Game One Hundred Twenty-Two – Cubs 3 Dodgers 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (7-7) LP – Chad Billingsley (12-7) Save – Carlos Marmol (5)
The Cubs avoided the sweep in L.A. on Sunday behind Ryan Dempster’s best outing on the road this season … and a career day at the plate by Jake Fox. Dempster picked up his third win of the year away from Wrigley and his second of the season against Dodgers. Dempster allowed one unearned run in seven-plus innings on three hits. Dempster surrendered just one hit after the third inning while not allowing a free pass until the eighth inning, a leadoff walk to Russell Martin.
John Grabow took over for Dempster in the eighth and pitched his way out of a huge jam … thanks to a gift call at second base and a mulligan on a pop up into shallow center that Ryan Theriot dropped. Grabow induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Orlando Hudson to end the threat.
Carlos Marmol picked up his first save since being named the team’s closer. Marmol retired the top of the Dodgers lineup in order, a rarity this season for the Cubs in the ninth inning. Marmol struck out Andre Ethier on a 3-2 pitch and Manny Ramirez swinging on four pitches to end the game … one of Marmol’s better outings in quite some time.
Jake Fox got his first start of the series and delivered a 4-for-4 afternoon at the plate that included his ninth homer of the season, and a RBI single in the sixth that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Fox hit the first home run allowed in six starts by Chad Billingsley in the second inning for the Cubs’ first run of the game.
Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a Manny Ramirez aided triple. Kosuke Fukudome doubled in Ramirez for the eventual game winner. The Cubs’ offense on the afternoon was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.
The Cubs finished the seven-game West Coast trip with a 2-5 record. With Sunday’s win they will spend their day off on Monday in Chicago two games over .500 on the season (62-60) and they kept pace with the St. Louis Cardinals in the division race, eight games back. On Sunday afternoon in Dodger Stadium, Lou Piniella’s crew played like many thought they would during the season. Timely hitting against one of the best starters in the National League, excellent starting pitching, solid defense (with the exception on one play) and Carlos Marmol dominating at the end of the game. While the Cubs left a lot of men on base, that is to be expected against a better than average starting pitcher.
The Cubs came out swinging against Chad Billingsley on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Theriot (2-for-5) led off with a single and Sam Fuld (1-for-5) singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. Derrek Lee ripped the ball to the hole at short but Furcal turned it into a 6-4-3 double play. Aramis Ramirez popped out to right to end the inning.
Jake Fox powered the team a much needed lead with one-out in the second. Fox was very patient, worked the count to 3-2 then launched Chad Billingsley’s next offering over the wall in left center … 1-0 Cubs.
The Dodgers tied the game at one in the bottom of the inning. Matt Kemp reached on a throwing error by Aramis Ramirez. Kemp ended up at second and scored on a one-out single to center by Tony Abreu … his first RBI of the season.
Ryan Dempster struck out Mark Loretta on a 3-2 pitch and Koyie Hill threw out Tony Abreu at second to end the inning … strike ’em out, throw ’em out.
The Dodgers managed one more hit for the remainder of the game off of Ryan Dempster … a pinch-hit single to center by Juan Pierre to start the sixth inning.
Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth with a triple to left. Manny was being Manny and it cost his team a game. Ramirez misplayed the ball in the corner, it got away from him and rolled back toward left center. Aramis made it all the way to third by the time Manny got the ball back in … the first triple of the year by Aramis Ramirez.
Kosuke Fukudome followed with his team-leading 28th double of the year down the right field line. Ramirez scored easily, 2-1 Cubs. Billingsley quickly got ahead of Jake Fox, 0-2 but Fox ended up singling to center, 3-1 Cubs.
The eighth inning was an adventure to say the least. After Jake Fox recorded his fourth hit in the top of the inning and Aramis Ramirez was called out at third trying to go from first to third on the single to left (replays showed Aramis was safe despite the fact the ball beat him to the bag), the Cubs were unable to tack onto their lead. Ryan Dempster took the hill to start the bottom of the inning … and walked Russell Martin, Dempster’s first free pass of the game.
Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in John Grabow to face Tony Abreu … along with Milton Bradley in right, shifting Fukudome to center and Fuld to left.
Grabow walked Abreu, then ran the count to 3-2 on Mark Loretta. Loretta hit a grounder to the hole at short on the next pitch. Theriot made a good stop and threw to Fontenot at second. Abreu was called out but replays showed Fontenot’s foot was off the bag … the Cubs got the neighborhood call and a caught a break.
With runners on first and third, one out and the Cubs up 3-1, Orlando Hudson popped up a 1-0 pitch from Grabow into shallow center. Ryan Theriot went out to make the catch but lost the ball, it fell to the ground and it appeared Martin would score and make it a 3-2 game. But the Dodgers called time and Wally Bell granted it as Grabow was throwing the pitch. The Cubs caught a break … Hudson eventually grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.
The Cubs ended a frustrating week on the left coast with a positive win.
After their first day off since August 6 (and their first in Chicago since July 23) on Monday, the Cubs open a 10-game homestand with the first of three against the Washington Nationals. Carlos Zambrano is expected to be activated from the DL and face Garrett Mock in the opener on Tuesday night.