Game One Hundred Thirty-Eight – Cubs 8 Dodgers 2
WP – Ted Lilly (14-7) LP – Eric Stults (1-3) Save – None
Ted Lilly tied Carlos Zambrano for the club lead with his first win since August 9th. Lilly gave Lou Piniella a quality start in a game that was much closer than the final score. Lilly allowed 1 run while he was on the mound, a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal in the 5th. Lilly threw strikes, showed very good command and the only walk he gave up was to the last batter he faced. Carlos Marmol allowed a rare inherited run to score in the 7th but did not allow another hit and maintained the lead. With the game still in question, Bobby Howry threw a perfect 8th inning. Ryan Dempster struck out Shea Hillenbrand in the 9th for the 1000th strikeout of his career.
The Cubs scored more runs on Wednesday night than in their last 2 games combined. Geovany Soto drove in the first run of the game, was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI and his 1-out walk in the 8th started the 4-run inning. Aramis Ramirez hit his 20th home run of the season in the 3rd, a 2-run shot to left. Mark DeRosa was 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s while Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with a run scored. Ryan Theriot’s pinch-hit double started the scoring in the 8th and Jacque Jones added RBI single in his only plate appearance.
Lou Piniella’s crew won a big game against a very good team fighting for a playoff spot of their own. The Cubs improved to 15-21 against lefties, maintained their one half game lead against the Brewers and gained a game on the Cardinals. Lou Piniella pulled all the right strings on Wednesday night. He gave players like Ryan Theriot, Jacque Jones and Jason Kendall the night off, for the most part, while getting very valuable production out of their “replacements“. Craig Monroe struggled a little in center, but Wrigley Field is like no other park. Monroe ended up playing all 3 outfield positions after his former manager recommended to Piniella that he start in center. Monroe scored the first run of the night on a single by Geovany Soto.
Geovany Soto, on the other hand, made life a little more difficult for his skipper. Soto turned in arguably the best complete performance from a Cubs’ catcher this season. Soto was solid behind the plate, caught a good game, made a catch in foul ground and threw out a baserunner….granted it was a delayed steal and Shea Hillenbrand, but still it was the first of his career. Soto showed why he was named the PCL’s Most Valuable Player. He hit the ball hard and the single he was given in the 4th should have been a double….Juan Pierre was given an error when he bobbled the ball, but there was no way Pierre would have thrown out Soto at 2nd only a couple of steps from the warning track in left center. Soto showed very good patience at the plate and made his at bats count.
And finally Ronny Cedeno…. While Cedeno did not add anything at the plate, he played a solid shortstop and his concentration on a ball that bounced off of the glove of Aramis Ramirez in the 3rd kept the tying run from scoring and changed the momentum of the game.
On another note…. Mark DeRosa once again showed off his versatility. DeRosa came up big hitting behind Soriano, despite the fact he hit into the Cubs’ 9th double play of the series in the 1st inning. DeRosa started the game at 2nd and ended it in right….what more can a manager ask for?
“The Fun Inning”…. The 8th inning might have been exactly what Lou Piniella’s offense needed. The Cubs scored 4 runs, sent 10 to the plate and showed a lot of patience in the process. The struggling offense looked relaxed and took what they were given, they did not try to pull everything and most importantly….kept the line moving. The only negative from the inning was Craig Monroe being thrown out trying to steal 2nd for the first out. The Cubs were up by only 2 at the time and it appeared Monroe missed a sign after Lou Piniella “talked” to him once he returned to the bench.
After Monroe was thrown out, Soto walked on 4 pitches (Soto showed a very good eye and did not swing at a few borderline pitches). Piniella sent up Daryle Ward to pinch hit for Ronny Cedeno but Grady Little countered with a lefty out of the pen, Mark Hendrickson. Piniella then pulled Ward for Ryan Theriot and he responded with a double to right center past a diving Juan Pierre. Soto scored from 1st and if not for the catcher running, Theriot would have had a triple (Theriot is 3-for-8 with 3 RBI’s off the bench this year). With Jacque Jones at the plate, Theriot stole 3rd. Jones singled to center through the drawn in infield to score Theriot. Soriano followed with a double to left and with the infield in and runners on 2nd and 3rd, DeRosa singled to left for his 3rd hit. Derrek Lee grounded out to 3rd, DeRosa was forced but Jeff Kent airmailed the throw….Lee to 2nd, it was the Dodgers’ third error of the night. Little intentionally walked Ramirez and Piniella sent up Cliff Floyd. Floyd reached on an infield single to 3rd….the ball stayed on the line and did not roll foul. But with the bases loaded, Monroe flied out to right.
While Wednesday night will be remembered for the offensive breakout, Ted Lilly set the tone for the game. Lilly was solid. He threw only 94 pitches in 6 2/3 innings (64 strikes) but 2 of the 6 hits he gave up was to the Dodgers’ pitcher, Eric Stults. Lilly showed very good command and appeared to get stronger as the game went on. After a 22-pitch 1st inning he worked around a bloop single by Shea Hillenbrand (Monroe misplayed the ball in center). Soto threw out Hillenbrand on a delayed steal and Lilly faced the minimum.
In the 3rd, Lilly gave up a double to Eric Stults (the 4th game in a row the opposing pitcher has recorded a hit, Stults added his 2nd of the night in the 5th). Furcal tapped back to Lilly and Stults advanced. Aramis Ramirez had to play even with the bag at 3rd with Juan Pierre at the plate. Pierre almost made Ramirez pay and lined a shot of his glove but fortunately it ricocheted to Ronny Cedeno to end the inning.
Lilly gave up a lead-off single to Matt Kemp in the 4th but Jeff Kent and Andre Either swung at the first pitch and popped out to 2nd and left center respectively….2 pitches, 2 outs. Hillenbrand looked at strike 3 and Lilly was done after 8 pitches.
Mike Lieberthal doubled with 1-out in the 5th. Stults followed with his 2nd hit of the game. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Furcal flied out to right to plate Lieberthal but Pierre grounded out to short to end the inning.
Lilly’s first 1-2-3 inning came in the 6th and he retired the first 2 batters he faced in the 7th. A 2-out walk to Lieberthal ended Lilly’s night….it was the first and only free pass he allowed. Carlos Marmol came in to face Olmedo Saenz. Saenz doubled to center to score Lieberthal and cut the Cubs lead to 4-2. While Marmol gave up the hit, Felix Pie slipped on the wet outfield grass and the ball rolled all the way to the wall….it will go as an inherited run scored against Marmol. Furcal stepped in and popped out to Soto in foul ground to end the inning.
The Cubs played a solid, complete game on Wednesday night.
Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Derek Lowe in the finale of the series and season against the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon.