Game One Hundred Thirty-Six – Cubs 5 Mets 3
WP – Carlos Zambrano (7-6) LP – Jenrry Mejia (0-3) Save – Carlos Marmol (27)
The Cubs improved to 8-3 under Mike Quade with their fourth win of the homestand Saturday (4-1). The Northsiders have played better ball with more energy over the last 11 games. The Cubs are more aggressive on the bases but more importantly Q has received production from the middle of his lineup.
The Cubs offense did just enough Saturday. Two of the five runs scored with two outs. Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, Xavier Nady and Geovany Soto drove in runs but Saturday was all about Carlos Zambrano.
Carlos Zambrano was wild early on but two doubles plays in the first two innings got him out of early trouble. Blake DeWitt and Starlin Castro turned a slick 4-6-3 twin killing in the first … then Castro flipped to DeWitt to start the 6-4-3 to end in the second.
Starlin Castro’s defense and indecision cost Zambrano a run in the fourth. The Mets executed a double steal on a 3-2 pitch to Lucas Duda that Castro could not decide whether he wanted to throw to the plate or tag Carlos Beltran.
Z settled down and allowed only one run on three hits in the first six innings. The Mets’ fourth hit did not come until the seventh … a solo shot off the bat of Ike Davis.
Zambrano put together another strong start and improved to 4-0 since returning to the rotation. Z allowed two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts on 102 pitches, 63 for strikes. With his eight strikeouts on Saturday, Zambrano jumped over Kerry Wood for third All-Time on the Cubs’ strikeout list.
Carlos Zambrano struck out a pair in the fifth … Jenrry Mejia on a failed bunt attempt tied him with Kerry Wood for third on the Cubs’ All-Time strikeout list. Zambrano then struck out the next hitter, Angel Pagan, on a ball in the dirt. The 1,408th strikeout of Zambrano’s career was good for sole possession of third on the Cubs’ All-Time strikeout list behind Ferguson Jenkins (2038) and Charlie Root (1432).
Carlos Marmol was nasty in the ninth. Marmol gave up a one-out single to Ike Davis but struck out the side looking … with no walks. Marmol earned his 27th save in dominating fashion. With his three k’s on Saturday, Marmol has struck out 118 batters in 65 1/3 innings (64 games).
Starlin Castro recorded his sixth straight multi-hit game. Castro raised his average to .321 with a 2-for-4 afternoon that included a run scored, a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 21st homer of the year in the seventh and finished the game 2-for-5. Marlon Byrd was in the middle of the action again. Byrd doubled and singled in four trips to the plate with RBI and a run scored … on a wild pitch third strike to Tyler Colvin.
Four different Cubs drove in runs and Geovany Soto’s two-out double in the second plated Xavier Nady with the first run of the game. The offense scored in four of the first seven innings and pounded out 12 hits but still finished the game 3-for-13 with RISP and left 12 on base.
The Cubs improved to 59-77 on the season … 18 games below the mediocre mark. The Cubs got on board in the second following their first hit off of Jenrry Mejia. Xavier Nady singled into center and advanced to second on a weak chopper to second by Tyler Colvin. Geovany Soto ripped a 1-0 pitch from Mejia down the third base line for a double. Nady scored on Soto’s two-out RBI … 1-0 Cubs.
Mejia intentionally walked Blake DeWitt to bring up Carlos Zambrano with two on and two out. Luis Castillo took a RBI away from Z with a diving stop on a ball ticketed for center. Castillo threw from his knees but the always-hustling Zambrano stretched and beat out the throw. With the bags full and two out, Fukudome swung at the first pitch … and grounded out weakly to second.
Z sat down the Mets in order in the top of the third on just eight pitches.
Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out bloop single in the third. Aramis Ramirez followed with a double off the base of the wall in left center. With runners on second and third with one out, Xavier Nady hit a deep fly to left on a 1-2 pitch. Byrd tagged and scored … 2-0 Cubs.
After a wild pitch advanced Ramirez to third, Tyler Colvin grounded out to third to end the inning.
Zambrano’s wildness and Castro’s inexperience cost the Cubs a run in the top of the fourth.
Luis Castillo walked to start the inning and advanced to third on a single to right by Carlos Beltran. David Wright popped out to shallow right on a 3-0 pitch. Lucas Duda worked the count to 3-2 before striking out swinging. Beltran ran on the 3-2 pitch and Soto threw a perfect strike to Castro … but Starlin saw Castillo breaking for the plate and caught the ball in front of the bag. Castro appeared to be thinking about throwing home before lunging back and attempting to tag Beltran. Castro missed and Castillo was credited with a steal of home … 2-1 Cubs.
Starlin Castro started the offense once again in the fifth. Castro reached on a single to right center and stole second with Byrd at the plate. Byrd doubled into the right field corner and plated with Castro with the Cubs third run.
Aramis Ramirez popped out to second and Nady flied out to shallow right … but the always-hustling Marlon Byrd tagged and advanced to third. Byrd’s fundamentals would lead to a run.
Tyler Colvin struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. The ball got under the legs of rookie catcher Mike Nickeas. The ball hit the bricks, Colvin reached first and Byrd scored … 4-1 Cubs.
Geovany Soto walked but DeWitt flied out to left center to end the inning.
Ike Davis’ 16th homer of the season, a solo shot on a 0-1 pitch from Zambrano, cut the Cubs lead to 4-2 in the seventh … just the fourth hit of the day for the Mets.
Aramis Ramirez gave Zambrano his three-run lead right back in the bottom of the seventh. Ramirez launched his 21st longball of the year to center on a 2-2 pitch from Elmer Dessens.
A two-out walk in the eighth cost the Cubs a run. Andrew Cashner walked Luis Castillo on five pitches then fell behind Carlos Beltran 2-0. Beltran ripped Cashner’s next pitch to deep center that Marlon Byrd lost in the sun. Byrd turned every way possible, but the right one, and could not make the catch against the ivy. Castillo scored … 5-3 Cubs.
Byrd has caught that type of fly countless times this season but the bottom line is Cashner cannot issue a five-pitch walk with two outs.
David Wright flied out to right to end the eighth inning.
Jeff Baker hit for Andrew Cashner and walked to start the bottom of the eighth. Fukudome blooped a single into left center off the southpaw Pedro Feliciano. Jerry Manuel went to his pen for Bobby Parnell.
Starlin Castro dropped down a perfect sac bunt to first. Baker and Fukudome advanced and Manuel intentionally walked Marlon Byrd to load the bases with one out.
Manuel’s gamble paid off … Ramirez struck out on a 3-2 fastball that registered 100 MPH on the gun then Parnell struck out Xavier Nady on a ball in the dirt to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol took care of the Mets in the ninth with three punchouts.
It’s always a good day when the Cubs beat the Mets … again, just ask Ron Santo.
Ryan Dempster will face Jon Niese in the series and season finale against the Mets on Sunday.