Archive | Alfonso Soriano

It’s Never Too Late to Develop a Winning Formula!

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

Hey Cubs Fans – – it’s never too late to develop a winning formula.  Good pitching and timely hitting usually results in numerous wins.  The Cubs – at least since the All-Star Break – can attest to that.  Except for Ted Lilly’s debacle against the Phillies in Philadelphia on July 20th, the Cubs have had excellent pitching and solid, often-clutch hitting, and the results show.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs have put together a solid 9-2 record to take over 1st place from the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race.  Great pitching, coupled with excellent hitting from Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano has catapulted the Cubs into the lead.

In last night’s 5-1 win in 13 innings over the 2nd place Astros, pitching took center stage for much of the game.  Carlos Zambrano put together another solid outing – 7 innings, 1 ER, 7 hits and 4 walks.  The lone run scored on Carlos Lee’s home run in the 2nd inning.  Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol, Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall combined to pitch 4 straight scoreless innings from the 8th throught the 11th innings.  And Jeff Samardzija threw 2 scoreless innings and picked up his 1st win of the 2009 MLB schedule when Alfonso Soriano stroked his walk-off game-winning Grand Slam off of Chris Sampson to the delight of the Wrigley faithful.

That’s a perfect lead-in to the Cubs offense.  Although it wasn’t all good (Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot were a combined 0 for 12 in the 1-2 spot at the top of the order, while Soriano was 0 for 5 heading into his 13th inning at-bat), Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez continued their hot hitting.  Lee hit a solo home run off of Wandy Rodriguez in the 4th inning to tie the game at 1 and also drew 3 walks, 1 of which started the Cubs rally in the 13th.  Ramirez notched 3 hits and raised his batting average to .338.  Ramirez’s single in the 13th moved Lee to 3rd base and forced Astros’ Manager Cecil Cooper’s hands to intentionally walk Milton Bradley to load the bases to face Soriano.  The move back-fired in a hurry as Soriano launched the game-winning shot deep to center field to give the Cubs the dramatic 5-1 win.  It was Soriano’s 4th career Grand Slam and he had this to say about the swing – – “I think that’s my best swing I made in the second half.”  Id’ agree.

The Cubs increased their winning streak to 5 games and they increased their lead over the Astros to 3 games and the Brewers to 4 games.  How long will the streak go – guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

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Wells, Hart, Harden Lead Weekend Sweep Over Reds

Posted on 27 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

With the Cubs continuing to get good starting pitching on an-almost daily basis, the rest of the NL Central better be on notice about the Chicago Cubs.  The stellar Cubs pitching has kept the Cubs within striking distance of the NL Central leaders throughout the 2009 MLB schedule.  The lack of offense has kept the number of wins down, but with the bats starting to come alive with the resurgence of Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, the wins have started piling up as the pitchng continues to excel.

This weekend was a perfect example.

Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009.  Wells has made 14 starts in 2009, pitching at least 5 innings in all but 1 starts.  He has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in any of his starts, and even then, he has done that only 3 times.  Wells has a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio (59 to 19) and his low WHIP (1.16) demonstrates that.  In Friday’s win over the Reds (his 6th of the season), Wells pitched 6 innings, giving up just 3 earned runs on one bad pitch – a 3-run HR to the Reds pitcher. Wells has won 6 of his last 7 decisions.  It would be hard to imagine the Cubs being where they are without the solid pitching of Wells this year.  Having Wells in the starting rotation has allowed Manger Lou Pinella to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen as the Cubs lone lefty in the pen.

On Saturday, Kevin Hart delivered another solid start filling in for the injured Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly.  His 6-inning, 1-run, 5-hit performance helped him notch his 2nd consecutive victory.  More importantly, Hart walked only 1 batter – in each of his previous 5-inning starts, Hart had walked 5 batters.  This is a good sign for the Cubs as Ted Lilly will continue to be on the DL for at least 3 more weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee today.

On Sunday, Rich Harden had one of  his best starts of the year.  Harden gave up a solo home run to the 3rd batter of the game – Joey Votto – but retired the other 18 batters he faced, including the final 16 batters in a row.  Harden needed only 90 pitches to notch his 7th win of the season.  Harden has given up only 1 run in each of his last 3 starts.  This outing was even more special because of the struggles he has had this year during the day (1-5; 7.38 ERA) and at home at Wrigley Field (2-5; 7.59 ERA).

Carlos Zambrano has been a mainstay in the rotation as well (7-4; 3.48 ERA; 1.35 WHIP), while the Cubs expect to get Ryan Dempster back on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  Good news for Cubs fans all across the nation.

