Game One Hundred Forty – Cubs 6 Pirates 3
WP – Randy Wells (7-4) LP – Charlie Morton (9-9) Save – Sean Marshall (4)
The Cubs ended their three-game losing streak behind a decent outing from Randy Wells … and contributions from the entire lineup. The Cubs salvaged the finale of the three game series and finished the season series against the Bucs with an 8-8 mark.
Sunday was a typical September game between two teams playing out the schedule. It was long, mistake filled and featured two pitching staffs that gave up a combined nine runs on 20 hits with 11 walks, two wild pitches, a balk and 12 strikeouts.
Randy Wells picked up his fifth straight win (last loss on July 28) after struggling early and escaping a bases loaded jam in the second inning. Wells labored through the first two innings and by the end of the third he had already thrown 65 pitches (38 for strikes). Wells ended up going six and allowing just one run on seven hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts. Wells threw 114 pitches, 67 for strikes.
The Pirates other two runs came against Jeff Samardzija in the eighth. After Darwin Barney dropped a pop up by Derrek Lee, Neil Walker hit a blast over the wall in center.
James Russell and Sean Marshall did their jobs on Sunday … and Marshall ended up picking up his fourth save filling in for Carlos Marmol.
The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience on Sunday afternoon. Q’s offense walked a season-high nine times and pounded out 10 hits.
Four different Cubs drove in runs and three of the Cubs six runs scored on unusual plays … a throwing error, an infield single with the runner (Koyie Hill) scoring from second and a ground out to the pitcher.
Marlon Byrd (1-for-3 with a walk, a sac fly and two RBI) drove in two of the Cubs six runs. Koyie Hill (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) scored the go ahead run in the fourth on an infield single off the bat of Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a RBI and a stolen base). Tony Campana (2-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base) also recorded a multi-hit game and played a solid right field.
Carlos Pena (0-for-1 with two runs scored and four walks) worked a career-high four walks on Sunday afternoon. Pena became the first Cub since Ryan Theriot in September of 2009 to walk four times in the same game.
Aramis Ramirez (1-for-3 with two runs scored and two walks) also had a good day at the plate.
After striking out in his first at bat of the game, Bryan LaHair reached base in his next three plate appearances (two singles and an error by Ronny Cedeno). LaHair finished 2-for-4 with a RBI in his Cubs debut.
The Cubs scored in five of the eight innings and at least one run in the third through the sixth but still struggled with runners in scoring position. The Cubs finished the game 3-for-15 with RISP and left 13 runners on base.
With Sunday’s victory (6-16 on Sundays in 2011), the Cubs improved to 60-80 on the season … 20 games below .500. Randy Wells’ first inning struggles continued on Sunday and he put his team in an early hole. Alex Presley (6-for-9 with a walk in first two games) ripped a 2-1 pitch into center. Josh Harrison popped out to shallow center for the first out.
With Andrew McCutchen at the plate, Presley stole second on a 3-1 pitch. McCutchen flied out to deep center, Presley advanced to third and scored on a single to right center by Derrek Lee (1-2 pitch) … Lee’s ninth RBI in five games against the Cubs. Wells fell behind Neil Walker 3-1. Walker lined out to third (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Wells threw 23 pitches in the first … only 13 strikes.
The Cubs had a chance (again) to put runs on the board in the first but ran themselves out of a possible big inning.
Starlin Castro led off the home half of the first with a single to left (0-1 pitch). Tony Campana dropped down a bunt to the first base side of the mound (first pitch). Morton fielded the ball but Walker was late breaking for second. Campana easily beat him to the bag.
Charlie Morton’s first pitch to Aramis Ramirez got under Michael McKenry and he briefly lost the ball. Castro appeared to break for third but stopped … Campana did not see Castro stop and was thrown out trying to get back to first. Castro advanced to third but instead of two on and no outs for Ramirez, it was runner on third with one down.
Ramirez popped Morton’s next pitch to Walker in shallow right.
Carlos Pena walked to put runners on first and third with two outs for Bryan LaHair. LaHair looked over matched in his first big league at bat of the season … and struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Randy Wells continued to struggle in the second and was able to wiggle his way out of trouble without allowing any runs.
Garrett Jones started the inning with a towering double over Byrd’s head in center. Ronny Cedeno followed with a hard-hit single to center (2-2 pitch). Jones was held at third with no outs. Wells jumped ahead of Michael McKenry 0-2 before eventually walking him to load the bases … with no outs.
Randy Wells struck out Charlie Morton (1-2 pitch) swinging for the first out.
The hot-hitting Alex Presley stepped in and popped out to short (3-1 pitch) for the second out. Wells did a good job of getting one in on the hands of Presley. Wells fell behind Harrison but was able to retiring him on a fly out to Byrd in left center to end the inning.
It took Randy Wells 52 pitches (29 for strikes) to get through two innings.
Marlon Byrd and Darwin Barney worked rare walks to start the bottom of the second … the second and third free pass issued by Morton in a four-batter span.
Koyie Hill struck out swinging on four pitches and Wells dropped down a successful sac bunt (third base side of the mound) that advanced Byrd and Barney ninety feet. Starlin Castro ended the inning with a fly out to right (3-0 pitch).
In two innings, the Cubs had already left four on base …0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Randy Wells faced the minimum in the third after giving up a one-out single to center to Derrek Lee (2-2 pitch). Neil Walker hit a 1-1 pitch back to the mound … Wells started the 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. After three, Wells had thrown 65 pitches (38 for strikes).
