Game Eighty-Seven – Cubs 8, White Sox 2
WP – Matt Garza (5-1) LP – Matt Thornton (0-3) Save – None
The Cubs completed the season sweep over the White Sox on Monday night behind a tremendous outing from Matt Garza and a five-run eighth inning. The Cubs swept the season series against the South Side for the first time since 1998 by outscoring the Sox 32-8 in the four games.
Matt Garza was excellent once again. Garza allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. Garza made only one mistake on the night, a solo homer by Josh Phegley in the third inning that tied the game at one. Garza said after the game he was gassed after throwing 102 pitches, 64 for strikes. Once again, if Monday was Garza’s last outing in a Cubs’ uniform, he went out with a win.
Blake Parker and James Russell retired the last six batters of the game to close out the win.
The game was tied at two going into the eighth before the Cubs scored five runs and blew the game open. Matt Thornton issued a four-pitch walk to Alfonso Soriano that opened the floodgates. Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, a HBP and three RBI) doubled in Soriano and Dioner Navarro with the go ahead runs. Dave Sappelt (4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored) singled in Valbuena and Cody Ransom (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI) capped the inning with a two-run single.
Alfonso Soriano (3-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, two stolen bases and four runs scored) reached base all five times on Monday and scored four of the Cubs’ eight runs. Dave Sappelt had a career-high four hits and Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) delivered a big single in the eighth that put Soriano in scoring position.
Alfonso Soriano passed Harold Baines with his solo home run in the sixth inning. Soriano is tied with Dwight Evans for 58th place for the most home runs in Major League history with 385. Soriano hit a home run and stole two bases in the same game for the first time since 2006. With two stolen bases on Monday, Soriano has swiped 10 on the season. The first time since 2008 that Soriano has stolen at least 10 bases in a single season. Soriano stole 22 total bases from 2009-2012 … 2009 (9), 2010 (5), 2011 (2) and 2012 (6).
With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 39-48 on the season … nine games under .500.
After rain delayed the start of the game for 29 minutes, the Cubs went down in order in the first. Matt Garza retired the Sox in order on just 12 pitches, seven for strikes, in the first frame.
The Cubs got on the board in the second inning after Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a double into the left field corner. Soriano then stole third standing and without a throw when Hector Santiago forgot about him. With Soriano at third and no outs, Dioner Navarro walked to put runners on the corners for Luis Valbuena.
Luis Valbuena lifted a 1-2 pitch into right center. Alex Rios caught the ball, Soriano tagged and scored the first run of the game. Darwin Barney rapped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Cubs were making Santiago work (33 pitches, 22 for strikes after two) but managed only one run in two frames.
Matt Garza retried all three batters he faced in the second. Garza needed only 21 pitches, 12 for strikes, to complete two frames on Monday.
The Cubs wasted a huge chance to add to their lead in the third. Dave Sappelt singled and Julio Borbon walked to start the inning. But Castro popped out to right, Ransom popped out to left and Rizzo flied out to center to end the inning.
The White Sox tied the game with one swing of the bat in the third. Garza retired Ramirez on a liner to right. Josh Phegley launched Garza’s first pitch into the stands in left center … and just like that the game was tied at one on the Sox’s first hit of the game. Garza retired Blake Tekotte on a grounder to short and struck out De Aza swinging to end the inning … 33 pitches for Garza after three, 21 for strikes.
The game remained tied at one through the fourth and fifth innings. The Cubs wasted another scoring chance in the fifth after Dave Sappelt punched a single into right to start the inning. Cody Ransom doubled down the third baseline with two outs. But Sappelt was not able to score after fan interference was called and put runners on second and third with two down. Rizzo fouled out to third to end the inning.
Matt Garza surrendered a one out double to Alexei Ramirez in the fifth … but that was all. Garza threw 65 pitches over the first five innings, 40 for strikes.
Alfonso Soriano led off the sixth with a solo homer to left. Soriano’s sixth home run in last 10 games put the Cubs up 2-1. Navarro popped out to right for the first out. Hector Santiago then hit Valbuena on a 1-2 pitch. Robin Ventura decided that was enough for Santiago and went to his pen for Matt Lindstrom. Barney struck out swinging and Sappelt flied out to left center to end the inning.
Matt Garza took the hill in the sixth with a 2-1 lead … that would quickly evaporate. Garza caught De Aza looking for the first out, Gordon Beckham chopped a 0-1 pitch back up the middle. Barney fielded the ball and made an off balance throw to first. The ball sailed, went into the stands and Beckham ended up at second on an infield single and Barney’s second error in as many games. Alex Rios blooped a single to right and the Sox had runners on first and third with one out. Garza struck out Adam Dunn swinging.
With Jeff Keppinger at the plate, Rios took off for second on a 1-1 pitch. Rios swiped second but Beckham broke for the plate and stole home. Beckham tied the game on the second steal of home against the Cubs in four games. Garza retired Keppinger on a grounder to third to end the inning. Garza threw 85 pitches, 53 for strikes, over six innings.
After six the game was tied at two.
The game remained tied through the seventh before the Cubs blew the game open in the eighth.
Matt Thornton started the eighth and retired Rizzo on a pop out to third. Thornton wanted nothing to do with the red-hot Soriano and walked him on four pitches. Thornton fell behind Navarro 3-1. Navarro lined a single into left and put runners on first and second with one out.
Luis Valbuena drove Thornton’s first pitch into the gap in left center. Soriano scored the go ahead run and Navarro lumbered around third and was waived home with the Cubs’ fourth run. With Valbuena at second with one out, Ventura went to his pen for Nate Jones. Barney tapped back to the mound for the second out.
Dave Sappelt ripped a 2-0 pitch into left center. Valbuena scored, 5-2 Cubs. Jones then walked Borbon and Starlin Castro singled to load the bases.
Cody Ransom broke the game open with a single to center. Sappelt and Borbon scored, 7-2. Ventura went back to his pen for Ramon Troncoso to face Anthony Rizzo. Troncoso struck out Rizzo to end the inning.
Blake Parker retired the Sox in order in the eighth … and after eight complete, the Cubs led 7-2.
Addison Reed started the ninth for the Sox and the Cubs kept hitting.
Alfonso Soriano reached base for the fifth time in as many at bats with a single to right. Navarro popped out and Valbuena struck out swinging. Darwin Barney collected his first hit on the night with a single to left. Dave Sappelt delivered his fourth hit, a single to center that plated Soriano with the Cubs’ eighth run. Borbon popped out to first to end the inning.
Blake Parker and James Russell retired all three batters in the ninth to end the game.
The Cubs open a two-game series on Tuesday night at Wrigley against the Angels … Travis Wood against Joe Blanton in the opener.