Cubs Offense Breaks Out and Beats Burnett – Cubs 8, Phillies 3

Game Six – Cubs 8, Phillies 3

WP – Carlos Villanueva (1-2) LP – A.J. Burnett (0-1) Save – None

wflag-pub2014The Cubs used a pair of four-run innings and a solid start by Carlos Villanueva to salvage the finale of the three-game series with the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs offense matched their season run total on Sunday by scoring eight runs on six hits and equaled the amount of hits with runners in scoring position in the process. The Cubs had managed eight runs over the first five games and were 4-for-40 with RISP. The Cubs went 4-for-7 with RISP on Sunday while leaving six men on base. Entering play Sunday, the Cubs were the only team this season that had not scored more than a single run in any inning and that ended in the first inning.

The offense had a good game plan against A.J. Burnett. The entire lineup made him work and the Cubs walked six times against Burnett in 5 2/3 innings. Three of the six walks scored in the first inning as the Cubs sent eight men to the plate and scored four runs on two hits and two sacrifice flies.

Ryan Kalish (2-for-3 with a double, a triple, two walks, two runs scored and three RBI) tripled in Emilio Bonifacio (1-for-4 with a walked, two runs scored and a RBI) with the Cubs’ first run. Kalish scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Schierholtz (0-for-2 with a sac fly RBI and a walk) after Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a walk, a RBI and a run scored) walked. Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) doubled in Rizzo and Ryan Sweeney (0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI and a run scored) drove in Luis Valbuena (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) with a sac fly.

Ryan Kalish completed his big day with a two-run double off A.J. Burnett in the Cubs’ four-run sixth inning that chased the Phillies’ starter from the game.

Sunday was a good day for the offense as the Cubs scored eight runs on six hits with seven walks and only five strikeouts. And the Cubs handed A.J. Burnett his first career loss at Wrigley Field (5-1).

Carlos Villanueva threw strikes on Sunday (71 pitches, 53 for strikes) and while he gave up his fair share of hits during his five inning start, he made the big pitch when his team needed one. Villanueva worked his way out of jams in the first and fourth innings without allowing the Phillies to push across any runs. Philly finally got to Villanueva in the fifth but it was only for one run. Villanueva was rewarded with his first victory of the season after allowing one run on six hits with no walks, a hit batsman and three strikeouts.

Brian Schlitter and Hector Rondon pitched three of the last four innings. Schlitter was very good and Rondon was impressive during his two scoreless innings. But Jose Veras had another bad outing.

Jose Veras issued four walks in the ninth with his team by seven runs. Veras gave up a run without allowing a hit and Rick Renteria had to use Pedro Strop on a day in which he should have never warmed up. Strop uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering to Ryan Howard that allowed another run to score. Strop retired Howard on a flyout to left to end the game. Veras was charged with two runs on no hits with four walks and one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning (29 pitches, 12 strikes). Cubs’ pitching did not issue a walk until the ninth inning.

The Cubs improved to 2-4 on the season (1-0 on Sundays) with Sunday’s victory over the Phillies.

Carlos Villanueva was able to wiggle his way out of a first and second one out jam in the first inning by retiring Marlon Byrd on a tapper back to the mound for the third out. Anthony Rizzo made a sensational diving play toward the line to take away extra bases from Ben Revere to start the game. Villanueva threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the first inning.

The Cubs put together their best inning of the young season in the first inning. Emilio Bonifacio walked to start the inning (3-1 pitch) then scored all the way from first on a triple by Ryan Kalish. Kalish launched A.J. Burnett’s first pitch to deep right center. Kalish just missed a home run and had to settle for his first Cubs’ hit being a triple. Anthony Rizzo fell behind 1-2 before working a walk. With runners on the corners and no outs, Nate Schierholtz lifted Burnett’s first pitch to deep left. Domonic Brown hauled it in, Kalish tagged and scored … 2-0 Cubs. Luis Valbuena walked. Starlin Castro pulled the first pitch into the gap in left center. Rizzo scored, Valbuena held at third and the Cubs took a 3-0 lead. With runners on second and third and one down, Ryan Sweeney worked a full count before flying out to center. Valbuena tagged and scored, 4-0 Cubs. John Baker grounded out to short for the third out.

