Game One Hundred Twenty-Two – Cubs 5 Cardinals 4 – 10 innings
A pinch-hit single that gave the Cubs a brief lead in the 8th and a walk off single to win the game in the 10th….not a bad day at the office for Phil Nevin. The Cubs played their second extra innings game in a week against another division rival and won it despite a rough day from the bullpen. Carlos Zambrano threw a very good game, at one point striking out 4 in a row and left the game with the lead but the bullpen could not hold off the Cardinals and it took a big game from Phil Nevin off of the bench and a tremendous catch from Juan Pierre in the 9th to improve their season record against St. Louis at Wrigley to 8-1 and 11-4 overall…. Carlos Zambrano received a no decision despite giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings with both runs being scored in the first 2 innings. Zambrano settled in after striking out Ronnie Belliard with the bases loaded in the 1st and allowed a solo home run to Yadier Molina to lead off the 2nd inning for the other Cardinals run. Zambrano walked just 2 and did not allow a hit after the 2nd inning until a 1 out single in the 6th by Scott Spiezio. Zambrano struck out 6 and allowed 6 hits on the day and if it were not for the bullpen he would have earned his 14th win of the season.
Bobby Howry gave up a solo home run to Chris Duncan in the 8th and Ryan Dempster could not throw strikes and gave up another lead in the 9th. Dempster walked 3 in just a third of an inning of work, throwing only 5 strikes out of 17 pitches. Dempster could not find the strike zone and blew his 6th save of the year. At least Dusty realized Dempster did not “have it” on Saturday and went to the bullpen. Will Ohman did his job in the 9th, striking out pinch hitter Juan Encarnacion after Dempster had walked the bases loaded. Dusty went to the pen for Michael Wuertz to face Pujols with 2 outs and the game on the line. Pujols sent a 1-0 pitch to the deepest part of the field; Pierre tracked it and caught the ball in the ivy just to the left of straight away center. It was a very good leaping catch at the wall and he saved the game for his teamates, Wuertz left the field with his fist in the air and pitched a very good 10th inning; he allowed just a single to Jim Edmonds, who continues to play against the Cubs on days when they say there is no way he will play….just more smoke from Tony LaRussa and company.
The Cubs had their chances all day, 4-17 with RISP but were unable to cash in early against Jeff Suppan. The Cubs out hit the Cardinals, which has become, again, commonplace on the year. In the 4th inning the Cubs scored 2 runs thanks to 2 wild pitches by Jeff Suppan. Ramirez and Jones singled to start the inning and with Henry Blanco at the plate advanced to 2nd and 3rd by the first wild pitch by Suppan. Ramirez scored on a heads up base running play on the second wild pitch and Ronny Cedeno came through with a single off the glove of Aaron Miles at short to tie the game.
Neifi Perez led off the 5th with a perfectly executed drag bunt and scored on a double to left by Matt Murton who was hitting in the 3rd hole on Saturday. With the game tied at 3 in the 8th John Mabry singled to start the inning, Ryan Theriot pinch ran for Mabry and moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Henry Blanco. With 2 outs Phil Nevin blooped a single to center to score Theriot to give the Cubs a brief lead.
Jacque Jones led off the 10th with a double off of Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen and advanced to 3rd on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Angel Pagan. Pagan beat out the throw to first by Isringhausen, which changed the entire inning. Blanco struck out swinging and for some reason the Cardinals intentionally walked Ronny Cedeno to load the bases. Cedeno has played better of late but is hitting only .210 with RISP and has shown that he has trouble performing under pressure. Phil Nevin who was 0-4 lifetime against Isringhausen, stepped to the plate and hit the first pitch into left center field to end the game….take that Tony LaRussa.
Juan Pierre extended his hit streak to 11 games with another multi-hit afternoon. Pierre and Perez were 4 for 10 on the day and Matt Murton did well in the 3rd hole despite not coming through early in the game. Henry Blanco was the only starter not to record a hit, but he did have a walk and a sacrifice bunt. The offense walked 3 times and left 12 on base, not exactly a picture perfect day at the old ball park but anytime the Cubs beat the Cardinals, it is a great day!!!
For the second time in a week rookie Juan Mateo will face a former Cy Young award winner. Mateo out pitched Roger Clemens at the beginning of the marathon game on Tuesday….Can he out pitch Chris Carpenter on Sunday afternoon to take the series? This will be an interesting game to watch….