Game One Hundred Thirty-Nine – Cubs 7 Pirates 2
Derrek Lee lifted the Cubs out of the National League cellar with a Grand Slam to centerfield in the 8th inning on his 31st birthday. The Cubs loaded the bases in the 8th with a little help from the Pirates then Lee hit his 7th career Grand Slam off of Matt Capps, a line shot into the bleachers. The Cubs need Derrek Lee and on Wednesday he proved why. The Pirates had made several web-gem type plays all night before the 8th, but a mental error by Jose Castillo and slip on the turf by Matt Capps loaded the bases and Lee tattooed the first pitch….a fastball, gift wrapped, down the middle. Derrek Lee is back!!!
On the night Major League baseball saw its first no-hitter in over 2 years, May 18, 2004….Anibal Sanchez, rookie pitcher for the Florida Marlins in his 13th big league start threw a no-hitter on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks….Rich Hill had a tremendous start, struck out 11 and was on top of his game until the 8th inning. Hill and Ronny Cedeno committed throwing errors in the 8th that led to the Pirates only runs of the game. Hill deserved to win the game but most-importantly he put his team in position to win with the quality start. Rich Hill became the first Cub lefty to record 10 strikeouts or more since Steve Wilson back in July of 1990, Wilson struck out 10 twice, once in 1989 and the last time in 1990. Hill had a very good fastball and mixed in his trademark curve ball with very good command. The 11-strikeouts is a new career high and he has shown what the Cubs have been waiting to see.
Wednesday night could have been a preview of years to come, Zach Duke has had a good start to his career and one would think he would be a part of the Pirates rotation for the foreseeable future. Hill and Duke went pitch for pitch and all of the runs the two allowed were due to errors, although Hill did record an earned run. Duke left after the 7th inning and was in line to take the win after the errors by Hill and Cedeno but the Cubs rallied in the 8th with 6 runs, capped off by Lee’s Granny to put the game out of reach. Michael Wuertz picked up the win and Bobby Howry pitched a perfect 9th.
The Cubs sent 11 to the plate in the 8th and scored 6 runs. Angel Pagan led of the inning with a single to center and advanced to 2nd on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Juan Pierre. Pierre laid down the perfect bunt but Jose Castillo forgot to cover 1st, Pierre was safe. Ryan Theriot attempted to give the Pirates another out, laid down a perfect bunt and Matt Capps slipped after fielding the ball, Theriot safe and the bases were loaded with no outs. Aramis Ramirez lined out to short and Derrek Lee crushed the first ball he saw to put the Cubs ahead for good. Matt Murton singled after the slam, stole 2nd with Jones at the plate and the Pirates intentionally walked Jones. Hank White….Henry Blanco singled to left to load the bases and Ronny Cedeno was hit by Brian Rogers to score Murton. Pagan stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning and singled to center to score Jones. Juan Pierre lined out to 1st, Nady stepped on the bag, double play to end the inning.
The Faithful got to stand, the Cubs ended their 4-game losing streak and their 5-game losing streak to the Pirates but most importantly for now, they are cellar dwellers no longer.
Sean Marshall is scheduled to take the hill against Shawn Chacon on Thursday afternoon in the series and homestand finale. The Cubs head to Atlanta after the game and the plane ride would be a lot more enjoyable after consecutive wins.