Game One Hundred Fifteen – Cubs 11 Astros 4
WP – Jason Marquis (7-7) LP – Brandon Backe (6-11) Save – None
The Cubs early one run lead did not last long after a misplayed ball and Lance Berkman’s first RBI of the season against the Cubs in the 3rd inning. A 2-out walk to Hunter Pence and the 27th career home run off Cubs’ pitching by Carlos Lee gave the Astros a 4-1 lead….it looked like another bad inning by Jason Marquis would lead to the seventh loss of the season to the Houston Astros.
Ryan Theriot began the-would-be-comeback in the bottom of the 3rd with a 1-out single to right. After a fly out to right by Derrek Lee, both Aramis Ramirez and Jim Edmonds worked 2-out walks to load the bases. Mark DeRosa stepped in after giving the Cubs the lead in the 2nd inning with a double. DeRosa looked at ball one, swung and missed at Backe’s second offering then lifted his third pitch into the bleachers in left center….Ron Santo yelled ‘grand salami‘ as DeRosa circled the bases with his eighth RBI in the last two games. DeRosa gave a curtain call as the Cubs offense got back to work against Brandon Backe.
Kosuke Fukudome doubled down the right field line and after Cecil Cooper intentionally walked Geovany Soto, Jason Marquis got into the act. Marquis ripped Backe’s first pitch to the wall in right and just missed a home run. His third double of the year gave his team a 6-4 lead.
Alfonso Soriano then launched Backe’s next pitch deep into the left field bleachers for his second 3-run homer in two games and his 21st long ball of the year. The Cubs scored all 8 runs in the 3rd inning with 2 outs and tacked on two more in the 4th to put the game away.
Kosuke Fukudome drove in Derrek Lee with a bases loaded single to right and after Cecil Cooper lifted Brandon Backe, Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly into center that plated Aramis Ramirez with the Cubs 11th run on the afternoon.
Each of Piniella’s starting nine scored at least one run on 11 hits with 6 walks….and after being shutout in the rain shortened game on Monday, the Cubs scored 22 runs in the last 18 innings of the series.
With the win the Cubs are a season high 23 games over .500 with a National League best 69-46 record. The victory on Wednesday was also the Cubs 43rd at Wrigley this season, one short of the 44 they totaled at home in 2007.
The Cubs first run of the game came in the 2nd inning after back-to-back doubles by Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa.
The 3rd inning was a sight to behold after Alfonso Soriano led off the inning by popping out to 2nd base. Ryan Theriot singled to right and after a fly out to right by Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez showed a lot of patience at the plate. Ramirez took a called first pitch strike and then turned the game around.
Ramirez could have tried to be the ‘hero’ but instead he showed that his team does come first. Ramirez walked with his team down by three and gave Jim Edmonds a chance to tie up the game….but Edmonds followed the example set by Ramirez and worked the second consecutive 2-out walk.
A sign of a good team is everyday there appears to be a different player that steps up and provides a spark….and Wednesday it was Mark DeRosa’s turn. DeRosa’s second grand slam of the season, and fourth of his career, gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead….and they never looked back.
Kosuke Fukudome kept the line moving with a double to right and scored after Soto was intentionally walked and Jason Marquis lined a double off the wall in right. Alfonso Soriano followed with his team leading 21st home run of the season….and this from a player that has missed half of the year.
What was important on Wednesday was that the Cubs did not let up with a 9-4 lead and kept tacking on….at least for one more inning.
Derrek Lee led off the 4th with a walk and advanced to 2nd on a single by Aramis Ramirez. After a fly out by Jim Edmonds advanced Lee to 3rd, Mark DeRosa walked to load the bases. Kosuke Fukudome drove in his second run of the afternoon with a single to left.
Brandon Backe departed and Geovany Soto drove in Ramirez from 3rd on a sacrifice fly to center off of Tim Byrdak.
Sean Marshall replaced Jason Marquis in the 7th and threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball. Marshall gave up a hit and struck out one. Jeff Samardzija retired the Astros in order in the 9th with a strikeout on 13 pitches.
While the clutch 2 out hits by Mark DeRosa, Kosuke Fukudome, Jason Marquis and Alfonso Soriano made the headlines, the fact the Cubs offense made the Astros’ pitchers work was the difference….Cubs’ pitching tossed 138 and the Astros threw 160.
The Cubs finished the 20-game stretch following the All-Star break with a 12-8 record, after starting 4-6.
Lou Piniella’s crew will get a well-deserved day off on Thursday before welcoming the St. Louis Cardinals to town on Friday for the first time this season. Ted Lilly will face Braden Looper in game one on Friday afternoon.