Game One Hundred One – Cubs 5 Astros 1
WP – Randy Wells (2-3) LP – Wandy Rodriguez (6-7) Save – None
For the first time since the end of June, the Cubs won on back-to-back days and in the process, Q’s squad posted their first series victory since they took three of four from the Brewers in over a month (June 13-June 16).
Randy Wells won his first game since April 4 with a serviceable six-inning outing. Wells allowed one run on five hits (all singles) with two walks and four strikeouts. Wells escaped a first inning jam and did not allow a run until the fifth. Wells threw 89 pitches, 56 for strikes. Wells was reportedly pitching to keep his job in the rotation and he responded by not making any big mistakes and not beating himself.
Jeff Samardzija, James Russell and Sean Marshall kept the Astros off the board before the offense was able to tack on three runs in the eighth. Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth and struggled once again. Marmol did not allow any runs but gave up a hit and hit a batter while missing the strike zone badly at times.
The Cubs offense did just enough against Wandy Rodriguez in the first seven innings before breaking the game open in the eighth. Rodriguez actually out pitched Randy Wells but made two mistakes that cost him a pair of runs. Rodriguez retired the Cubs in order in four of seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits (with a walk and seven strikeouts) on 100 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Marlon Byrd (2-for-3 with a home run and a walk) put the Cubs on the board in the second with his fifth homer of the season. Byrd tallied two of the Cubs three hits off Rodriguez.
Geovany Soto (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit his ninth longball, first since June 30, in the fifth … the Cubs only two runs against Wandy Rodriguez came via longballs from Byrd and Soto. The Cubs managed only four baserunners against Wandy Rodriguez and nine (six hits and three walks) on the afternoon
Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) drove in the Cubs third run in the eighth with a single to left and scored the Cubs’ fifth run on Chris Johnson’s throwing error.
Not only did the Cubs post victories on back-to-back days, for the second day in a row Q’s squad was not charged with an error.
With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 41-60 on the year, 19 games below .500 … Saturday began like so many of Randy Wells’ starts this season but he was able to escape the first without allowing any runs. Wells had allowed 13 runs in 10 first innings entering Saturday’s game against the Astros.
Michael Bourn led off the game with a single to left on Wells’ first pitch. Angel Sanchez then walked on five pitches to put runners on first and second with no outs. Hunter Pence flied out to right on a 2-1 pitch. Bourn tagged and advanced to third.
Wells struck out Carlos Lee swinging and Chris Johnson looking to end the first.
The Cubs did nothing against Wandy Rodriguez in the first.
Randy Wells gave up a lead off single to Brett Wallace in the second … but that was all. Wells retired Altuve, Corporan and Rodriguez to end the second.
Marlon Byrd gave the Cubs a one run lead with their first hit of the game in the second. Byrd launched a 2-2 pitch with two outs three-quarters the way up the bleachers in left center. Byrd’s fifth longball of the season gave Randy Wells a little wiggle room.
Wells sat down the Astros for the first time in the third.
Wandy Rodriguez continued to take advantage of the Cubs impatience in the bottom of the third and retired the Cubs in order for the second time in three innings.
Carlos Lee reached on an infield single to start the fourth. Lee hit a nice shot down the third baseline. Ramirez made a nice diving stop to hold Lee to a single. Chris Johnson flied out to deep center on a 0-1 pitch. Lee tagged and advanced to second on the play. Brett Wallace grounded out to second; Lee advanced to third but was stranded when Jose Altuve grounded out to third to end the inning. Wells kept the Astros off the board in the fourth on just eight pitches (55 total, 36 for strikes).
For the third time in four innings, Wandy Rodriguez sat down the Cubs in order in the fourth.
Randy Wells retired Corporan and Rodriguez to start the fifth but walked Michael Bourn with two outs. Bourn took off for second on a 1-1 pitch to Sanchez. Soto made a strong throw and Darwin Barney made an excellent pick to nail Bourn at second to end the inning.
