Game Seventy-Five – Cubs 4 Pirates 1
WP – Randy Wells (3-3) LP – Virgil Vasquez (1-1) Save – Kevin Gregg (14)
The Cubs rebounded from a horrible game on Tuesday night behind another tremendous effort by Randy Wells … and a refreshing performance by Sam Fuld. Lou Piniella’s crew picked up their first series win on the road since taking two of three from the Reds at the beginning of June (June 5 – June 7).
The real Lou Piniella finally showed up in the sixth inning. Piniella was ejected for the first time this season for arguing a close play at first base. With runners on first and second with two outs, Randy Wells hit a bouncer back to Virgil Vasquez. The Pirates’ pitcher bobbled the ball then threw a strike to Adam LaRoche at first. Wells appeared to beat the throw but was called out by first base umpire Chad Fairchild.
Lou Piniella ran out from the dugout, got into the umpires face, took off his cap and held it momentarily before slamming it to the ground. Fairchild ejected Piniella immediately and the Cubs’ manager continued to argue his case. The fire that had been missing from Piniella was on display for the first time since July of last season.
Sam Fuld started the game in left for Alfonso Soriano and made an impact on the game’s first pitch. Fuld ripped a double to right, his first big league hit, to start the game and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Theriot. Derrek Lee followed with his 12th home run of the year ro right center and gave Randy Wells all the runs he would need.
Not only did Sam Fuld reach base in three of his five trips to the plate (2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a walk), he kept the tying run from scoring in the fifth inning. Up by a score of 2-1 and Pirates on first and second with two outs, Freddy Sanchez lined a single to left. Sam Fuld put himself into perfect position and threw a one-hop strike to Geovany Soto to cut down Jack Wilson at the plate, his second career outfield assist.
Fuld many several fine catches in left and took routes to balls that kept the Pirates from taking extra bases on singles to left center … and to complete the night, Fuld caught the game’s last three outs.
Randy Wells put together another quality start (eighth in ten games) and won his third game in a row. Wells completed seven strong innings for the fifth time in 10 starts and surrendered only one run on six hits in seven innings … with a walk and four strikeouts on 97 pitches, 66 for strikes. Wells continued to keep the ball down and 12 of the 16 outs on balls put in play were on the ground.
Kosuke Fukudome turned in a 2-for-4 performance that included a double and his first home run since May 26. Fukudome’s solo shot that just cleared the wall in the sixth gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
The Cubs defense made several highlight reel plays on Wednesday night behind Randy Wells. Andres Blanco continued to prove his worth in the field and Kosuke Fukudome added a fine diving catch in center … and while it might not be textbook plays, Jake Fox continued to be more than serviceable at third base.
The Cubs finished their 10-game, four city road trip with a disappointing 3-7 record but have shown signs they could be more than just a .500 team … Randy Wells continued to impress on Wednesday night. The young right-hander, in just his tenth big league start, showed the same composure and confidence that he has since being recalled in May. Wells struggled a little in the first inning, gave up his only run and Sam Fuld kept the Pirates from tying the game but he continued to attack hitters on Wednesday night.
Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the first with a double down the left field line. Wells retired Freddy Sanchez on a tapper back to the mound. Andres Blanco made a great play on a weak grounder hit by Garrett Jones for the second out of the inning. Wells walked Adam LaRoche on four pitches … with two outs.
Brandon Moss followed with a single to center on a 1-2 pitch that plated McCutchen with the Pirates only run of the night. With runners on first and second up by only one, Wells struck out Ramon Vazquez to end the inning.
Wells faced the minimum in the second after Jack Wilson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play … then he settled down. Wells retired the Pirates in order in third on three groundball outs. The Pirates went in order once again in the fourth before the fifth ended on the great play by Sam Fuld.
Jason Jaramillo led off the fifth inning with a single to left center. Jack Wilson grounded into a 5-4 fielder’s choice. With Wilson at first, Virgil Vasquez struck out on a fouled bunt attempt. Andrew McCutchen followed with his second hit of the game … a single to center on a 3-2 pitch. Freddy Sanchez then lined a single to left on a 1-1 pitch … and Wilson was gunned out at the plate by Sam Fuld to end the inning.
Geovany Soto did a fine job of blocking the plate and the replays showed that Fuld put all he had into the throw … Fuld ended up on his back and his perfect throw preserved the Cubs 2-1 lead.
Randy Wells retired the last six batters he faced to complete his night.
After hitting pinch-hitter Delwyn Young on a 1-2 pitch, Carlos Marmol retired the next three batters he faced with two strikeouts. Young was the seventh batter Marmol has hit this season.
Kevin Gregg put together an uneventful ninth inning … three up, three down with all three fly outs to Sam Fuld.
The Cubs offense pounded out 10 hits and struggled with runners in scoring position. They finished the night 3-for-10 and left eight on base. In two different innings the Cubs left runners on second and third with less than two outs and failed to plate a single run.
The Cubs first three runs were scored off home runs … Derrek Lee’s two-run shot to right center in the first and Kosuke Fukudome’s solo home run in the sixth.
The Cubs fourth run was plated in the eighth after a leadoff walk by Milton Bradley. Jake Fox reached on an error by Jack Wilson. Fox hit a grounder to the hole at short. Wilson made a fine diving stop but threw low to Freddy Sanchez. With runners on first and second with no outs, Kosuke Fukudome hit a deep fly out to the track in right … Fukudome just missed it and his productive out advanced Bradley to third. Geovany Soto singled to left on a 1-1 pitch (his fifth hit of the series) and drove in Milton Bradley.
The Cubs won a game they had to win on Wednesday night … with huge contributions from two players that did not figure into the Cubs’ plans when the season began.
The Cubs open an important four-game series with the Brewers on Thursday night at Wrigley … Ryan Dempster against Seth McClung.