Game Seventy-Nine – Cubs 8 Brewers 2
WP – Ted Lilly (8-6) LP – Mike Burns (1-2) Save – None
The Cubs took care of business against the Brewers on Sunday and won their second series in a row. Ted Lilly proved why he will be representing the Cubs in the Mid Summer Classic next week in St. Louis. The Cubs improved to 11-6 in Lilly’s outings as he dominated the Brewers with another quality start. Lilly earned his first victory since June 9 against the Astros … the 99th win of Lilly’s big league career.
While Lilly was busy mowing down the Brewers offense, the Cubs offense performed to expectations against former Cub farmhand Mike Burns. Derrek Lee pounded his 15th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the first that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Jake Fox added his fourth home run in his last 11 games, a two-run bomb in the fifth that ended up on Waveland. Fox finished the afternoon 2-for-4 with a double (his sixth), a home run (his fourth), two runs scored and two RBI.
Kosuke Fukudome jump-started the Cubs offense with a triple to start the game on the first pitch from Mike Burns. Fukudome put together one of his better games in the last few weeks, offensively. Fukudome was 2-for-4 with a double, a sacrifice fly, two runs scored and a RBI. Fukudome and Ryan Theriot were a combined 4-for-9 with three runs scored and a RBI … the top of the Cubs lineup really set the stage.
Milton Bradley continued to show improvement on Sunday. While his 1-for-3 effort with a walk and a run scored does not jump off the page, it was his leadoff walk in the fourth that led to the two-run inning. The Cubs were up by a slim one-run margin (2-1) before Bradley walked, advanced to third on Jake Fox’s double and scored on Geovany Soto’s sacrifice fly.
The Cubs hit with runners in scoring position on Sunday and even manufactured a run in the sixth. They finished the afternoon 5-for-9 with two sacrifice flies … Mike Fontenot delivered a huge two-out RBI single to center that capped the scoring in the fourth inning.
Lou Piniella’s crew did what they had to this weekend against the Brewers. A split in the four-game series would not have helped and they knew winning the series was key to a strong finish to the first half. The Cubs won for the eighth time out of ten games at Wrigley … and after hitting a season-low last Sunday on the South Side, finished the week with a 5-2 record. The Cubs climbed a game over .500 once again this season. Ted Lilly notched his eighth win … but Lilly’s record could easily be four or five wins better than the 8-6. Lilly has been on the wrong end of three shutouts and has given up more than three runs once in his last eight starts with only three wins to show for his effort.
‘The Bulldog‘ appeared to be struggling with his command in the first inning. Corey Hart led off the game with a single to left on a 0-2 pitch. Lilly went right after J.J. Hardy and for some reason Hart attempted to steal second. Geovany Soto gunned him out and Lilly struck out Hardy on the next pitch … Lilly went from runner on first and no outs to two down on two pitches. The Brewers really helped him out …
After Hart’s baserunning gaffe, Lilly worked around a two-out single by Mike Cameron in the second and disposed of the Brewers rather quickly in the third.
Lilly’s only mistake came in the fourth with two outs and on a 1-2 pitch to Prince Fielder. The Brewers’ first baseman hit a low liner that ended up just over the basket in straight away center. Casey McGehee, who had a great series, followed with a long single over Alfonso Soriano’s head in left. Lilly struck out Mike Cameron looking to end the inning.
Following McGehee’s single, Lilly sat down six in a row. He struck out the side in the fifth and at one point five of the seven outs Lilly recorded were strikeouts.
Ryan Braun reached on a two-out single to left in the sixth. Prince Fielder followed with a single to right, Braun advanced to third and scored on McGehee’s single to left … it was his sixth RBI of the series. With runners on first and second with two outs, Mike Cameron swung at a 1-2 offering from Lilly … and missed to end the inning.
The Brewers tried to get back into the game in the seventh. Down by a score of 8-2, Jason Kendall reached on a bloop double to right. Bill Hall struck out, Lilly’s ninth but pinch-hitter Mat Gamel singled to left and chased Lilly from the game.
Aaron Heilman came in and induced an inning ending double play (6-4-3) off the bat of Corey Hart on a 0-1 pitch … Andres Blanco made a great turn following the stop in the hole by Ryan Theriot.
Ted Lilly’s line: two runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks
Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless eighth and Carlos Marmol retired the Brewers in order in the ninth with two strikeouts to end the game.
Kosuke Fukudome appears to be the Cubs’ new leadoff hitter for the immediate future against right-handed starters. Kosuke did his job on Sunday and must continue to provide the Cubs with a solid bat at the top of the lineup. Fukudome led off the game with a triple and was on board for Derrek Lee’s second home run of the series.
After going down in order in the third, Milton Bradley led off the fourth with a walk … after an impressive at bat. Jake Fox doubled to left on a 1-1 pitch, his sixth of the year. With the infield back, Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with two left on base) popped out to shallow left. Bradley and Fox could not advance.
On a 0-1 pitch from Mike Burns, Geovany Soto flied out to deep center. Bradley tagged and scored while Fox moved up ninety feet. The Brewers then decided to pitch to Mike Fontenot with two outs and Ted Lilly on deck. Fontenot lined a single into center on a 1-1 pitch and plated Fox with the Cubs fourth run of the game.
Kosuke Fukudome led off the fifth with a single to center on a 0-2 pitch. Lou Piniella called for the hit and run and Theriot delivered a bloop single into right. Kosuke advanced to third on the play. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left on the first pitch … just past a diving J.J. Hardy. Kosuke scored.
With Bradley at the plate, Mike Burns uncorked a wild pitch. Theriot advanced to third but Jason Kendall threw out Derrek Lee at second. Bradley eventually struck out looking for the second out of the inning.
Jake Fox stepped in and launched a 1-0 pitch from Mike Burns onto Waveland Avenue … 7-1 Cubs.
The Cubs final run came in the sixth after Mike Fontenot led off the inning with a double to left off of southpaw Chris Narveson. Ted Lilly sacrificed him to third and Kosuke Fukudome drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center on the lefties first pitch.
Sunday was a solid, convincing win against the type of starting pitcher they should handle game in and game out.
The Cubs welcome the Braves to Wrigley for the first of three on Monday night. Randy Wells will face Jair Jurrjens.