Game Ninety-Nine – Cubs 12 Astros 0
WP – Randy Wells (7-4) LP – Mike Hampton (6-8) Save – None
While the Cubs’ offense will garner most of the attention from Wednesday afternoon’s pounding of the Astros, Randy Wells deserves a majority of the credit. Wells stepped up when his team needed it the most and tossed eight innings of shutout ball … and a combined shutout of the Astros with Mitch Atkins, in his Major League debut, a day after Houston put an 11-spot on the board.
Randy Wells allowed six hits, all singles, and did not allow a runner past first base until the eighth inning. Wells struck out one, walked two and recorded 17 ground ball outs while the Cubs defense turned three double plays behind him … a total of four on the afternoon.
The Cubs offense jumped all over Mike Hampton in the first inning. They sent ten to the plate and scored six runs … with the big hit coming off the bat of Alfonso Soriano. Soriano’s 19th homer of the year, a three-run shot to left, gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
Aramis Ramirez launched his ninth longball of the year onto Waveland in the second inning of Mike Hampton … the seventh game in a row Ramirez has recorded at least one extra base hit.
The game was basically over after the opening inning. The Cubs tacked on two more in the fourth inning after a Derrek Lee windblown double and a RBI single by Milton Bradley. With a nine run lead Randy Wells went into cruise control.
The Cubs offense pounded out 14 hits, seven went for extra bases including three home runs. Andres Blanco hit his first big league home run in the eighth off of Doug Brocail.
Randy Wells posted his seventh win on the year, the most for a Cubs’ rookie since Kerry Wood won 13 in 1998. Wood finished the year 13-6.
The Cubs shutout of the Astros did come at a cost. Reed Johnson fouled a ball off his foot in his first at bat. Johnson eventually left in the fourth with what was originally diagnosed as a bruise on his left foot. X-rays following the game revealed a fracture in his left foot and Johnson will miss at least a month.
The Cubs improved to 11-0 in July when they collect 10 or more hits and with the victory improved to a season-high seven games over .500 for the third time this season … The assertion of Randy Wells has given stability to a starting staff that has dealt with injuries all season. Wells might be a rookie, but he seldom pitches like one. Wells retired the Astros in order in the first inning, then turned it over to the offense.
Reed Johnson led off the first with a single to right. Ryan Theriot followed with a double down the left field line. Derrek Lee knocked in Johnson with a sac fly to right center. Hunter Pence threw home and Theriot took advantage of the miscue. Theriot advanced to third and scored on a single to left by Aramis Ramirez. Milton Bradley walked with the Cubs up 2-0.
Alfonso Soriano stepped in and ripped the first pitch from Mike Hampton over the wall in left. The Cubs took a 5-0 lead and kept tacking on.
Jeff Baker walked on four pitches and advanced to second on a wild pitch from Hampton. Koyie Hill followed with a single to center, Baker scored … 6-0 Cubs. Randy Wells sacrificed Hill to second but Reed Johnson flied out to center for the final out of the inning.
Aramis Ramirez hit his ninth homer of the year with two outs in the second, then Mike Hampton sat the Cubs down in order in the third.
Ryan Theriot worked a two out walk in the fourth. Derrek Lee followed with a wind blown double to right. The ball appeared foul off the bat but the wind got a hold of it and Theriot scored all the way from first.
Cecil Cooper intentionally walked Ramirez to face Milton Bradley. Bradley came through and delivered a single to center on a 0-1 pitch from Mike Hampton. Derrek Lee scored, 9-0 Cubs.
Milton Bradley (2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a RBI) led off the seventh with a single to center. Bradley advanced to second on an error by Michael Bourn. With Jake Fox at the plate, rookie Bud Norris uncorked a wild pitch. Bradley advanced to third and scored on a fly out to right by Jake Fox.
Jeff Baker reached on a ground rule double following the Fox sacrifice fly and Koyie Hill singled to center. Baker held at third. Randy Wells fouled out and Kosuke Fukudome struck out swinging to end the inning.
Andres Blanco ripped a 2-0 pitch from Doug Brocail down the line in right just over the wall to start the eighth … his first career Major League homer. Micah Hoffpauir followed with a triple to right. Mike Fontenot walked and Milton Bradley lined out to Carlos Lee at first. Jake Fox delivered his second RBI, a single to center on Brocail’s first pitch. Hoffpauir scored, 12-0 Cubs.
Lou Piniella’s crew did a good job of bouncing back from Tuesday night’s loss … thanks to Randy Wells and a lot of offense.
Kevin Hart is slated to face Russ Ortiz on Thursday afternoon in the finale … weather permitting.