Cubs Phillies Baseball

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Aramis Ramirez Gets Hot, Cubs Vault to NL Central Lead

Posted on 26 July 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

So Aramis Ramirez goes, so the Cubs go.  It took a couple of weeks for Aramis Ramirez to get back into the “swing” of things after his 2+ month stint on the DL, but he is “back and better than ever” to quote “Mike & Mike” in the morning.  Ramirez’ hot hitting has coincided with the Cubs catapult into 1st place in the NL Central race with a 1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Who knows how long they will be there, but it must have come as a welcome relief to know that they have it in there despite all of the poor play and injuries that have plagued the Cubs ball club during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Aramis Ramirez has been on fire since Wednesday’s win in Philadelphia.  In that game, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 walks, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  He had home runs in Friday’s and Saturday’s wins and 2 more hits in Sunday’s sweep of the Reds.  Overall, in his last 4 games, Ramirez is 9 for 16 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.  His batting average is back up over .330 and his on-base percentage is just under .400 at .394.    When Ramirez starts hitting, it seems like the rest of the team starts hitting and developing more scoring chances.

Alfonso Soriano has really turned it on as of late.  Soriano has a modest 9-game hitting streak, and his batting average is back above .250.  Soriano has 5 multi-hit games during that stretch, with 3 home runs, 8 RBI’s and 5 runs scored.  If the Cubs can get a more consistent and productive Soriano down the stretch in the 6-hole, the Cubs should be able to stay in the NL Central race for the duration of the 2009 MLB schedule.

The Cubs open a big 4-game series against the 3rd place Houston Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field.  Carlos Zambrano will start the opener against Wandy Rodriguez.

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Cubs Counter Cards Acquisition of Matt Holliday with 8-5 Win Over Reds

Posted on 24 July 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

The Cubs countered the Cards’ Friday acquisition of A’s slugger Matt Holliday by slugging out a big 8-5 home win over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.  Randy Wells picked up his 6th win of the season – 6 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk and 5 K’s.  The Reds scored their lone runs off of Wells on pitcher Aaron Harang’s 1st career home run – a 3-run shot in the 2nd inning that gave the Reds a 3-1 lead.  But Wells settled down after that and Aaron Heilman and Carlos Marmol each worked perfect innings to get the Cubs to a 4-3 lead in the 8th.

The Cubs bats added 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to blow the game open – but it was good that happened because closer Kevin Gregg struggled in a no-save situation in the 9th by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

The Cubs offense had a productive day 8 runs on 14 hits, including 4 home runs.  Aramis Ramirez was the star – 4 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored, including the go-ahead solo HR in the 6th inning that gave the Cubs the lead for good.  Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome each had 2 hits.  Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker each hit solo home runs.  Could this be a sign of good things to come?  One think I’ve leanred with this Cubs team – you have to take it day-by-day.

The St. Louis Cardinals now have a 1.0 game lead over the Cubs pending their game against the Phillies Friday night in Philadelphia.  The Cards are hoping to make a big splash with the Holliday acquisition, but gave up 3 young prospects, one of whom was considered to be the Cards best minor league player – power-hitting 3rd baseman Brett Wallace – to acquire Holliday.  Plus with Holliday becoming a free agent in the off-season, there is no guarantee that the tight-spending Cards will be able to sign Holliday to a long-term deal with slugger Albert Pujols becoming a free agent following the 2010 MLB schedule.

The Cubs fended off the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 after the Brewers landed prized ace C.C. Sabathia in early July for the stretch pennant run, and the Cubs hope that they will be able to overtake the Cards in 2009 during the last 2+ months of the season despite the Holliday acquisition.

Although the Cubs won’t be making any big moves themselves because of the tenuous sale/ownership situation, having certain players perform at higher levels will serve as “mid-year” acquisitions in 2009.  Aramis Ramirez getting back on track after his shoulder injury and Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano hitting closer to their career numbers will certainly go a long way.  Getting Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto back from their injury stints on the disabled list will also help.  It’s not the ideal situation for the Cubs, but it is what it is.  Should be a fun, but rocky ride in August and September – let’s just hope they have enough in the tank to win a 3rd straight NL Central division title.

Reds Cubs Baseball

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Will Cubs be able to Build off Momentum from 10-5 Win over Phillies?

