Game Seventy – Cubs 5 White Sox 4
WP – Randy Wells (2-3) LP – Jose Contreras (2-7) Save – Kevin Gregg (12)
There is never a dull moment for the Chicago Cubs. Friday afternoon on the South Side had it all. A two-run home run by Jake Fox, his second in as many days … a three-run home run by Geovany Soto that proved to be the game winner … Carlos Marmol’s command issues that allowed the White Sox to cut the Cubs lead to one in the eighth … a misplayed ball in left field by Alfonso Soriano and Andres Blanco … an inning ending 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded in the eighth and the Cubs up by just one run … a controversial called third strike to end the game … and Lou Piniella asking Milton Bradley to take off his uniform and go home in the middle of the sixth inning. And with all of that, the Cubs ended their four game losing streak behind an excellent start by Randy Wells. After not being able to post a win in his first seven starts, Wells won his second game in a row on Friday.
Randy Wells turned in another quality start and for the seventh time in nine starts he allowed two of fewer runs. Wells made only two mistakes … a solo home run by Jermaine Dye in the first inning and a solo home run by Jim Thome in the fourth. Wells left after seven complete with a 5-2 lead. Wells allowed two runs on five hits with two walks, one intentional, and six strikeouts. Wells had struggles in only one other inning and pitched out of it. With two on and two outs with the scored tied at two in the sixth, Wells retired Paul Konerko on a groundout to short to end the inning.
Randy Wells tossed the all-important shutdown inning in the seventh after Geovany Soto gave him a lead.
All five runs by Lou Piniella’s crew was scored on two swings of the bat. Jake Fox gave the Cubs a brief one-run lead with his second home run of the year, a two-run shot in the fourth. Fox launched the no-doubter over the left field wall on the first pitch from Jose Contreras.
Geovany Soto gave the Cubs the lead for good in the seventh. After Jake Fox’s third hit of the game and an error by Paul Konerko that allowed Mike Fontenot to reach, Soto ripped a 0-1 pitch from Jose Contreras into the stands in left center … the first time this season Contreras allowed two home runs in the same game.
Carlos Marmol’s struggles continued on Friday afternoon. Marmol took the mound in the eighth with his team up by a score of 5-2. Marmol walked Gordon Beckham to start the inning before issuing a one-out walk to Alexei Ramirez. Jermaine Dye reached on a bloop single that was misplayed by Alfonso Soriano to load the bases.
Jim Thome drove in both of Marmol’s walks with a double off of Derrek Lee’s glove that trickled down the right field line. With first base open, Marmol intentionally walked Paul Konerko to re-load the bases before being replaced by Sean Marshall.
Marshall threw one-pitch to pinch hitter A.J. Pierzynski that resulted in an inning ending 3-2-3 double play.
Kevin Gregg made it interesting in the ninth with a two-out walk to Josh Fields but he struck out Scott Podsednik looking to end the game.
Friday afternoon on the South Side took a turn for the worse in the less-than-half-season-long soap opera of Milton Bradley. After flying out to left in the sixth, Milton Bradley threw his helmet, beat up a Gatorade machine and then had a heart-to-heart with Lou Piniella in the tunnel. Piniella asked Bradley to take off his uniform and to go home … the Cubs took the lead the following inning.
Piniella said following the game that he was tired of the actions Bradley displayed again on Friday. Piniella said he would explain further on Saturday but that Bradley would be in the lineup.
The Cubs evened their record at 35-35 on the year with a nice win on the South Side … their first at the Cell since 2007. Milton Bradley’s reputation has apparently followed him to Chicago. The Cubs brought him into produce and paid him a lot of money to do so … Bradley has not produced and Friday was a big example of how bad his signing has turned out to be. Less than a week after Lou Piniella told Bruce Levine that Bradley’s rapport in the clubhouse had improved, Milton had another meltdown that pushed his manager to the point he was sent home.
Bradley has been a disappointment and it is up to him to turn it around … or for the Cubs to cut their losses and make sure he does not reach the 75-game mark that would turn the third year of his contract from an option to a guarantee.
The job Randy Wells has done to this point of the season cannot be overlooked. Wells has given the Cubs another dependable arm … and who would have thought that when he was recalled to take Carlos Zambrano’s spot in the rotation.
The game was decided in the eighth inning. Carlos Marmol walked Gordon Beckham to start the inning. Scott Podsednik popped out to left but Alexei Ramirez walked on a 3-2 pitch. Jermaine Dye hit what appeared to be a routine pop out to shallow left but Alfonso Soriano got a late jump and ran into Andres Blanco. The ball fell to the ground and the White Sox loaded the bases, down by three with one out.
Jim Thome then lined a two-run double off Derrek Lee’s glove that trickled down the right field line and rolled into foul territory. Beckham and Ramirez scored and the Sox were down by only one with runners on second and third with one out.
Piniella had Marmol intentionally walk Paul Konerko then lifted Marmol after A.J. Pierzynski was announced. Sean Marshall threw one pitch and got two outs … Pierzynski hit a grounder to Lee, he threw home to Soto and covered first for the return throw. A rare 3-2-3 double play ended the inning.
The Cubs picked up a much-needed win but with the Milton Bradley cloud hanging over the win, Saturday could be very interesting.
Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Mark Buehrle on Saturday afternoon.