Game Seventeen – Cubs 7 Cardinals 3
Greg Maddux was the story again on Sunday as he blanked the Cardinals over 7 masterful innings. Maddux actually lowered his league leading ERA to 0.99, and yes you read that correctly….the fountain of youth has found Greg Maddux and he has not looked this good in over a decade and Maddux has never started a season 4-0….until today, number 322 for his career. Maddux faced 26 batters and started all but 4 of them with a strike and held the Cardinals to 5 hits, and 3 of them were to Scott Rolen; Pujols finished the day 0-4. The Cardinals offense got so frustrated that they continually asked to see the ball throughout the game, when Maddux retired the side in the 6th, he walked to the bench smiling….The Professor Held Class on Sunday.
Maddux was the master on Sunday, but he had help from Ronny Cedeno, Juan Pierre and Todd Walker. The Cubs finished the road trip 5-4 and now lead the season series against the Cardinals 4-2 and recorded their first win at new Busch Stadium. A beautiful Sunday for Maddux and the Cubs…. The Juan Pierre Factor was felt on Sunday. Pierre was 2 for 5 and scored 3 runs, but it was he presence that caused a lot of trouble for Jason Marquis and the Cardinals. Pierre doubled to lead off the 3rd and scored the first run of the ballgame. Ronny Cedeno bunted him to 3rd and Todd Walker singled up the middle to score Pierre. In the top of the 5th Pierre led off the inning by reaching on an error by Aaron Miles (Miles committed 2 of the 3 Cardinals errors on Sunday). Miles was unsure of how he should play the ground ball and Pierre’s speed had an affect on Miles’ decision. Pierre reached and Cedeno bunted him to 2nd, Cedeno’s second sac bunt on the day. Pierre then scored on the 2-run home run by Aramis Ramirez. In the top of the 7th, Greg Maddux led off the inning with a single and in Pierre’s attempt to bunt him to 3rd (Maddux had advanced on a wild pitch), Marquis fielded the ball and attempted to go after Maddux, Marquis fumbled the ball….Maddux safe….Pierre safe. Cedeno doubled; Maddux scored….Pierre to 3rd. Todd Walker singled them home and Ramirez popped up on the first pitch to end the inning.
Ronny Cedeno finished the day 2 for 3, a double and a triple….2 sac bunts, that led to 2 runs, an RBI and a run scored. Cedeno now leads the Cubs in extra base hits with 8. Cedeno played well in the field and responded well with hitting in the 2 hole for the last 2 games….3 sac bunts in 2 games….great job and patience at the plate.
Todd Walker played a solid first base and went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI’s. Walker is now hitting .408 on the season and has to be in the lineup everyday until Lee returns. Aramis Ramirez and Jacque Jones both homered, but that was the only hits the two had on Sunday. Jones still looked incredibly uncomfortable at the plate and swung at the first pitch he saw on the afternoon. Jones finished the day 1 for 4, without a strikeout. Aramis Ramirez did have the 2-run homer in the 5th, but the ball in the top of the 3rd was not hit that deep and Ramirez admired it again. Ramirez finished the day 1 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBI’s, but he is still hitting .196.
The Cubs offense pounded out 9 hits and scored 7 runs and left 5 on base….a good day for the Combination Ball to come back into focus.
The Cardinals did not score until the 8th inning when they scored 1 off of Roberto Novoa and Ryan Dempster gave up his first earned runs since August 12, 2005 (against the Cardinals) and ended his scoreless innings streak. Dempster gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in the 9th.
The Cubs now head home to Wrigley for an 8 game home stand. 3 against the Marlins. 3 against the Brewers and 2 against the Pirates. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to go on Monday against the Fish….hopefully Zambrano can get his season started on Monday night and the Cubs can get a couple of wins against the very young Florida Marlins.
Great game for Maddog and the Cubs….