Geovany Soto led off the fifth with his ninth homer of the season … and his first since June 30. Soto ripped a 0-2 pitch into the bleachers in left. Marlon Byrd worked the Cubs first walk of the day but Soriano flied out to left center and Carlos Lee lumbered toward the left field line and made a sliding catch to take away an extra base hit from Barney. Wells struck out looking to end the fifth.
At the end of five, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead.
The Astros finally got on the board in the sixth … and of course it was Carlos Lee that drove in the run.
Angel Sanchez singled to left center on a 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Hunter Pence grounded out to short on a 2-2 offering. Sanchez was very close to second and Castro made the right decision by getting the sure out at first. Carlos Lee followed with a single to left center. Sanchez scored just ahead of Byrd’s throw … but Lee held at first.
Wells struck out Chris Johnson swinging on a 1-2 pitch. Brad Mills then called for a hit and run on a 1-2 offering to Wallace. The Astros’ first baseman hit the ball right back up the middle. Castro broke for second to cover and was in perfect position to field the ball and step on the bag just ahead of a sliding Carlos Lee.
The Cubs went down in order for the fourth time in the sixth inning.
Randy Wells turned the game over to the pen in the seventh. Jeff Samardzija retired Altuve and Corporan but gave up a single to Wandy Rodriguez. James Russell was summoned from the pen and Bourn flied out to deep center to end the inning.
Marlon Byrd tallied the Cubs third hit of the game with two outs in the seventh. Byrd hit a weak chopper to third on a 3-2 pitch then beat the throw from Johnson. The ball got past Brett Wallace and Byrd advanced to second … but Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.
Sean Marshall took over in the eighth with the Cubs up 2-1 and retired Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence to start the inning. Carlos Lee singled to right on a 1-2 pitch and Chris Johnson singled to center. With two on and two out, Brad Mills went to his bench.
Jason Bourgeois pinch ran for Lee at second and Matt Downs hit for Brett Wallace. Marshall dropped a curve ball on a 2-2 offering that Downs swung at and missed to end the inning.
Sergio Escalona replaced Rodriguez to start the eighth. Darwin Barney flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Kosuke Fukudome, who came into play right in the top of the inning, stepped in and ripped a triple over Pence’s head in right. Pence misplayed the ball and Kosuke ended up at third with the second triple of his career off a southpaw.
Mills went to his pen and brought in the righty Fernando Rodriguez to face Reed Johnson.
Reed Johnson walked on four pitches and Brad Mills brought his infield in with one out, runners on first and third and the Cubs up 2-1.
Starlin Castro put together a good at bat that resulted in a single past a diving Chris Johnson into left field. Castro’s 44th RBI of the season gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Aramis Ramirez flied out to center on a 1-2 pitch for the second out of the inning.
Carlos Pena hit for Jeff Baker and worked a walk to load the bases with two outs.
Geovany Soto fell behind 0-2 before ripping a 2-2 pitch down the third baseline. Johnson made an excellent diving stop on a ball ticketed for the left field corner. Johnson could not get the ball out of his glove and when he did he threw low and wide to first (right field side of the bag) and his second error of the game allowed the Cubs to tack on a pair of runs. Johnson and Castro scored … 5-1.
Enerio Del Rosario came in and struck out Marlon Byrd to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol started the ninth in a non-save situation and struggled again. Marmol did not allow any runs but was not sharp and threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Jose Altuve led off with a single to center. Marmol then hit Carlos Corporan on the first pitch. Corporan had to leave the game after taking one on his ankle. With Humberto Quintero at first and Altuve at second, Jason Michaels pinch-hit and ripped a 2-2 pitch to Ramirez at third. Aramis could not get the ball out of his glove and the Cubs were able to get only one out. With one down and runners on first and third, Marmol fell behind Bourn 3-1 before eventually striking him out swinging. Angel Sanchez flied out to right to end the inning … and the game.
Once again … a win is a win.
The Cubs will try to win three in a row for the first time in 2011 behind Matt Garza on Sunday afternoon. Jordan Lyles will take the hill for Houston.