Game One Hundred Fifty-Five – Cubs 11 Reds 4
Carlos Zambrano tied his career high in wins on Saturday night in Cincinnati as the Cubs scored 11 runs for the 3rd time in a week. Zambrano threw 7 innings and allowed 4 runs, all in the 2nd inning, on 6 hits, walked 3 and struck out 7. Zambrano also hit his 6th home run of the season to tie Ferguson Jenkins’ record for most home runs in a season by a Cubs’ pitcher. Zambrano led off the 4th with the dinger, a part of a 5 run 4th, and struck out to end the inning. Zambrano threw well despite giving up 4 runs in the 2nd, his inability to field a grounder up the middle by Todd Hollandsworth, opened the door for the Reds big inning. Aramis Ramirez hit his 36th home run of the season in the 1st, a 2-run shot, and added a double as a part of a 2-run 3rd.
The Reds made 6 errors on the night, the most for a Cincinnati Club since April of 1971, and it should have been more. The errors led to several runs for the Cubs and at one point the Cubs had more runs than hits on the evening, something this team has not done this season. They took advantage of the sloppy play by the Reds and did not commit an error of their own until 2 outs in the 9th by John Mabry. The game started after a 9 minute rain delay and was played, without delay, despite rain all around the park.
The win on Saturday was the Cubs 63rd on the year which officially ends the threat of this team being the first Cubs team since 1966 to have a 100 loss season. Zambrano pitched a good game to earn the victory but did not have his “A-game”. Zambrano has always struggled against the Reds and after the 2nd it looked like his struggles were going to continue. Zambrano settled down after the 4-run 2nd and did not allow another run on the night. The big shot of the night came from Brandon Phillips, a 3-run home run in the 2nd after Todd Hollandsworth reached 1st on what would have been a routine double play…the ball deflected off of Zambrano’s glove and ended up in right field. After the Phillips homer, Zambrano walked Ray Olmedo and with 2 outs gave up a double to Dewayne Wise that scored Olmedo to complete the scoring for the Reds.
Kyle Lohse was horrible and gave up 6 runs, 5 earned, on 7 hits in just 3 innings. The Cubs hit the ball hard against him and when the Reds had a chance to make an out, they were unable to. The Cubs scored 3 runs in the 1st. Juan Pierre doubled to start the game and scored on the Reds first error of the game. Ryan Theriot attempted to sacrifice bunt, he was safe at 1st on a throwing error by Javier Valentin and Pierre scored on the error. Aramis Ramirez then homered to score Theriot.
It looked like it was going to be a short night for Zambrano until the 3rd. After the Reds took a brief lead of 4 to 3, Aramis Ramirez doubled to lead off the 3rd and scored on a single by Matt Murton. Angel Pagan attempted to sacrifice him to 3rd and was safe on what should have been another error by Edwin Encarnacion. With runners on 1st and 3rd, John Mabry hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Murton and put the Cubs ahead for good.
The Cubs sent 10 to the plate as a part of the 5-run 4th inning. Zambrano led off the inning with the homer and with 1-out Theriot singled to center. Ramirez reached on the first error of the season at shortstop by Brandon Phillips and Matt Murton walked to load the bases. Bill Bray took over for Jason Standridge and walked Angel Pagan to plate Theriot. John Mabry then singled to right to score Ramirez and Murton. Cedeno and Zambrano struck out to end the inning. The Cubs were quiet until the 7th inning. Ronny Cedeno reached on a throwing error by Edwin Encarnacion and scored on a double to left by Juan Pierre.
Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry were effective in the 8th and Ryan Dempster had more 2-out trouble in the 9th. After striking out the first 2 hitters he faced he gave up a double to Chris Denorfia, John Mabry did not help him with the error off the bat of Dewayne Wise but he induced a ground out off the bat of Scott Hatteberg to first to end the game. Yes Dempster should have been out of the inning with the first ground out to Mabry but his inability to record the 3rd out of an inning, after recording the first two, has to be a cause for concern for the Cubs for 2007.
Juan Pierre stole his 55th base of the year and he and Ryan Theriot continue to be very impressive at the top of the lineup. The two were 4 for 10 with 3 runs scored and a RBI on the night. Aramis Ramirez continues to hear “cha-ching” sounds in his head….he was 2 for 5 with a double, a home run, 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.
Juan Mateo is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday afternoon against the Reds best in Aaron Harang. Mateo needs to throw a quality game for the Cubs.