Game Nine – Cubs (ss) 6 White Sox (ss) 5
WP – Mitch Atkins (1-0) LP – Jhonny Nunez (0-1, BS 1) Save – Blake Parker (1)
The Cubs took an early lead in the first of two against the Sox in Vegas. Marlon Byrd and Mike Fontenot drove in the first two runs of the game in the first inning. Tom Gorzelanny did not allow a hit in his three innings of work. But Gorzelanny walked the bases loaded in the second and his wild pitch allowed the White Sox to score a run.
Jay Jackson surrendered the White Sox first hit in the sixth before giving up the lead. The Sox scored three runs off of Jackson and took a 4-3 lead into the seventh.
Marlon Byrd reached on an error by Brent Lillibridge to start the seventh. Brett Jackson pinch ran for Byrd and advanced to second when Kevin Millar walked. Micah Hoffpauir took over for Millar on the bases.
Josh Vitters ripped a 1-1 pitch from Jhonny Nunez into right center. The ball rolled to the wall. Jackson and Hoffpauir scored on Vitters’ triple. Mike Fontenot drove in his second run of the night with a single to center … and gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead.
The Sox cut the Cubs’ lead to 6-5 in the eighth with a single to right by Alejandro De Aza. De Aza took too wide of a turn at first, Kyler Burke threw behind him and Micah Hoffpauir tagged him out to end the inning … with the tying run at third.
Blake Parker labored through a 28-pitch ninth inning (14 strikes) to pick up the save.
Several of the Cubs’ top prospects contributed to the win on Friday night. The Cubs improved to 5-4 on the spring with the victory over the White Sox … Ryan Theriot (1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and two stolen bases) led off the game with a bunt single. Theriot advanced to second on Mark Teahen’s throwing error. Kosuke Fukudome grounded out to second, Theriot advanced to third and scored on a single to center by Marlon Byrd.
Following a Kevin Millar walk and a strikeout by Xavier Nady, Mike Fontenot singled in Byrd for the Cubs second run. Geovany Soto singled to center but Andruw Jones threw out Millar at the plate to end the inning.
Mike Fontenot reached on a two-out single in the third. Soto followed with his second hit of the game, a single to left center. With runners on first and third with two outs, Jeff Baker plated Fontenot with a single to right.
Tom Gorzelanny put together a decent outing on Friday night. Gorzelanny retired the Sox in order in the first but had command problems in the second.
Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay walked to start the inning. Gorzelanny struck out Mark Teahen swinging. Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases with one out. Alejandro De Aza struck out looking for the second out.
With Jayson Nix at the plate, Gorzelanny uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Jones to score from third. Gorzelanny refocused and struck out Nix looking to end the inning.
Gorzelanny walked three, struck out three and allowed a run without a hit in the second.
Tom Gorzelanny retired the Sox in order in the third to finish his night … one run on no hits with three walks and four strikeouts in three innings.
Thomas Diamond took over in the fourth. While he was not dominant he was effective. Diamond walked a batter and struck out a batter in his two innings on Friday night. Diamond threw strikes.
The Sox did not manage a hit through the first five innings.
Jay Jackson took over in the sixth and struggled. Jackson showed, at times, why the Cubs are so high on him but he gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning.
Omar Vizquel singled to center to start the inning. Jeff Baker robbed Paul Konerko of a hit down the third base line with a great diving stop. Vizquel advanced to second … and then to third on an infield single by Kenny Williams, Jr.
Jackson walked Mark Kotsay to load the bases with one out.
Mark Teahen drove in the Sox second run with a single to left. With the bases loaded, Donny Lucy hit a weak grounder to second. Fontenot tossed to Theriot but the ball was not hit hard enough to turn two … Kenny Williams, Jr. scored and tied the game at three.
Alan Trammell lifted Jackson for Mitch Atkins.
Alejandro De Aza singled to right center and plated Kotsay with the go ahead run. Atkins struck out Jayson Nix for the final out.
After the Cubs took the lead in the top of the seventh, Hung-Wen Chen replaced Atkins on the mound in the home half of the seventh.
Chen was effective but Brett Jackson kept the White Sox from mounting another comeback. C.J. Retherford hit a double high off the wall in left … just out of reach of Sam Fuld. Jackson picked up the ball and threw a strike to Ryan Flaherty at third. Flaherty tagged out Rutherford trying to turn a double into a triple.
Blake Parker struggled with his command in the ninth before finding a pretty impressive changeup. Parker got the job done.
The Cubs brought several of the top prospects in the organization with them to Las Vegas. D.J. LeMahieu, Kyler Burke, Ryan Flaherty and Jay Jackson from minor league camp … while Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, both non-roster invitees, figured heavily in the Cubs win on Friday night.
Saturday is another split-squad day for the Cubs. Lou Piniella’s crew will face Dusty Baker and the Reds at HoHoKam Park, Sean Marshall versus Homer Bailey. While Alan Trammell will manage a group led by Ryan Dempster in Las Vegas.