cruz. With runners on first and second with one out, Matt Garza squared to bunt and popped up Lynn’s first pitch. The ball sailed over Lynn’s head as the Cardinals’ pitcher slipped and fell. Garza loaded the bases with a strange bunt single. Valbuena could not get the job done and struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch for the second out.

Starlin Castro dribbled a 1-1 pitch up the third baseline. Cruz picked up the swinging bunt but had no play. Sappelt scored and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead. Rizzo grounded out to short to end the inning. Lynn needed 39 pitches, 24 for strikes, to complete two innings after a laborious 31-pitch second inning.

Matt Garza faced the minimum in the third after issuing a leadoff walk to Matt Carpenter. Descalso grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice and was thrown out on a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out when Garza struck out Beltran swinging.

Alfonso Soriano led off the third with a booming homer just to the left of straight away centerfield. Soriano crushed Lynn’s first pitch of the inning through the wind and into the shrubbery in center. Lynn retired Barney, Bogusevic and Sappelt to end the inning.

Matt Garza worked his way in and out of a huge jam in the fourth without allowing the Cardinals to chip into the lead. Matt Adams reached on a bloop single to left center (2-0 pitch). Garza appeared to catch Freese looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out but Wally Bell did not ring him up. David Freese ripped Garza’s next pitch into the gap in right center. Adams stopped at third on a double by Freese. Jon Jay popped out to shallow left center for the second out. Adams did not attempt to tag on Bogusevic. Garza intentionally walked Cruz to load the bases for Lance Lynn. Garza retired Lynn on a grounder to second for the third out. Garza threw 62 pitches over four innings, 38 for strikes.

Darwin Barney led off the fourth with a single to left. Garza popped up another bunt, but this one was caught by Matt Adams for the first out. Luis Valbuena lifted a 0-1 pitch from Lynn out to right. The ball ended up in the basket and the Cubs took a 6-1 lead on Valbuena’s eighth longball of the season. Starlin Castro smoked Lynn’s first pitch toward third. The ball hit off Freese’s left knee and ended up in shallow left center. Castro hustled out of the box and ended up at second with what was ruled as an error by David Freese. Rizzo walked to put two on for Soriano. But Lynn induced a 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

After four complete, the Cubs had a 6-1 lead.

Matt Garza gave up a two out single to Beltran in the fifth … but that was all.

The Cubs loaded the bases in the fifth but could not tack on. Brian Bogusevic reached on an infield single with one out. Dave Sappelt singled to center to put two on for Darwin Barney. Mike Matheny decided that was enough for Lance Lynn and went to his pen for Keith Butler. Barney struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Both runners took off on the full count pitch and advanced ninety feet. Butler hit Garza and loaded the bases. Luis Valbuena flied out to right for the third out.

Matt Garza gave up a two-out single to Jon Jay in the sixth, but struck out Tony Cruz swinging to end the inning. Garza threw 92 pitches, 58 for strikes, in six innings.

Carlos Martinez made quick work of the Cubs in the sixth and after six complete, the Cubs led 6-1.

Matt Garza retired Rob Johnson on a pop out to Castro in shallow left for the first out in the seventh. Matt Carpenter singled to right and advanced to third when Daniel Descalso singled to center on a 3-2 pitch. Garza struck out Beltran swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out but could not get past Allen Craig.

Allen Craig pulled a 0-1 pitch into left. Carpenter scored and cut the Cubs lead to 6-2. Dale Sveum made his way of the dugout and went to his pen for Matt Guerrier.

A visibly upset Matt Garza left the game to a standing ovation. Garza’s frustration continued to show in the dugout. Matt Guerrier did his job and got out of the inning when Matt Adams flied out to left for the third out.

Carlos Martinez retired the side in order in the seventh and after seven complete, the Cubs had a 6-2 lead.

Blake Parker took over for Guerrier in the eighth and Julio Borbon replaced Dave Sappelt in right field for defensive purposes. Parker struck out David Freese swinging for the first out. Jon Jay doubled to left center on a 3-2 pitch. Parker jumped ahead of pinch-hitter Shane Robinson 0-2. Parker ended up walking Robinson to put two on with one out. Mike Matheny went to his bench and sent up Yadier Molina to hit for Rob Johnson.

Yadier Molina hit a deep fly to right and toward the line. Julio Borbon ran toward the padded wall and appeared to get a glove on the ball. But replays showed Borbon simply missed the ball. The Cardinals loaded the bases on E9. Sveum went to his pen for lefty James Russell.

Matt Carpenter worked a full count before hitting a routine fly into left. Soriano caught the ball, Jay tagged and scored … 6-3 Cubs. Daniel Descalso flied out to Bogusevic in left center to end the inning.

The Cubs loaded the bases again in the eighth but came away empty.

Julio Borbon doubled down the left field line with one out. Randy Choate struck out Valbuena swinging. Starlin Castro reached on an infield single to the hole between first and second. Matt Carpenter made an excellent diving stop to save a run. Anthony Rizzo walked on four pitches to load the bases. Matheny went to his pen for righty Seth Maness to face Soriano. Alfonso Soriano grounded out to third to end the inning.

After eight complete, the Cubs led 6-3.

Kevin Gregg made quick work of Carlos Beltran (flyout to center) and Allen Craig (swinging strikeout) to start the ninth. Gregg then issued a four-pitch walk to Matt Adams. Gregg fell behind Freese before issuing his second straight two-out walk. Jon Jay stepped in representing the tying run and pulled a 1-1 pitch off Barney’s glove into right field. With runners on first and third with two down, Pete Kozma hit for Seth Maness and chopped a 1-0 pitch toward short. Starlin Castro made an excellent pick and a quick throw to first. Anthony Rizzo scooped the low throw to retire Kozma to end the game.

Travis Wood faces Adam Wainwright in the series finale on Sunday night.

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Quote of the Day

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