Game Thirty – Cubs 9 Cardinals 3
WP – Ted Lilly (2-4) LP – Kyle Lohse (3-1) Save – None
After two disappointing losses, the Cubs avoided their first three game losing streak of the season with an impressive win against the Cardinals. The Cubs improved to 11-9 at new Busch Stadium in front of the largest crowd in the park’s short three-year history. Ted Lilly did exactly what his team needed after Piniella emptied his bullpen on Friday night. Lilly turned in his third quality start in a row and held the Cardinals to 3 runs on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk in 7 innings. Lilly allowed only 1 hit in the first 3 innings and put together his best outing of the year. Two of the three runs the Cardinals scored off of Lilly were solo home runs by Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols. Lilly kept the ball down, found a rhythm and most importantly threw strikes. Carlos Marmol tossed two perfect innings, 24 pitches, in relief of Lilly with a strikeout.
The Cubs offense clicked on all cylinders after managing just 1 hit in the first 3 innings and sending only 9 to the plate against Kyle Lohse. Ryan Theriot started the 6-run 4th inning with a 1-out single. Kosuke Fukudome doubled in Theriot with the Cubs’ first run. Geovany Soto doubled in a pair and the big hit in the 6th came from Mike Fontenot….a 3-run shot that capped the inning. Fontenot drove in 4 of the Cubs’ 9 runs.
Kosuke Fukudome was 3-for-5 with 2 doubles, a run scored and 2 RBI’s after going hitless on Friday night. Ted Lilly added his second career extra base hit to start the 3-run 7th inning as everyone Piniella sent to the dish, with the exception of Carlos Marmol, recorded at least one hit. Seven of the twelve Cubs’ hits went for extra bases and they showed a lot of patience once again with 7 more walks on the afternoon.
Lou Piniella’s crew put on a show and improved to 6 games over .500 with the win. On a day the Cubs sent a member of their starting rotation back to the minors, Ted Lilly stepped up and turned in a great performance. Lilly was once again the ‘Bulldog‘ and gave the offense time to put runs on the board against Kyle Lohse. Lilly really did not have many stressful innings with 2 of the Cardinals’ 3 runs coming off solo home runs. Lilly retired the first 8 batters he faced and set the tone for the entire afternoon.
Aramis Ramirez was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Ramirez is listed as day-to-day with a bruised wrist and Pat Hughes mentioned during the game Ramirez could be out for the next few days. With Ramirez out, the entire lineup stepped up their game against a pitcher that had been just short of unhittable at home in the first month of the season.
Kyle Lohse faced the minimum through the first 3 innings. He allowed only an infield single to Kosuke Fukudome but erased the mistake on the next pitch to Mark DeRosa. Loshe retired Alfonso Soriano on a fly out to right to start the 4th….then the Cubs offense got to work.
Ryan Theriot singled to center on a 3-2 pitch. Derrek Lee followed with a great at bat. Lee worked the count to 2-2 after falling behind quickly in the count 0-2. Lee took Lohse’s outside pitch into right field, Theriot advanced to 3rd and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s double off the right field wall. Mark DeRosa walked to load the bases. And for the 14th game in a row, the Cubs loaded the bases at least once.
Geovany Soto worked a hitter’s count of 2-1 and then took Lohse’s next pitch over the head of Rick Ankiel in straight away center. The ball bounced over the wall, the Cardinals got a break but the Cubs took a 3-0 lead. Mike Fontenot stepped in and took a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall. His 3-run shot was the first allowed on the season by Kyle Lohse. Fontenot’s second home run of the year gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
Reed Johnson blooped a single into right, Lilly sacrificed him to 2nd but Soriano’s struggled continued, at that point, as he popped out to right to end the inning….
Lohse settled down and retired 6 of the next 7 batters he faced (a walk to Mike Fontenot with 2 outs in the 6th) and the Cardinals appeared to be mounting a comeback.
With the score 6-3, Ted Lilly led off the 7th with a double to right. Lilly slid head first into the bag and in the process recorded his second career extra base hit. Alfonso Soriano put together a good at bat against Lohse, did not chase a breaking ball in the dirt, and drove in Lilly with a ringing double into the corner in left. Tony La Russa replaced Lohse with Russ Springer and Theriot tapped back to the mound for the 2nd out of the inning.
Derrek Lee walked on 4 pitches and Soriano stole 3rd on ball 4. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a hustle double to left center. Soriano scored easily and Lee advanced to 3rd. When Kosuke hit the ball, it looked like just a routine single to left center but the always hustling Fukudome legged out the double….and appeared to surprise the Cardinals in the process. Geovany Soto walked to load the bases.
Springer walked Mike Fontenot to force in Derrek Lee with the Cubs 9th and final run of the afternoon.
Felix Pie added a single and Soriano walked in the 8th. Mark DeRosa hit a double in the 9th and Soto walked but the Cubs left all 4 runners on base in the last 2 innings.
Lou Piniella’s crew put it all together on Saturday afternoon….and hopefully this is a start of a winning streak and not another one game wonder.
Jason Marquis will try to give the Cubs the series win on Sunday night against Todd Wellemeyer. The Cubs have won just 3 times in their last 9 games….but two of three against the Cardinals would be a good way to start the second month of the season.