Game Six – Cubs 8 Brewers 5
WP – Ryan Dempster (1-0) LP – Jeff Suppan (0-2) Save – None
The Cubs offense managed only five hits but it’s hard to get hits when the other team does not throw strikes. The Cubs worked 10 walks on Sunday night and Brewers’ pitching hit two more batters…and the game still came down to the final out in the ninth inning.
Alfonso Soriano led off the game with his fourth home run of the season and 51st leadoff blast of his career. Soriano walked in the third and stole second with Kosuke Fukudome at the plate. With the steal, Alfonso Soriano became the 19th player in the history of the game with at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases. Soriano walked twice on the night and drove in a pair of runs.
The Cubs finally waited out Jeff Suppan in the fourth inning. They scored four runs on one hit and a hit batsman. Suppan issued three walks with the bases loaded and Jorge Julio added a fourth for good measure. It is rare to see a team win a game with only five hits but 17 total baserunners has a tendency to help.
Lou Piniella’s crew tacked on two big runs in the eighth and ninth inning that ended up making a difference. Derrek Lee hit a sacrifice fly to right that plated Joey Gathright in the eighth and Ryan Theriot (2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a RBI) walked and scored on a 2-out double by Koyie Hill in the ninth.
Ryan Dempster struggled through six innings of work. Dempster had command issues all night and gave up four runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Dempster served up a solo home run to Corey Hart in the fourth…and almost a grand slam to Prince Fielder in the fifth.
The Brewers loaded the bases with a pair of singles by Rickie Weeks and Craig Counsell. Dempster hit Ryan Braun on a 0-2 pitch to load the bases ahead of Prince Fielder …with his team up 6-2.
Prince Fielder launched a 1-1 pitch deep to right. Reed Johnson timed his leap at the wall perfectly and took the-would-be first grand slam of his career away from Fielder. Johnson’s glove was behind the wall in right when he made the catch.
Reed Johnson was inserted into the game in the fourth when Milton Bradley left with a strained right groin. Bradley was running from second to third on a single by Ryan Theriot and came up limping. Bradley is listed as day-to-day.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol gave Piniella’s pen some much-needed relief with two shutout innings but Kevin Gregg struggled in the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, Gregg served up a home run to Rickie Weeks, a double to Craig Counsell and walked Ryan Braun.
Gregg struck out Prince Fielder swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
Sunday night at Miller Park was an ugly game on both sides…but a win is a win and the Cubs completed the first week of the season with a 4-2 record. The game started with a very long and sloppy 30 minute first inning. Neither Ryan Dempster nor Jeff Suppan could find a rhythm and both allowed a run in the opening frame. Dempster seemed to struggle from the first batter until Rickie Weeks grounded out to second to end the sixth.
Dempster failed to retire the Brewers in order on the night despite striking out the side swinging in the fourth. Like Carlos Zambrano on Saturday, Ryan Dempster battled through his start and put his team in position to win.
The Brewers first run off Dempster came after a leadoff single by Weeks, a four-pitch walk to Craig Counsell and a ground out to short by Ryan Braun. Dempster issued the intentional pass to Prince Fielder after he missed out of the zone on the first two pitches of the at bat. J.J. Hardy hit a sacrifice fly to center that tied the game at one.
Corey Hart cut the Cubs’ lead to 5-2 with his second home run of the series and the year in the fourth.
The Brewers other two runs off Dempster came in the fifth. Rickie Weeks tagged and scored when Reed Johnson robbed Fielder of the grand slam…and Craig Counsell scored the Brewers fourth run when J.J. Hardy grounded out to third.
The top of the fourth inning was a lesson in patience. Jeff Suppan hit Milton Bradley to start the inning. Aramis Ramirez flied out to left for the first out. Mike Fontenot walked on four pitches and Ryan Theriot singled to center to load the bases.
After Reed Johnson replaced Milton Bradley at third, Koyie Hill walked on four pitches to force in Johnson to give the Cubs the lead. Ryan Dempster grounded out to third, Fontenot was forced at home for the second out.
Alfonso Soriano walked on a 3-2 pitch, Theriot scored and Kosuke Fukudome worked the count to 3-2. Suppan walked Fukudome on the next pitch to force in Koyie Hill…the third walk with the bases loaded.
Ken Macha lifted Suppan but Jorge Julio walked Derrek Lee on four pitches to force in Ryan Dempster with the Cubs fourth and final run of the inning….Reed Johnson grounded out to short to end the inning.
Geovany Soto made his first appearance since last Tuesday in the ninth inning. He pinch hit for Carlos Marmol and struck out.
Mount Lou has to be close to erupting. He was very animated in the dugout during the ninth inning. With the four walks issued by Dempster and Gregg on Sunday, after six games his pitching staff has issued 27 free passes.
The Cubs offense showed many of the characteristics in the first six games as they did a year ago…and with the way the bullpen performed in the first six games, they might have to light up the scoreboard night after night in order to win.
Ted Lilly will take the hill in the home opener on Monday against the Rockies and Ubaldo Jimenez.