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Phillies Baseball

Will the Cubs be able to build off the momentum of Wednesday’s 10-5 win over the Phillies in Philadelphia?  That is the $50,000 question.  The Cubs avoided the sweep with the win, and although it wasn’t always pretty, a win is a win.  Carlos Zambrano came up with a big start in a must-win situation to avoid the sweep at Citizens Bank Ballpark, and although he got tagged for 4 ER on 10 hits and 3 walks in 6 2/3 innings, he did his job and gave the bullpen an 8-5 lead at the time of his departure.  The bullpen struggled a little bit as well as Angel Guzman and Kevin Gregg had some control issues, but each pitcher got the Cubs out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th and 8th innings and the rest was history.

The Cubs bats finally lit up in one of the friendliest ballparks in the big leagues.  The Cubs scored 10 runs on 13 hits.  After drawing just 1 walk in the 1st 2 games of the series, the Cubs drew 9 walks on Wednesday.  It’s about time.  Milton Bradley was back in the lineup after getting a few days off, and he responded by going 2 for 4 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk.  It was great to see Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup in a day game after a late night game – maybe his shoulder is OK?!  ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s, 2 runs scored and 2 walks.  Ryan Theriot had 3 hits, 2 runs scored and 3 stolen bases, Derrek Lee went 1 for 3 with an RBI, 2 runs scored and 3 walks, while Alfonso Soriano stroked 2 hits to bring his batting average back up to .245!  Hip hip hooray!!!

As the Cards got swept in Houston, the Cubs find themselves just 1 game out of 1st place in the NL Central.  For as bad as they have looked this 2009 MLB schedule, the division is still there for the taking.  How will they respond?  Will they take it to the Reds (44-50) and Astros (also just 1 game behind the Cards) on the upcoming 7-game home stand at Wrigley Field?  Or will they revert to their losing ways after showing some (little) signs of getting their act together?  I’ve seen too much bad baseball from this club in 2009 to think that they will get it together.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope they can string together a good stretch of wins to put some pressure on the Cards, Astros and Brewers to have to perform well on a daily basis.  But if recent history is any indication, we’ll probably see a mediocre 4-3 or 3-4 homestand with the Cubs trailing the mediocre Cards by a game or two in the mediocre NL Central…  Anyone see a mediocre pattern here?

Cubs Phillies Baseball

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Shockingly Good Pitching From Harden; Shockingly Bad Hitting by Cubs Offense

Posted on 22 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Phillies Baseball

Where did it all go wrong for GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella with this frustrating 2009 Cubs ball club? The Cubs lost to the Phillies 4-1 in 13 innings on Tuesday night as Jayson Werth’s 3-run HR off of Jeff Samardzija gave the Phillies their 10th straight win.  That wasn’t surprising.  What was surprising was how good Rich Harden looked and how bad the Cubs bats are on a daily basis.

First Harden – as I wrote yesterday, I expected the Phillies to knock Harden around, but he threw a season high 117 pitches in 7 solid innings.  Harden gave up only 1 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks and the lone run scored on a Jimmy Rollins solo home run way back in the 3rd inning.  Harden also had 6 K’s.  The rest of the bullpen was up to the challenge too – Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings, Angel Guzman tossed a scoreless inning and Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman combined for a scoreless 11th inning.  Jeff Samardzija even looked good – he retired the 1st 5 batters he faced over the 12th and 13th innings, but got into trouble when he walked both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with 2 outs in the 13th.  Not a good move – because walks always come back to haunt you.  Then Samardzija served up the game-winning HR to Werth and the Cubs had dropped the 1st 2 games to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark.

But the big issue is the Cubs hitting.  After knocking around one of baseball’s worst pitching staff’s against the Nats in DC over the weekend, it was back to the “real-world” for the Cubs.  The Cubs should have felt good as Citizens Bank Ballpark is one of the best hitter park in the big leagues.  Batters improves their statistics each night they get to play in the ball park.  But not the Cubs hitters.  In 22 innings, the Cubs have managed just 2 runs off of the mediocre Phillies pitching.  Worse than that, they managed only 6 hits in Monday’s loss and only 5 hits in Tuesday’s loss.  After drawing only 3 walks on Monday, the Cubs didn’t walk once on Tuesday night.  Not 1 walk in 13 innings!?  How can that be?  Only 3 Cubs players had hits in both games – Alfonso Soriano had 3 hits on Monday and 1 hit on Tuesday, while Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukodome each had 1 hit in each game.  Derrek Lee is a combined 1 for 8 while Aramis Ramirez is a combined 0 for 7 in the series.  What makes it even worse is the fact that the Cubs seem to waste good pitching outings with horrible hitting performances.  Rich Harden’s Tuesday night start was another quality start for the Cubs starting rotation.  The Cubs now have 57 quality starts on the season, but only 47 wins to show for it.  When you don’t win quality starts, you are not going to be near the top of your division.

