Game Seventy-Two – Cubs 6 White Sox 3
WP – Carlos Zambrano (6-4) LP – Gavin Floyd (6-7) Save – Carlos Marmol (15)
Four batters into the game the Cubs trailed 3-0 and it looked like it was going to be another one of those nights for the Chicago Cubs. But after the first inning Carlos Zambrano settled down and was as good as he’s been all season. Z allowed three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts in eight innings. Zambrano threw 115 pitches, 73 for strikes, and finished his night by tossing seven innings of shutout ball. Zambrano gave his offense a chance to make a comeback … and they did not disappoint the Big Z.
Starlin Castro drove in the Cubs first three runs of the game with a two-out single in the third then tied the game with a leadoff homer in the sixth … his first dinger since April 16. Castro finished the game 2-for-4 with a stolen base, a home run and three RBI.
Carlos Pena broke the 3-3 tie with a big fly three batters after Castro tied the game. Pena’s 12th off the season gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead.
Kosuke Fukudome was 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored Monday night but it was his two-out walk in the third that seemed to change the momentum of the game. Gavin Floyd had allowed only one hit to that point and seemed to be in full control. Fukudome worked the walk to give Castro a chance to put a dent into the White Sox 3-0 lead.
Carlos Pena, Kosuke Fukudome, D.J. LeMahieu and Starlin Castro made excellent plays in the field that kept the White Sox from tacking on early and making a comeback late.
Homeplate umpire, James Hoye, ejected Ozzie Guillen from the game in the bottom of the sixth. Alexei Ramirez hit a tapper in front of the plate that hit on the dirt and rolled back on the dish. Geovany Soto picked the ball up and tagged Ramirez for the second out of the inning. Guillen showed Hoye where the ball hit, was ejected then kicked Geovany Soto’s mask the same way Lou Piniella used to kick his own hat.
Monday night was truly a team win for the Chicago Cubs and probably their best all around game of the season. The Cubs were patient at the plate, played excellent defense and let the other team create the drama on the field.
The Cubs won for the 30th time this season and improved to 30-42 on the year, 12 games below .500 … After the Cubs went quickly and quietly to start the game (1-2-3 on 10 pitches), the Sox came out swinging against Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the third … and four batters into the game, the Cubs found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
Juan Pierre led off with a single to right on a 0-2 pitch. Ozzie called for a hit and run on a 0-1 pitch to Omar Vizquel, the veteran infielder put the ball in play and advanced Pierre to second (Vizquel grounded out to second). Carlos Quentin then hit a q-shot off the end of his bat down the right field line. Pierre scored … 1-0 White Sox.
Paul Konerko stepped in and launched a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left … and just like that it was 3-0 White Sox.
Z struck out Adam Dunn swinging on a 3-2 pitch and retired Alexei Ramirez on a fly out to right. Z threw 21 pitches in the first, 16 for strikes.
The Cubs went down in order in the top of the second and Z worked around a leadoff single by A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the second.
Geovany Soto led off the top of the third with the Cubs first hit of the game. D.J. LeMahieu struck out swinging. Campana tried to bunt for a hit but it went as a sacrifice and Soto advanced to second. Kosuke Fukudome worked a two out walk … and set the table for Starlin Castro.
Gavin Floyd uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-1 offering to Castro. Both runners advanced and Floyd’s next pitch ended up in center … Soto and Fukudome scored, 3-2 White Sox. With Blake DeWitt at the plate, Castro stole second on a pitch out. Castro improved to 9-for-9 in stolen bases this season. DeWitt flied out to center to end the inning.
Zambrano settled down after the second and threw strikes. Z worked around a two-out walk to Paul Konerko in the third by striking out Adam Dunn looking to end the inning. Zambrano faced the minimum in the fourth after Alex Rios grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. D.J. LeMahieu made a nice turn on the DP and after four Z had thrown 67 pitches, 43 for strikes.
The Sox threatened in the bottom of the fifth … but Zambrano was able to wiggle his way out of a big jam.
Mark Teahen led off the fifth with a single to left. Ozzie called for a hit and run on a 1-0 pitch to Pierre. Pierre grounded out to short but Teahen advanced to second on the play. Omar Vizquel singled to center on a 0-1 pitch. Campana charged the ball and made a strong throw to the plate. Teahen held and the Sox had runners on first and third with one out … and the big bats due up.
Carlos Quentin hit a 0-1 pitch into right. Kosuke put himself into position to make a strong throw to the plate. Fukudome threw a strike, Teahen held and Konerko strolled to the plate with two on and two out.
Carlos Zambrano struck out Konerko swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the fifth.
Starlin Castro led off the sixth and launched a 1-2 pitch into the stands in left. Castro’s second longball of the year tied the game at three … it was Castro’s first dinger since April 16 in Denver.
Blake DeWitt followed with a single to center … and Aramis Ramirez worked a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Carlos Pena fell behind Floyd 1-2 before working the count to 3-2. Pena launched Floyd’s next pitch into the stands in right center. Pena’s three-run shot, 12th of the year, gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead. Pena ended Floyd’s night in a big way.
Ozzie went to the pen and brought in Brian Bruney to get out of the sixth.
Bruney retired Soriano, Soto and LeMahieu on five pitches to end the sixth.
Carlos Zambrano struck out Adam Dunn to start the bottom of the sixth. Alexei Ramirez then hit a 1-2 pitch in front of the plate. The ball hit and rolled back on homeplate, but never left the dish. Soto picked up the ball and tagged out Ramirez for the second out.
Ozzie Guillen ran out, showed the homeplate umpire, James Hoye, where the ball hit. Guillen was ejected, then kicked Geo’s mask. Guillen got his money worth.
A.J. Pierzynski popped out to short … and Z retired the Sox in order for the first time. After six, Big Z had thrown 91 pitches, 60 for strikes.
Carlos Zambrano worked around a one-out walk to Mark Teahen in the seventh with a little help from Carlos Pena and Starlin Castro. Pena took away extra bases from Pierre with an excellent stop on a ball ticketed for the right field corner. Pena saved a run and likely a triple. Starlin Castro then took away a hit from Omar Vizquel on a ball that appeared well on its way to centerfield.
The Cubs did nothing against Will Ohman in the top of the eighth.
Zambrano finished his night by retiring Carlos Quentin (ground out to short), Paul Konerko (struck out swinging) and Adam Dunn (fly out to track in right) in order in the eighth.
Z left after allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts in eight strong innings. Zambrano threw 115 pitches, 72 for strikes on Monday night.
The Cubs had a chance to tack on in the ninth against Lucas Harrell. Soriano led off with a single to center but Soto and LeMahieu both struck out looking. Tony Campana singled to left. Joey Cora went to the pen and brought in Chris Sale to face Fukudome. Kosuke struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch … and the Cubs took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
As Pat Hughes always says, “Time to fasten those seatbelts …”
Carlos Marmol fell behind Alexei Ramirez 3-0 before eventually retiring him on a grounder to the hole at short on a 3-2 pitch. Castro made a nice pick and showed off his strong arm for the first out of the inning.
A.J. Pierzynski singled to left on a 1-2 pitch and Alex Rios followed with a bloop single to left on a 1-2 pitch. Mark Teahen made a loud out on a fly out to left. With two on and two out, Juan Pierre grounded out to second to end the game.
Q’s squad played a very good game Monday night …
Matt Garza will face Mark Buehrle in game two on Tuesday night.