Game Seventy-Nine – Cubs 5, Mariners 3 – 11 innings
WP – Carlos Villanueva (2-4) LP – Oliver Perez (2-2) Save – Blake Parker (1)
For the second day in a row the Cubs and Mariners played free baseball, but the Cubs came out on top Saturday night thanks to a two-run homer by Alfonso Soriano in the top of the 11th inning. Soriano drove in three of the Cubs’ five runs and picked up the bullpen after Kevin Gregg blew his first save of the season.
Alfonso Soriano (3-for-5 with a home run, a double and three RBI) continues to thrive as the Cubs’ designated hitter. Soriano followed up a 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored performance on Friday night with a three-hit game on Saturday. In three games as the Cubs’ DH this season, Soriano is 7-for-13 with two home runs, two doubles and five RBI.
Nate Schierholtz (2-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored) had another good game at the plate. Not only was Schierholtz on board for Soriano’s homer in the 11th after reaching on a bunt single to start the inning, but he singled in Luis Valbuena (1-for-5 with a double and a run scored) with the tying run in the sixth and scored the go ahead run on Soriano’s RBI single in the sixth.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a home run) hit his first home run since April 30 in the first inning. Castro squared the ball up rather well once again and has looked like a different hitter since his day off last Tuesday. The Cubs managed 10 hits, four for extra bases, and finished the night 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
Jeff Samardzija was not sharp on Saturday and really struggled with his command early in the game. Samardzija settled down and completed seven innings on a night he obviously did not have his best stuff. The Mariners scored both of their runs off of Samardzija on four straight hits in the third inning. Samardzija allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts on 113 pitches, 64 for strikes. Samardzija was in line for the win when he turned the game over to the pen in the eighth inning.
James Russell survived a shaky eighth inning. Russell struggled once again but was helped his own cause when he picked Jason Bay off first for the second out in the inning. For the second time in as many games, Brian Bogusevic misplayed a ball in left off the bat of Raul Ibanez, but the Cubs’ left fielder made up for his mistake by throwing out Ibanez at the plate to end the eighth.
Kevin Gregg blew his first save opportunity of the year (Cubs pen 16-for-32 in save chances). Gregg was a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities prior to taking the hill on Saturday night. Gregg issued a one out walk to pinch-hitter Henry Blanco that led to pinch-runner Michael Saunders scoring the tying run on a single by Endy Chavez.
Blake Parker picked up his first big league save with a perfect 11th inning after Carlos Villanueva pitched a scoreless tenth.
Ryan Sweeney left the game in the fourth inning with bruised ribs and is listed as day-to-day. Sweeney ran into the wall in center to take away a hit from Kendrys Morales in the third inning.
The Cubs improved to 34-45 on the season with Saturday’s win in Seattle.
Starlin Castro gave the Cubs an early 1-0 in the first inning. After Valbuena flied out to center to start the game, Castro stepped in and pulled a 0-1 pitch into the stands in left center. Castro’s fourth homer of the season put the Cubs on the board. But the Cubs did not manage another hit as Schierholtz flied out to left and Soriano flied out to center to end the inning. Harang threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the opening inning.
Jeff Samardzija worked around a lead-off walk to Endy Chavez in the first inning. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the first, 14 for strikes.
The Mariners jumped on Samardzija in the second after Harang retired the Cubs in order in the top of the inning.
After Raul Ibanez grounded out to Rizzo to start the inning, Justin Smoak launched Samardzija’s first pitch. The ball ended up in the stands in right and tied the game at one. Mike Zunino ripped Samardzija’s first pitch over Bogusevic’s head in left for a double. Dustin Ackley followed with a single to left center. Zunino scored as Bogusevic bobbled the ball. Bogusevic was originally charged with an error but that was changed later in the game. Ackley took off for second on a 1-0 pitch to Brendan Ryan. Ryan swung at and missed the pitch on what appeared to be a hit and run. Castillo threw out Ackley at second for out number two. Ryan reached on a bloop double into shallow right. Barney attempted a diving catch but he could not haul it in to end the inning. Samardzija then walked Chavez and put two on with two down for Brad Miller. Miller lined out to left center to end the inning.
The Mariners scored two runs on four straight hits off Samardzija in the second. Samardzija needed 42 pitches, 23 for strikes, to complete two innings on Saturday night.
