Game Ninety-Eight – Cubs 4 Cardinals 3
WP – Carlos Zambrano (13-7) LP – Kip Wells (4-13) Save – Ryan Dempster (17)
Carlos Zambrano became the first National League pitcher to reach the 13-win plateau with a solid performance against the Cardinals on Tuesday night. Zambrano’s scoreless inning streak reached 20 1/3 innings before the Cardinals scored 2 runs in the 5th inning to take the lead in the ballgame. The Cubs tied the game in the 6th and took the lead in the 7th after an error by Scott Rolen allowed Ryan Theriot to reach base with 2 outs. The Cubs took advantage of the gift and tacked on a very important run with 2 outs in the 9th that proved to be the game winner.
Lou Piniella’s bullpen was solid once again and Ryan Dempster picked up his first save since June 19th despite giving up a run in the 9th. Dempster brought the winning run to the plate but was able to retire Albert Pujols on a ground out to 2nd to end the game. The win did come at a price. Mark DeRosa left in the 3rd inning with left hamstring tendonitis. Ronny Cedeno, in his first game back from Iowa, tied the game in the 6th with a single to left and the RBI machine, known as Aramis Ramirez, drove in the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. Ryan Theriot scored both of the Cubs’ runs in the 7th and 9th innings. While both teams played a very good game….solid pitching, good defense and timely hitting, this game will likely be remembered by all the questionable calls by home plate umpire, Larry Poncino and the time out allowed by 3rd base umpire Gary Darling in the 9th that gave Alfonso Soriano two extra pitches after he had already struck out. Both benches and starting pitchers had problems with Poncino all evening but in his defense, he was equally bad on both sides.
Kip Wells pitched a very good game and did not deserve to pick up his NL leading 13th loss. Wells retired the Cubs in order in the 1st inning on just 5 pitches and held the Cubs offense in check until the 6th. With the game tied in the 7th, he appeared to be out of the inning but the error by Rolen kept the inning going and the Cubs scored the eventual go-ahead run two batters later.
The Cubs scored in the 2nd inning after Aramis Ramirez singled to center to start the inning. Cliff Floyd grounded into a fielder’s choice that forced Ramirez at 2nd. Mark DeRosa worked the count to 3-2 and that changed the entire inning. Floyd broke with the pitch and DeRosa grounded out to Adam Kennedy….Floyd advanced to 2nd on the play. Jacque Jones then singled to right center to drive in Floyd with the game’s first run….with 2 outs. The RBI single ended 15 consecutive innings of scoreless ball for the Cubs.
The Cubs had a chance to add to their lead in the 5th but after a walk to Jacque Jones and a 2-out single by Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano popped out to end the inning. When the Cubs came back to the dugout at the end of the 5th inning they found themselves trailing the Cardinals 2-1….but that would not last long.
Ryan Theriot reached on an infield single but with Derrek Lee at the plate, Yadier Molina threw out Theriot trying to steal 2nd. Lee followed with another infield single and Aramis Ramirez reached on a bloop single to right. Albert Pujols then robbed Cliff Floyd of an extra base hit on an excellent diving play but Lee and Ramirez both moved up 90′. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Ronny Cedeno came through with a big 2-out RBI that scored Derrek Lee to tie the game. Jacque Jones walked to load the bases but Jason Kendall grounded out to short to end the inning.
Ryan Theriot reached on an error by Scott Rolen with 2 outs and nobody on in the 7th. Derrek Lee walked and Theriot scored on a single to left by Aramis Ramirez. Tony LaRussa lifted Kip Wells and brought in Randy Flores to face Cliff Floyd. Floyd popped out to Rolen in foul ground to end the inning.
Russ Springer retired the Cubs in order in the 8th but he walked Theriot on 4 pitches with 2 outs in the 9th. Theriot stole 2nd then Derrek Lee singled to left to score Theriot with the winning run. Derrek Lee made a big impact in the field and at the plate in his first game back from his suspension.
Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game but again ran up his pitch count and allowed his emotions to get the best of him from time to time. Zambrano allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 1/3 innings with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. He sat down the Cardinals in order on 14 pitches in the 1st inning and did not give up his first hit until the 3rd. Aaron Miles led off the inning with a double to right center. Zambrano retired “his future catcher“, Yadier Molina, on a ground out to 2nd. Miles advanced to 3rd but Zambrano struck out Kip Wells for the second out. Adam Kennedy flied out to right to end the inning.
Zambrano retired the first two batters he faced to start the 4th. Chris Duncan singled to center and Zambrano walked both Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen to load the bases. He gathered himself and on a 2-2 pitch got Miles to fly out to right center to end the inning.
Kip Wells started the Cardinals rally in the 5th with a 1-out single to center. Adam Kennedy singled to right, Wells advanced to 3rd then Skip Schumaker tripled to left center. Wells and Kennedy scored to give the Cardinals the lead.
After the Cubs tied the game in the top of the 6th, Zambrano retired the Cardinals in order in the bottom of the inning. He started the 7th with the lead but could not find the strike zone. He fell behind Molina 3-0 before striking him out looking….Molina tried to call time but it was not granted and he looked at the ball right down the middle. So Taguchi worked a walk and that was the last batter Zambrano would face. Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Will Ohman to face Adam Kennedy. LaRussa countered with David Eckstein and he flied out to center for the second out. Piniella made the slow walk again, this time for Senor Nasty….Carlos Marmol.
Marmol appeared to get out of the inning but Ronny Cedeno booted a grounder off the bat of Juan Encarnacion. Marmol faced Pujols and retired him on a ground out to 3rd to end the inning.
Bobby Howry pitched the 8th and worked around a 2-out single by Scott Rolen. Ryan Dempster took the hill in the 9th and gave up a lead off single to Molina. LaRussa brought in Brendan Ryan to run for his catcher. Taguchi flied out to center and Eckstein grounded out to 2nd but Ryan advanced to 2nd on the play. Ryan Ludwick followed with a single to left. Soriano bobbled the ball (his 4th error in the last 11 games), Ryan scored to cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3. Albert Pujols stepped in and grounded out to 2nd to end the game….he was 0-for-5 on the night.
This was a good win for Lou Piniella’s crew.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday against Adam Wainwright.