Game One Hundred Two – Cubs 6 Marlins 3
WP – Carlos Zambrano (11-4) LP – Scott Olsen (6-5) Save – Carlos Marmol (4)
Before Thursday night at the Friendly Confines the last time a Cubs’ team beat the Florida Marlins was on April 25, 2006. Ten games and more than two years later Lou Piniella’s crew ended the drought behind a total team effort….led by Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs’ ace allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, only one extra base hit, with 6 strikeouts and no walks in 7 solid innings. Zambrano threw 125 pitches and retired the Marlins’ dangerous offense just once in order. At the plate, Zambrano tied the game with a double in the 5th inning and scored the go ahead run on a bases loaded walk to Derrek Lee later in the inning.
Lou Piniella received power, and production, from the bottom of his order. Ronny Cedeno hit his second home run of the season in the 3rd inning and Henry Blanco added his second round tripper of the year in the 6th. The seventh, eighth and ninth hitters were 4-for-9 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI’s.
Aramis Ramirez recorded his first 2 hit game of the second half and his 2-out, 2-run double capped the Cubs’ 4-run 5th inning. Derrek Lee drove in the eventual winning run with a bases loaded walk in the 5th that forced in Carlos Zambrano. In his second game back, Alfonso Soriano hit a double in 3 trips to the plate and scored a run in the 5th inning after he was intentionally walked to load the bases.
The game changing play came in the 8th inning. Chad Gaudin gave up back-to-back hits to Alfredo Amezaga and Jorge Cantu. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Neal Cotts replaced Gaudin and walked Wes Helms to load the bases….with no outs. Bobby Howry retired Cody Ross on a fly out to right on the first pitch. Mark DeRosa made a fundamentally sound catch and threw a one-hop strike to Henry Blanco to hold Amezaga at 3rd.
Luis Gonzalez stepped in and fouled off pitch after pitch. Henry Blanco dropped one of the foul balls that gave the former Cub another chance to cut into the 6-2 lead. Gonzalez lined the next offering from Howry into right center and Mark DeRosa made a leaping backhanded catch before hitting the ground. Amezaga tagged and scored on the sacrifice fly but DeRosa’s catch saved 2 runs….if not more.
Carlos Marmol picked up his 4th save of the year but it was anything but perfect in the 9th inning. After striking out Josh Willingham to end the 8th, Marmol walked the first two batters he faced in the 9th inning. Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging for the first out and then Marmol retired Amezaga on a chopper back to the mound. Marmol reloaded the bases with a 4-pitch walk to Jorge Cantu.
Wes Helms worked the count to 3-2 but swung and missed at the ninth pitch of the at bat to end the game. Marmol threw 38 pitches, 20 for strikes, in an inning and a third.
Lou Piniella had half a beer before addressing the media following Thursday night’s win. So while the experts continue to pick the Brewers to win the central, the Cubs became the first National League team to win their 60th game of the season….and improved to 38-12 at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs picked up a much-needed win after a rough week on the road. Carlos Zambrano became the second Cubs’ pitcher to post his 11th victory of the year and performed the way an ace should with the offense struggling to score runs. The Cubs managed 6 runs on 8 hits. Six different Cubs scored….and 4 of the 6 runs were scored with 2 outs. The patience also seems to have returned, a day after walking 5 times, they added 4 more free passes on Thursday.
Carlos Zambrano settled down after giving up a 1-out single to Scott Olsen and a 2-run homer to Hanley Ramirez in the 3rd inning. Zambrano gave up hits, but not another run. Big Z threw 125 pitches, his second highest total of the year, and should be limited in his next start against the Brewers on Tuesday.
Ronny Cedeno put the Cubs on the board with his second home run of the season in the 3rd inning….his last long ball was his grand slam against the Mets back in April. Cedeno also turned in a couple of excellent defensive plays at 2nd base.
Mark DeRosa started the 4-run 5th inning with a 4-pitch walk. Henry Blanco followed with a single to left center. Ronny Cedeno struck out. Carlos Zambrano then hit a double to left that plated DeRosa and tied the game at 2.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out, Alfonso Soriano was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ryan Theriot tapped back to the mound, Henry Blanco was forced at the plate for the first out of the inning. Derrek Lee worked the count to 3-2 then took a very close pitch for ball 4….the bases loaded walk forced in Zambrano with the go ahead run. Aramis Ramirez stepped in and hit a 1-1 pitch over the head of Luis Gonzalez in right. Soriano and Theriot scored but Derrek Lee was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The Cubs were not able to add to their lead after Henry Blanco’s home run in the 6th.
The Cubs won back-to-back games for the first time in the second half….in a game they needed for more than one reason.
Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Josh Johnson on Friday afternoon in game two of the series.