This team is only still in contention because the rest of the NL Central is so bad.  The Cubs are 47-45 and are tied with the Brewers and Astros for 2nd place behind the Cardinals.  I feel like I’ve given the team (and Hendry and Pinella) the benefit of the doubt in 2009, but after 92 games, it’s time to step up and take accountability for your play on the field.  Stay tuned for some more critical posts about the state of the Cubs and what they need to do to make sure the team can stay competitive for the forseable future…

Cubs Phillies Baseball

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Cubs Win 11-3, Complete Sweep over Nationals in DC

Posted on 20 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Nationals 11-3 on Sunday afternoon and swept the Nationals in a 4-game weekend series at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.  In Sunday’s win, the Cubs scored 11 runs, clubbed 16 hits, drew 5 walks and took advantage of 2 Nats errors to complete the 4-game sweep over baseball’s worst team.  Jake Fox and Alfonso Soriano each hit HR’s for the Cubs in the win.  Soriano finished the game with 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored, while Fox finished the game with 3 hits, 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Cubs clean-up hitter Micah Hoffpauir had 3 hits and 2 runs scored in the win.  Mike Fontenot also had 3 hits on the day.

Kevin Hart pitched 5 innings, working in and out of trouble all day long.  Hart only gave up 2 ER, but he surrendered 5 hits and 5 walks along the way.  Jeff Samardzija had a solid relief outing – 3 innings, 2 hits and 3 K’s, giving up a single run on Adam Dunn’s 24th HR of the year in the 7th inning.  Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the Cubs – Stevens has not allowed a run in either of his 2009 appearances.

Highlights from the weekend:

Friday night – Carlos Zambrano led the Cubs on the mound and at the plate.  Big Z pitched 5 innings of 1 run ball, and although he did not have his best stuff (4 hits and 4 walks), he had 6 K’s and did just enough to keep the Nats away from the big inning.  The only run allowed was unearned and came courtesy of a Ryan Theriot fielding error in the 1st inning.  Zambrano also hit a 2-run double in the bottom of the 2nd inning to give the Cubs their 1st lead at 2-1.  Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st HR since coming back of the DL – a solo shot in the 3rd inning to increase the Cubs lead to 3-1.  The Cubs bullpen did a solid job the final 4 innings of the game – no runs, only 2 hits and a combined 6 strikeouts from Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.

Saturday night – The Cubs rallied from a 4-0 deficit after 2 innings to win 6-5.  Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 6th inning to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead.  Mike Fontenot’s solo HR in the 8th inning gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, after Aaron Heilman got into trouble, closer Kevin Gregg ended a threat by getting through the heart of the Nationals order.  Although Ryan Zimmerman hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly that cut the Cubs lead to 1, Gregg got out of the jam and then pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning to record his 1st 5-out save of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Randy Wells did not pitch his best game – 5 innings, 4ER, 7 hits and 1 walk – but it was enough to pick up his 5th win of the season and keep the Cubs in the game to get the big win over the Nats.

The Cubs increased the record to 47-43 on the season.  With the Cards winning 2 of 3 games in their weekend series against the Diamondbacks in St. Louis, the Cubs gained ground and now trail the Cards by only 2 games in the NL Central race.  The Cubs now occupy sole possession of 2nd place, ahead of both the Brewers and Astros.

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Manager Lou Pinella Confident That Cubs Can Win NL Central

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

The 1st half of the 2009 MLB schedule had an anti-climactic ending on Sunday, as the Cubs split a day-night double-header with the 1st place Cardinals.  After winning the 1st game 7-3, the Cubs were in perfect position to sweep the double-header and move ahead into 2nd place, just 1.5 games behind the Cards.  But it wasn’t meant to be – – Randy Wells served up 2 2-run home runs to Ryan Ludwick and the Cubs offense couldn’t muster more than 2 runs against Cards starter Adam Wainwright.  With the loss, the Cubs fell back to .500 – 43-43 – and into a 3rd place tie with the surging Astros.

That being said, Manager Lou Pinella still likes his team’s chances of making a strong showing in the 2nd half of the season.  “We have to swing the bats better in the second half than we did in the first half…  We swing the bats, stay healthy, we have a good chance to win the division.  We’ve been through a lot this summer.  If we don’t we’ll see what happens.  I’m curious myself.”

