Game Fifty-Seven – Cubs 6 Brewers 2
WP – Carlos Zambrano (6-5) LP – Jeff Suppan (7-6) Save – None
The Cubs last trip to Wrigley Field North for the 2007 season was a memorable one for Carlos Zambrano and Felix Pie. Zambrano recovered from his last start and turned in one of his best performances of the season while Felix Pie’s second home run of the year powered the Cubs to their first series win since the middle of May. Zambrano did not allow a hit until the 4th inning and set a season high in strikeouts with 9.
The Brewers defense committed three errors that led to Jeff Suppan’s first loss of the season against the National League Central. The Cubs took advantage of the Brewers mistakes and the free passes allowed by Suppan but the victory did come at a price, Aramis Ramirez left the game in the 2nd inning with a left knee sprain. Felix Pie and Carlos Zambrano accounted for 5 of the Cubs 8 hits, drove in 4 of the 6 runs and scored 4 of the 6 runs as well. Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot turned in the other 3 hits on the afternoon. With all eyes on Zambrano, he responded extremely well both on the mound and at the plate. Zambrano has not recovered from mistakes this season either of his own making or by his teammates. After Prince Fielder hit his 21st home run in the 6th, Zambrano did not allow it to effect him and remained focused. Zambrano did give up a single to Geoff Jenkins sandwiched in between swinging strikeouts by Johnny Estrada and Bill Hall to end the inning.
Felix Pie has responded extremely well since returning to the Cubs last Sunday. Pie was 6-15 with 4 runs scored and 3 RBI’s in the 3-game series against the Brewers. Pie has a 4-game hitting streak and is 8-20 with 6 runs scored with 4 RBI’s and most importantly….the Cubs are 3-1 with Pie back with the big league club.
Pie scored the first run of the game after a 1-out hustle double down the left field line and advanced to 3rd on a fly out by Derrek Lee. J.J. Hardy committed the first error of the game for the Brewers on a grounder by Aramis Ramirez with 2 outs, Suppan threw the pitch he needed but did not get the out to end the inning.
Koyie Hill walked with 1-out in the 2nd inning and advanced to 2nd on a single to left by Carlos Zambrano. Soriano flied out but Felix Pie came through with a 3-run homer to right center. Derrek Lee walked and stole 2nd and after an 11-pitch at bat, Ramirez reached on the second error of the day by Hardy….but that was the play Ramirez hurt himself on and had to leave the game. Jacque Jones grounded out to 3rd to end the inning.
Mark DeRosa reached to lead off the 3rd inning on an infield single off the glove of Hardy at short but Ryan Theriot grounded to 3rd and DeRosa was forced at 2nd. Koyie Hill grounded out to 1st to advance Theriot to 2nd (the first of two productive outs on the day for Hill….a very important stat that does not show up in a box score). Zambrano singled to right to score Theriot and after a single by Soriano, Pie grounded out to end the inning.
Other than a 1-out double in the 5th by Ryan Theriot, the Cubs offense could not add to their lead or put multiple runners on base until the 9th. Felix Pie singled to right with 1-out, stole 2nd and scored on the Brewers third and final error of the game. Cesar Izturis (who entered the game in the 2nd when Ramirez left with the injury) hit a grounder into the hole at short, Hardy made a strong throw but Prince Fielder did not catch it and Pie scored.
All 6 runs the Cubs scored were with 2-outs….with 2 of the runs coming off of Brewers errors.
Carlos Zambrano threw strikes and remained in control of both his pitches and himself. Zambrano struck out 2 of the first 3 batters he faced and worked around a lead off walk to Prince Fielder in the 2nd. Corey Hart walked with 2-outs in the 3rd but Hardy grounded out to end the inning.
Ryan Braun recorded the first hit of the day off of Zambrano to start the 4th inning….the ball was hit up the middle and Izturis got a glove on it but could not haul it in. Fielder hit a deep fly out into the left field corner that Alfonso Soriano made a good running catch on. Johnny Estrada singled to right (the first clean hit of the day for the Brewers). Zambrano remained in control and struck out Jenkins and retired Bill Hall on a pop out to Theriot at 2nd.
Zambrano retired the Brewers in order in the 5th but Ryan Braun walked with 1-out in the 6th. Fielder hit his 21st homer of the season to center to cut the Cubs’ lead to 5-2. As mentioned, Zambrano did not allow the mistake to effect him. Zambrano struck out Estrada, gave up a single to Jenkins and struck out Hall to end the inning.
Corey Hart reached on a bloop single to right with 2-outs in the 7th to chase Zambrano from the game (Zambrano did not want to leave the game and did not give up the ball right away to Trammell). Carlos Marmol came in to face Hardy and on a 3-1 pitch, flied out to left to end the inning.
Bobby Howry gave up a 1-out single to Fielder in the 8th but Estrada hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Ryan Dempster pitched the 9th and retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a 4-pitch walk to Craig Counsell but Gabe Gross popped out to DeRosa in foul ground at 3rd to end the game.
Alan Trammell finished his term as acting manager with a 3-1 record.
Carlos Zambrano threw 6 2/3 innings and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 9 on 117 pitches, 77 for strikes. Zambrano had a lot to prove and for one day quieted his critics.
The Cubs start a 4-game series in Atlanta on Thursday night with a rematch between Rich Hill and Chuck James. Lou Piniella will be back in the dugout calling all the shots.