Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 3, Marlins 2
WP – Travis Wood (2-1) LP – Alex Sanabia (2-3) Save – Kevin Gregg (3)
The Cubs posted their third straight victory on Saturday night with a total team effort. The Cubs played a clean game, made three excellent defensive plays and hit with runners in scoring position. Dale Sveum’s team has won four of the last five games.
Travis Wood picked up the win after posting his fifth quality start in five tries. Wood made only two mistakes in his six innings of work, and both left the park. After allowing only one home run over his first four starts, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Olivo took Wood deep on Saturday night, the first time this season the Marlins hit two homers in the same game. Wood was not as sharp as he was in his four previous outings but still beat the Fish for the first time in his career. Wood allowed two runs on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings. Wood threw 91 pitches, 62 for strikes.
The offense actually delivered with runners in scoring position. David DeJesus (2-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored) doubled, advanced to third on an error by Stanton and scored the Cubs’ first run of the game on a wild pitch from Alex Sanabia in the first inning … then DeJesus drove in the winning run off lefty Mike Dunn in the seventh inning. DeJesus singled in Welington Castillo (2-for-4 with a run scored) with the Cubs’ third run.
Luis Valbuena (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) drove in Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored) with the Cubs’ second run in the second inning. Julio Borbon hit for Travis Wood in the seventh and worked a two-out walk, one of four walks for the team on Saturday night, and his free pass put the go ahead run in scoring position.
The Cubs out hit the Marlins 8-5 and finished the game 2-for-8 with RISP and left six runners on base.
Alfonso Soriano and Nate Schierholtz made two excellent catches to take hits away from the Marlins. Soriano robbed Austin Kearns of an extra base knock with a catch at the wall in the fourth. Nate Schierholtz made a diving catch toward the line in right that robbed Giancarlo Stanton of extra bases in the sixth.
But the play of the game came in the eighth inning courtesy of Starlin Castro. With runners on first and second, two outs and the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead. Austin Kearns ripped a 1-0 pitch from Marmol back up the middle. Starlin Castro made an excellent diving stop, then a backhanded flip from his knees to Barney covering second. Darwin Barney stretched like a first baseman and caught the ball just ahead of Stanton to end the inning.
The Cubs won their second series of the season with the 3-2 victory on Saturday night and will go for the four-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.
David DeJesus led off the game with a double to right on a 2-0 pitch. DeJesus advanced to third when the ball got past Stanton. A 0-1 pitch to Starlin Castro skipped past Miguel Olivo. DeJesus scampered in with the Cubs’ first run on an Alex Sanabia wild pitch. Castro fouled out to first, Rizzo grounded out to second and Soriano grounded out to third to end the inning.
Travis Wood took the hill with a 1-0 lead and survived a nine-pitch at bat by Donovan Solano to start his outing. After Polanco grounded out to third, Giancarlo Stanton tied the game at one with his first homer of the season. Wood fell behind Stanton and the Marlins’ right fielder launched a 3-1 pitch to deep left. The ball appeared to clear the scoreboard and traveled an estimated 472 feet … and there are reports that the ball has not landed yet. Kearns flied out to left center on Wood’s 20th pitch of the inning (16 strikes) for the third out.
Nate Schierholtz led off the second with a double into the left field corner. After Castillo flied out to center, Luis Valbuena fell behind 1-2. Valbuena worked a full count before ripping a single into center. Schierholtz scored and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Barney grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The offense gave Travis Wood another lead and Wood gave it right back in the home half of the inning. Wood retired Ruggiano (groundout to second) and Mahoney (flyout to right) to start the second. Wood could not put away Miguel Olivo after being ahead of him 1-2. Olivo lined a 3-2 pitch from Wood into the stands in left … game tied at two. Wood struck out Valaika swinging to end the inning … 35 pitches, 26 for strikes, for Wood after two innings.
The game remained tied at two into the bottom of the sixth after the Cubs could not capitalize on a Luis Valbuena double in the fifth and runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. Wood retired all three batters he faced in the sixth thanks to an excellent diving catch by Nate Schierholtz that took away extra bases from Stanton.
Welington Castillo led off the seventh with a gift, bloop single to right. Stanton did not give full effort to run in and catch the ball … and the Marlins’ second baseman could not get to it. Luis Valbuena flied out to a running Austin Kearns in left center for the first out. Barney worked a full count before hitting a routine fly into left for the second out. After Julio Borbon was announced as the pinch hitter for Travis Wood, Mike Redmond went to his pen and replaced Sanabia with lefty Mike Dunn. Sveum left Borbon in and he worked a walk. With runners on first and second with two down, David DeJesus ripped a 2-1 pitch back up the middle and into center. Castillo scored and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Borbon advanced to third on the play. Starlin Castro hit another ball right on the nose … but Dunn made an excellent play on a ball ticketed for center and threw out Castro at first to end the inning.
Kameron Loe took the hill in the seventh and walked Justin Ruggiano. Joe Mahoney followed with a single to left against the shift and the Marlins had runners on first and second with no outs. Miguel Olivo grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and Valaika flied out to right for the third out.
At the end of seven, the Cubs were clinging to a 3-2 lead.
The Cubs could not add to their lead in the eighth. Schierholtz worked a two out walk against Ryan Webb but Olivo threw out Schierholtz trying to steal second to end the inning.
After Juan Pierre was announced as the pinch hitter for Webb, Sveum went to his pen and replaced Loe with James Russell to start the bottom of the eighth. Pierre reached on a dribbler up the middle that Barney fielded near the bag. Barney made a strong throw, Pierre just beat it out. Russell retired Solano on a foul out to Schierholtz. Polanco flied out to DeJesus in right center for the second out.
Dale Sveum made the slow walk and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Giancarlo Stanton.
Marmol uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-0 offering to Stanton that allowed Pierre to advance into scoring position. Marmol ended up walking Stanton on four pitches.
Austin Kearns stepped in with the tying and winning runs on base. Marmol missed with his first offering to Kearns. Kearns then smoked Marmol’s next pitch back up the middle, on the third base side of second. Starlin Castro made an excellent diving stop, then a backhanded flip from his knees to Barney covering second. Darwin Barney stretched like a first baseman and caught the ball just ahead of a sliding Giancarlo Stanton to end the inning.
The Cubs were not able to take advantage of a leadoff single by Castillo in the ninth … and Kevin Gregg made his way in from the pen to try to close it out. Gregg retired all three batters he faced to end the ballgame.
Carlos Villanueva faces Ricky Nolasco in the series finale with the Fish on Sunday afternoon.