The game remained 2-1 Mariners through the fifth inning. Samardzija settled down somewhat and threw 75 pitches, 44 for strikes, over the first five innings.
Luis Valbuena doubled to left center with one out in the sixth, just the Cubs’ third hit of the game against Harang. Castro grounded out to short for the second out.
Nate Schierholtz delivered a single into right on a 2-1 pitch. Valbuena rounded third and slid in safe with the tying run. Chavez missed the cutoff man and threw all the way to the plate. Schierholtz had his mind set on second base as soon as Chavez made his throw but could not advance to third when Zunino’s throw ended up in shallow center.
Alfonso Soriano shattered his bat and blooped a single into center. Schierholtz scored and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead on back-to-back hits with runners in scoring position. Rizzo flied out to center to end the inning.
Samardzija continued struggling with his command in the bottom of the sixth. Kendrys Morales led off the inning with a single to center (3-2 pitch) but did not advance. Samardzija retired Ibanez (flyout to center), Smoak (swinging strikeout) and Zunino (groundout to third) in order to end the inning. Samardzija threw 91 pitches, 53 for strikes, over the first six innings.
The Cubs did nothing against Harang in the top of the seventh and Samardzija worked around a one-out walk to pinch-hitter Nick Franklin without allowing the Mariners to tie the game.
At the end of seven, the Cubs were clinging to a 3-2 lead.
The Cubs went down in order quickly in the eighth and James Russell replaced Samardzija to start the eighth.
Kyle Seager lined out to Barney for the first out in the eighth. Russell then surrendered a single to right to Kendrys Morales. Jason Bay ran for Morales representing the tying run. Russell fell behind Raul Ibanez 3-0 before getting one over. Bay took off too soon before the 3-1 pitch. Russell stepped off and threw to Rizzo. Rizzo took the throw, got himself into position and threw a strike to Castro to cut down Bay for the second out. Ibanez blooped Russell’s next pitch into shallow left. Bogusevic tried to make a diving catch, came up short, the ball rolled behind him and Ibanez ended up at second on the second misplayed ball in as many days by Bogusevic on a ball hit by Raul Ibanez.
Justin Smoak smacked a 1-1 pitch into left. Brian Bogusevic fielded the ball and threw a one-hop strike to Castillo and nailed Ibanez at the plate to end the inning.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 3-2.
Alfonso Soriano reached on a one-out double in the ninth but was stranded when Charlie Furbush retired Rizzo on a foul out to Zunino and Borbon struck out swinging to end the inning.
Kevin Gregg took over in the ninth and issued a one-out walk to Henry Blanco. Blanco hit for Furbush after Dustin Ackley had to leave the game when he injured his thumb trying to make a diving catch on Soriano’s double in the top of the inning. Eric Wedge surrendered his designated hitter when he put Bay into the game in right and moved Endy Chavez from right to center.
Michael Saunders ran for Blanco and advanced to second when Nick Franklin grounded out to Rizzo for the second out.
Endy Chavez drove a 1-0 pitch past Barney and into center. Saunders scored and tied the game at three. Gregg struck out Brad Miller swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning and send the game into extra innings.
Yoervis Medina struck out Bogusevic swinging for the first out in the tenth. Darwin Barney walked, the Cubs’ first free pass of the series, and advanced to second on a single by Welington Castillo. Luis Valbuena popped a 1-0 pitch into shallow right. The ball fell in between Franklin and Bay but Bay picked the ball up and threw out Castillo at second. With runners on first and third with two down, Castro rolled over a 2-2 pitch and pulled it to third. Seager fielded the ball and threw to second for the third out.
Carlos Villanueva retired the Mariners in order in the tenth … and the game went to the 11th inning tied at three.
Nate Schierholtz stepped in against Oliver Perez to lead off the 11th inning and reached with a bunt single. Alfonso Soriano followed and launched a 1-2 pitch just to the right of straight away center. Soriano’s second home run in as many days put the Cubs up 5-3. Perez retired Rizzo on a flyout to center. Borbon followed Schierholtz’s example and bunted his way on against the difficult lefty. Perez struck out both Bogusevic and Barney swinging to end the inning.
The game went to the bottom of the 11th with the Cubs up 5-3 and Blake Parker on his way in to close it out.
Blake Parker retired the side in order in the 11th and earned his first big league save.
Edwin Jackson faces Jeremy Bonderman in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.