Game Fifty-One – Cubs 3 Dodgers 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (6-2) LP – Chad Billingsley (4-6) Save – Kerry Wood (11)
The Cubs needed a win, Lou Piniella needed innings and Ryan Dempster supplied both. Dempster out pitched Chad Billingsley in a good ole fashion pitcher’s duel and made a 2-run home run by Derrek Lee in the 1st inning hold up. Dempster pitched ahead in the count most of the afternoon and worked around putting the leadoff hitters on in the middle innings. The Cubs defense was solid on the afternoon, especially Derrek Lee, but the defensive highlight came in the 8th inning. Kosuke Fukudome turned in a game changing play that will not show up on the highlight reel or in the box score. Fukudome played a double off the wall by Matt Kemp perfectly and kept the tying run from scoring.
Ryan Dempster, Bobby Howry and Kerry Wood were the difference on Monday afternoon. They made their fair share of mistakes but came through with the big pitch when they needed it….the Dodgers left 12 runners on base and 7 in scoring position.
All of the Cubs runs came off long balls by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez….and with their 30th win of the season, avoided their first 3-game losing streak of the year and picked up a half game on the Cardinals and Astros. After giving away the last two games in Pittsburgh over the weekend many questions began to surface about the team….namely the defense, the pitching staff and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs put all of that behind them and rebounded from a disappointing road trip with a solid win against one of the top teams in the National League. Wrigley Field has become a home field advantage for the Cubs and Lou Piniella’s crew has learned how to win at the Friendly Confines….for the next 7 games the Cubs do not have to worry about their struggles on the road.
Ryan Theriot worked a 1-out walk in the 1st inning after Alfonso Soriano flied out to center on the first pitch of the game by Chad Billingsley. Derrek Lee stepped in and deposited a 1-1 pitch from Billingsley into the bleachers in left. Lee’s 12th of the year gave Ryan Dempster all of the runs he would need.
Billingsley retired the next 13 batters he faced after Lee’s home run. Mark DeRosa flipped the order with a 2-out single in the bottom of the 5th….the Cubs’ second hit of the game.
Alfonso Soriano led off the 6th with a walk and advanced to 2nd on a single to right by Ryan Theriot. Derrek Lee struck out and Aramis Ramirez blooped a single into right. Soriano stopped at 3rd to load the bases. Kosuke Fukudome grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning….his second of the year.
The Cubs loaded the bases again in the 7th after a 1-out single by Jim Edmonds. Micah Hoffpauir came through with a 2-out single to left center (his 4th big league hit) and Soriano walked to load the bases. Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch and grounded out to short to end the inning. For the game the Cubs left 6 on base.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 9th home run of the year in the 8th. His solo shot gave the Cubs a very big 2-run lead for Kerry Wood in the 9th.
The Cubs offense scored 3 runs on 7 hits with 3 walks.
Ryan Dempster escaped the 1st inning without any damage after walking Juan Pierre to start the game. Pierre quickly stole 2nd. With 2 outs, Jeff Kent hit a liner off of Ryan Dempster’s glove. Ryan Theriot tried a bare hand pickup but missed and Mark DeRosa backed up the play. Pierre rounded 3rd and was going to score but when he saw DeRosa pick up the ball, stopped and was caught in a run down. Pierre was tagged out by DeRosa to end the inning.
The best inning for Dempster came in the 2nd. The offense gave him a 2-run lead and Dempster responded with a shutdown inning. He retired the Dodgers in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings….6 in a row and did not allow the momentum to shift.
The Dodgers put the leadoff runner on in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings and managed just 1-run off Dempster. Matt Kemp led off the 5th with a double to right. Blake DeWitt grounded out to 1st, Kemp advanced to 3rd and Dempster walked Luis Maza on 4 pitches. Dempster struck out Billingsley and then gave up a bloop infield single to Juan Pierre. Mark DeRosa fielded the ball but could not get it out of his glove. Kemp scored the Dodgers only run of the afternoon. Andre Ethier then flied out to center to end the inning.
Bobby Howry loaded the bases in the 8th and was aided by the great defensive play by Kosuke Fukudome. After issuing an intentional walk to Blake DeWitt to load the bases with 1-out, Howry struck out James Loney and retired Delwyn Young on a fly out to left center to end the inning.
Kerry Wood retired 3 of the 4 batters he faced in the 9th….the 27th out, a swinging strikeout of Chin-lung Hu.
The win was not spectacular, it was a low scoring game, but arguably one of their best all-around efforts of the season.
Sean Gallagher is scheduled to face Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.