The Cubs scored four runs on two hits with three walks and two sacrifice flies in the first inning … and A.J. Burnett threw 30 pitches, 13 for strikes.

A.J. Burnett settled down after the first inning and Carlos Villanueva was very good in the second and third innings. Villanueva needed 37 pitches, 28 for strikes, to complete three innings on Sunday.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the fourth inning with one out. But Villanueva found a way out of the jam. Marlon Byrd singled to center with one down and advanced to second on a bloop single to left off the bat of Domonic Brown. Carlos Ruiz hit a 2-2 pitch back up the middle that Castro tried to start a 6-4-3 double play before he had the ball. Ruiz reached on Castro’s error and loaded the bases with one out. Cody Asche hit a tapper back to the mound. Villanueva flipped to Baker to force Byrd at the plate for the second out. Burnett hit a lazy fly into center to end the inning. Villanueva threw 62 pitches, 46 for strikes, in the first four innings.

The Phillies put a run on the board in the fifth. Ben Revere blooped a 0-2 pitch over Castro’s head and into left center to start the inning. Revere swiped second on the first pitch to Jimmy Rollins. Rollins singled to center. Revere held at third with no outs. Rollins took off on the first pitch to Utley and ended up at second. With runners on second and third with no outs, Utley hit a liner up the middle, off of Villanueva’s glove and right to Castro. The Cubs’ shortstop threw out Utley at first. And the call was upheld after Ryne Sandberg asked for the umpires to review it. Revere scored on the play, 4-1 Cubs. Ryan Howard hit a liner toward second that Bonifacio made a leaping catch on in the shift and tossed to Castro to complete the inning ending double play.

The Cubs threatened with two outs in the fifth after a two-out walk by Ryan Kalish and an Anthony Rizzo single. Nate Schierholtz worked a walk to load the bases before Luis Valbuena flied out to Byrd at the track in right to end the inning. The Cubs ran up Burnett’s pitching count (90 pitches, 46 for strikes) and went to the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead.

After Brian Schlitter replaced Villanueva for the sixth and retired the Phillies in order, the Cubs went back to work against Burnett in the sixth … and with help from Philly’s defense, knocked Burnett out of the game.

Ryan Sweeney lined a 1-2 pitch into center with one down. The knuckling, sinking liner hit off of Ben Revere’s glove and rolled all the way to the vines in left center. Sweeney ended up at third with the three-base error. Burnett then hit John Baker. After Mike Olt hit for Schlitter and struck out swinging, Emilio Bonifacio ripped a 0-1 pitch back up the middle. Burnett deflected the ball to Rollins. But instead of the Phillies’ shortstop stepping on second to end the inning, he put the ball in his back pocket after he determined he could not throw out Bonifacio at first. Sweeney scored, 5-1 Cubs. Sandberg made the slow walk to the mound but decided to leave Burnett in to face Kalish. Ryan Kalish drove a 2-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Baker and Bonifacio scored, 7-1 Cubs. Brad Lincoln replaced Burnett and Anthony Rizzo made it 8-1 Cubs with a single to left that plated Kalish. Schierholtz worked a full count before flying out to left for the third out.

The Cubs took an 8-1 lead into the seventh and handed the ball to Hector Rondon.

Hector Rondon tossed two, impressive scoreless innings and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up by seven runs.

Jose Veras struggled with his command again in the ninth. Renteria was trying to get his closer some work and he accomplished that goal, but it was not a good outing for Veras. After striking out Ruiz to start the ninth, Veras walked Cody Asche, pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and Ben Revere. Jimmy Rollins dribbled a 0-2 pitch up the third base line that plated Asche with the Phillies’ second run. Valbuena stepped on third for the second out. Chase Utley worked a 3-2 pitch before looking at ball four. With the bases loaded and two-down, Renteria went to his pen for Pedro Strop. Strop’s first pitch skipped past Baker, Revere scored … 8-3 Cubs. Howard flied out to Kalish in left for the third out … game over.

The Cubs have the day off on Monday and will resume play on Tuesday night (7:05pm CDT) with the first of three against the Pirates. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in the opener.

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Quote of the Day

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