Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 4 Giants 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (2-1) LP – Jonathan Sanchez (1-2) Save – Kevin Gregg (4)
The Cubs won their fourth in a row behind a great performance by Ryan Dempster…and the third home run in four games by Ryan Theriot. Dempster completed seven innings for the first time this year and struck out a season-high seven batters with just two walks. Dempster stayed away from the big inning that led to his struggles in April.
The Giants scored two runs on five hits off Dempster but the second run in the sixth should have not crossed the plate. Dempster induced the groundball off the bat of Bengie Molina to get out of the inning but the Cubs’ infield could not turn the double play.
Carlos Marmol worked around an infield single by Fred Lewis in the eighth with one of his better performances of the season. Marmol threw his signature slider for strikes and did not fall behind in the count…11 of the 15 pitches Marmol threw were in the zone.
Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save of the season with a shaky ninth. Gregg retired the first batter he faced but walked Randy Winn. Reed Johnson made a running catch in left center on a ball hit by Rich Aurilia to end the game.
The Cubs offense struggled against Giants’ pitching, but did just enough to win. Ryan Theriot came through once again with the big hit…a two-run homer to left in the bottom of the second with the wind blowing in. Theriot’s third of the season ended up being the difference in the game.
The Cubs loaded the bases twice in the early innings against Jonathan Sanchez and managed only two runs. They finished the night 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base. The Cubs seemed more in control all night than the final score indicates.
Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 4-0 in the month of May with their season-high fourth win in a row…and are 4-1 on the six-game homestand with one left to play. The Giants entered play on Monday night a game over .500 and it was not because of their offense. The Giants could arguably have the best staff in the National League from top to bottom and the Cubs beat a very good young pitcher that had not allowed an earned run in his last two starts. While it was not pretty and the Cubs left a lot of men on base, during a long season a team with aspirations of playing in October must find ways to win and on Monday night the Cubs did exactly that.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a bases loaded walk by Geovany Soto. Alfonso Soriano led off with a double to left…that he thought was going out of the park. Ryan Theriot flied out to right center, Theriot’s productive out advanced Soriano to third with one out.
Jonathan Sanchez hit Milton Bradley on a 1-2 pitch on the right foot and advanced to second on the first of three walks of the night by Derrek Lee…bases loaded and one-out.
Aramis Ramirez made his first start since April 24 in St. Louis and struck out swinging for the second out…he simply could not catch up to Sanchez’s fastball. Geovany Soto quickly fell behind Sanchez 0-2 but ended up working a bases loaded walk…1-0 Cubs, and the winning run.
After sending seven to the plate in the first, Aaron Miles started the second with a double down the third base line. Ryan Dempster failed to bunt him over and Soriano grounded out up the middle for the second out…Miles advanced to third.
Ryan Theriot stepped in and hit the first pitch from Jonathan Sanchez into the bleachers in left. After the ball left the park Pat Hughes said, “Theriot with another home run. I cannot believe it.” And Mr. Hughes was not alone…wonder if Milton Bradley will have to keep wearing the LSU t-shirt?
The Cubs fourth and final run came in the fifth inning courtesy of the first RBI of the year by Reed Johnson.
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez reached on back-to-back walks to start the fifth. Geovany Soto then hit a low liner that Randy Winn lost in the lights in right. The ball went under Winn’s glove and rolled toward the wall, but Lee could not score because he went back to tag. The bases were loaded once again…with no outs.
Bruce Bochy brought in Justin Miller to face Reed Johnson.
Johnson looked at two out of the zone before hitting a sacrifice fly to center that plated Lee with the Cubs’ fourth run. Aaron Miles fouled out and Ryan Dempster struck out looking to end the inning.
The Giants scattered two hits over the first five innings off Ryan Dempster but plated a pair in the sixth. Dempster walked Fred Lewis with one out and Ted Lilly’s old buddy, Edgar Renteria, singled to right. Pablo Sandoval singled to center on the first pitch from Dempster…4-1 Cubs.
Bengie Molina followed and hit what appeared to be a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play but Aaron Miles dropped the ball, Renteria scored and the Giants cut the Cubs lead to 4-2 on the miscue. Ryan Dempster struck out Aaron Rowand to end the inning.
Ryan Theriot tied a career high with his third home run of the season and Ryan Dempster pitched seven solid innings for the first time this year. The Cubs have shown a lot of improvement over the last week and on the day they placed their staff ace on the DL, the performance from Dempster was more than welcomed.
Sean Marshall will face Tim Lincecum in the finale of the two-game series on Tuesday afternoon.