Game Thirty-One – Cubs 4 Brewers 2
WP – Sean Marshall (1-2) LP – Jeff Suppan (2-3) Save – Kevin Gregg (6)
After a nightmare of a weekend at Miller Park, the Cubs salvaged the last game of the series with a solid effort by Sean Marshall, a two-run homer by Alfonso Soriano and a game winning RBI by Milton Bradley.
The Cubs improved to 17-2 when they score four runs or more behind Sean Marshall’s first victory of the year…and first as a starter since July 6, 2008. After a rough start and escaping two early jams, Sean Marshall settled down and did not allow another run in his last three innings of work. Marshall bent but never broke as the cliche goes.
The Cubs offense scored all of their runs in the third inning…and the rally started with a leadoff single by Bobby Scales. With the Cubs down 2-0, Scales singled and Sean Marshall sacrificed him to second. Alfonso Soriano tied the game with his tenth of the season on a 1-1 pitch from Jeff Suppan.
Aaron Miles doubled after the Soriano home run. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a single to right and Milton Bradley drove in the eventual winning run with a single to center.
The Cubs fourth run came on an error by Jason Kendall. Jeff Suppan uncorked a wild pitch with Micah Hoffpauir at the plate. Kendall thought Fukudome was coming down the line, Kosuke broke but held. Kendall threw the ball low and away…Fukudome scampered home.
Angel Guzman put together his best outing of the season. The one-time top-pitching prospect retired all six batters he faced in relief of Sean Marshall. Guzman showed very good command and velocity. He threw 21 pitches, 14 for strikes and two of the six outs were strikeouts of Chris Duffy and Jason Kendall.
Carlos Marmol pitched his way in and out of trouble in the eighth. Ryan Braun led off with a double, advanced to third on a balk but was stranded at third. Marmol walked a pair in the inning but struck out Prince Fielder with Braun on third and no outs. Mike Fontenot made a nice stab in the hole on a grounder off the bat of Jason Kendall and forced Bill Hall at second to end the inning.
Kevin Gregg picked up his sixth save by striking out Ryan Braun swinging for the twenty-seventh out.
Mike Fontenot made several game changing plays defensively at third on Sunday afternoon…and other than Soriano kicking the ball on the triple in the second inning by Jason Kendall, the entire team put together a solid effort in the field.
The Cubs finished a very difficult 20-game stretch with a 10-10 record and the victory on Sunday gave them a 3-2 record on the five-game trip. The Cubs have dealt with injury after injury over the last three weeks and with a 17-14 record are just one-game behind were they were in 2008 after 31 games (18-13 on May 4)…. Lou Piniella’s crew showed a lot of improvement fundamentally on Sunday. They hit with runners on, sacrificed runners into scoring position and made productive outs. Granted Jeff Suppan is not Yovani Gallardo but Suppan is a starter that teams with playoff aspirations should beat, regardless of who is not in the starting lineup.
Sunday afternoon got off to a bad start. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers an early 1-0 lead with his seventh home run of the season. Ryan Braun reached on a one-out walk and advanced to third on a double to left by Mike Cameron. Marshall struck out J.J. Hardy to end the inning.
Bill Hall greeted Marshall with a double to start the second. Jason Kendall followed with his first triple of the year into the left field corner. Alfonso Soriano kicked the ball and took his time getting the ball back in. Kendall hustled around the bases and made it to third with no outs.
With the infield in, Jeff Suppan hit a smash down the third base line. Mike Fontenot made a diving stop, almost tagged out Kendall but threw out Suppan for the first out of the inning. Marshall walked Weeks but retired Corey Hart on a soft liner to short.
Sean Marshall struck out Ryan Braun swinging to end the inning….the Brewers would not score again.
Marshall pitched around two on and two out in the third then retired the last six batters he faced. The Cubs’ fifth starter did his job again…and the bullpen came through on a day the Cubs needed to put a ‘W’ on the board.
After a rough stretch of games that saw them play poorly, place Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez on the DL and take the field for many of their games without Derrek Lee, to play .500 ball and be three games over .500 is not bad. The Cubs are living dangerously but at least they are above the break-even point….
The Cubs have their first off day since April 14 on Monday. Rich Harden will face Jake Peavy in the first of three against the Padres on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.