Tony Campana led off the third with a solid single to left center. Campana stole second on the first pitch to Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez ended up walking on four pitches (Cubs fourth walk in two-plus innings) to put runners on first and second with no outs … the third time in three innings the Cubs put the first two runners on to start the inning.
Carlos Pena worked the count full before hitting a tailor made double play ball to Neil Walker at second base. Walker made a bad feed to Cedeno to force Ramirez at second. Cedeno’s throw was on the right field side of first. Campana scored the tying run on the throwing error. With Pena at first, Bryan LaHair went with a 1-2 pitch and dropped a single into left center. Pena ended up at third with one down.
Marlon Byrd predictably swung at the first pitch … and grounded into an inning ending double play (5-4-3).
The Pirates did nothing against Randy Wells in the fourth … 1-2-3 on 11 pitches (76 pitches, 44 for strikes in four innings).
Koyie Hill ripped Morton’s first pitch into center for a one-out single in the fourth. Wells dropped down his second sacrifice bunt of the game. Hill advanced to second with two outs.
Starlin Castro hit a slow chopper toward third on a 2-2 pitch. Harrison charged the ball but his throw was up the line. Lee came off and tried to tag Castro has he ran by. Lee was ruled to not have tagged Castro … and on the play Hill rounded third and scored the go ahead run. Castro swiped second on a 1-0 offering to Campana. Campana ended up tapping back to the mound to end the inning.
At the end of four, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead … and should have been a lot more (1-for-8 with RISP, six left on base).
Randy Wells retired Morton to start the fifth before giving up another hit to Alex Presley (8-for-12 with a walk in series). Harrison flied out to deep center and McCutchen worked a two out walk. Wells uncorked a wild pitch on a 0-1 offering to Derrek Lee. Both runners advanced but were stranded when Lee flied out to center to end the inning … 95 pitches for Wells after five, 54 for strikes.
For the fourth time in five innings the Cubs put the leadoff runner on base. Aramis Ramirez shattered his bat but singled to left (first pitch) to start the fifth inning.
Carlos Pena walked to put two on with no outs (fourth time in five innings Cubs put first two runners on with no outs) for Bryan LaHair.
LaHair hit Morton’s first pitch back up the middle … and off Morton’s thigh. The ball went to Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno dropped the ball, everyone was safe and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Marlon Byrd swung at the first pitch … and got the job done. Byrd lifted Morton’s first offering into center. Ramirez tagged and scored, 3-1 Cubs. Morton plunked Barney on a 1-1 pitch to reload the bases and ended his afternoon.
Tony Watson came in and the southpaw retired Hill on a tapper to the first base side of the mound. Pena scored on the play … 4-1 Cubs. Wells was allowed to hit for himself with runners on second and third with two down. Wells tapped back to Watson (1-0 pitch) to end the inning.
At the end of five, the Cubs led 4-1.
The Pirates managed a two-out single by Cedeno off Randy Wells in the sixth … but that was it. After six, Wells pitch count stood at 114 (67 for strikes).
Tony Watson stayed in for the Pirates in the sixth and struck out both Castro and Campana to start the inning. Aramis Ramirez walked on five pitches … and stole second on a 2-0 pitch to Pena. Pena walked on four pitches.
Bryan LaHair blooped Watson’s first pitch into shallow left. Ramirez scored … 5-1 Cubs. With runners on first and second with two down, Byrd popped out to second to end the inning.
After six, the Cubs led 5-1.
Randy Wells went to the mound and warmed up to start the seventh. Once the Pirates pinch-hitter was announced, Quade went to the mound and made a double-switch. James Russell replaced Wells and Reed Johnson took over in right with Campana moving to left. Bryan LaHair departed after a solid debut (2-for-4 with a RBI).
The Pirates did nothing against James Russell in the seventh … three up, three down on 13 pitches (nine for strikes).
Barney and Hill made two quick outs (three pitches) against Daniel McCutchen to start the seventh. Reed Johnson singled to right on a 0-2 pitch to keep the inning going for Castro. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Castro flied out to deep left to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija struck out McCutchen swinging to start the eighth. Derrek Lee appeared to pop out to Darwin Barney but Barney dropped the ball and allowed Lee to reach. Lee took second on a wild pitch and trotted home on a long homer to center off the bat of Neil Walker (3-2 pitch) … and just like that it was 5-3, Cubs.
Samardzija struck out Jones and Cedeno to end the inning.
Carlos Pena worked his fourth free pass of the game with two outs in the eighth. Blake DeWitt hit for Samardzija and worked a walk against Jose Veras. Casey Coleman ran for DeWitt. Marlon Byrd showed rare patience and blooped a single into left center on a 3-2 pitch. Pena scored, 6-3 Cubs. Barney popped out to second (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Sean Marshall, not Carlos Marmol, started the ninth and struck out pinch-hitter Jose Tabata looking. Ryan Doumit hit for Veras and singled to center (1-1 pitch). The hot-hitting Alex Presley stepped in and struck out swinging. Marshall jumped ahead of Josh Harrison 1-2 before committing a balk that advanced Doumit to second. Harrison grounded out to Barney … game over.
The Cubs are now 19-13 in games started by Koyie Hill this season.
Winning an ugly game is better than losing one …
The Cubs and Reds open a three-game series on Monday afternoon at Wrigley … Matt Garza is slated to face Dontrelle Willis in the opener.