Key components of the Cubs offense have been missing for good portions of the 2009 MLB season.

Aramis Ramirez missed 2 months with a dislocated right shoulder – he had been the Cubs best hitter up until the injury.

Alfonso Soriano has been a disaster after starting off the season on a tear.  Although Soriano has had 9 game-winning hits for the Cubs this season – the most on the team – his batting average is down to .233 and his on-base percentage is down to .298.  He has 14 HR’s, 33 RBI’s and 50 runs scored, but he has not hit a home run since June 7th.  Soriano has struck out 82 times and walked only 29 times.  Because of his miserable numbers, Pinella recently dropped Soriano down in the lineup and will likely hit 5th or 6th the rest of the way.

Lastly, GM Jim Hendry’s big off-season signing – switch-hitting right fielder Milton Bradley – has been a complete bust.  Bradley is batting just .243 with 6 HR’s, 21 RBI’s and 28 runs scored.  Although his on-base percentage is above his career average – .379 – he has not been the run producer that the Cubs need him to be.  Plus, because of injuries, he has registered only 210 at-bats while playing in 210 games – not a great average for a starting outfielder.  Bradley recently declared that he is back and will have a far better 2nd half than the 1st three months of the season.  This after going 0 for 1 with 3 walks in the 1st game of Sunday’s double-header and 2 for 3 with an RBI and a walk in the 2nd game of the double-header.  Woohoo – Milton is back.  He had this to say about why he thinks he will be ready to break out in the 2nd half:  “I’ve been working ever so hard to get my stroke, get my rhythm, get my eye, and to end it like that was disappointing [referring to being called out on strikes to lead off the 9th inning on Sunday night]…  I walked about 37 times today.  Suddenly, I’m going to take a thrid strike right there?  I got my rhythm, I feel good… It’s disappointing, but what can you do?  You move on.  It ain’t the first time, it won’t be the last… Don’t read the newspapers, don’t watch TV, just play.  We’ve got everything we need right here.  If we stay together in here, cut out all the outside stuff, we’ll be fine.  There’s way too much hoopla, there’s way too much talk, there’s way too much speculation.”

I like the optimism, but the Cubs have not shown any real fire this season, and I’m not sure what we should expect that to change over night.  The team seems resigned to the fact that it will lose close ball games, and when you don’t have that confidence, it’s hard to put together big winning streaks.  Last year, the Cubs played like they could win any game, even if they were losing in the 7th, 8th or 9th innings.  This year, if they’re down after 6 innings, you might as well write off the game.

Pinella had 1 more quote that summed it up best.  It also doesn’t seem like he’s really that confident that his team will be able to pull off a 3rd straight NL Central title.  Guess we’ll have to wait and see.  “I feel we’re in good position to win this division.  Two things – – stay healthy, get healthy and swing the bats.  That’s it.  We do those 2 things, we can win the second half.  Those are two big ‘ifs’ though.”

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Cubs Split With Cards – Still Trail by 3.5 Games

Posted on 13 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs and Cards split Sunday afternoon’s Day-Night Double-Header on Wrigley Field.  It could have been better, but I guess it could have been worse too.  The Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 2.5 games in the NL Central when the 2 teams started the 4-game weekend series on Friday, and after 4 games, nothing had changed.  At least they didn’t get swept.

Carlos Zambrano picked up the win in the early game as the Cubs won 7-3.

Randy Wells suffered the loss in the nightcap as the Cubs lost 4-2.

The most interesting play of the day-night, came in the 9th inning of Game 2.

We’ll have a mid-year report in the next couple of days as we have a few days off for the All-Star Break.

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Get 5-2 Must-Win Over Cards on Saturday @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs had their backs up against the wall, and they came out fighting “like cats” to earn a 5-2 must-win victory over the 1st place Cards on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs struck 1st with a 3-run 1st inning – courtesy of a Milton Bardley HBP with the bases loaded and a 2-run single by newly acquired infielder Jeff Baker – and Ted Lilly did the rest.  Lilly threw 103 efficient pitches in 8 innings of work, giving up just a single run on 4 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 4, picking up his 9th win of the 2009 MLB schedule and his 100th career-win.  Lilly will serve as the Cubs’ sole representative in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in St. Louis.  Carlos Zambrano earned his 100th career victory earlier this year.  Lilly had this to say about the win:  “It’s pretty special.  I was thinking today about the first one in New York against Oakland (2001).  Just getting that one I hadn’t even been thinking about trying to get 99 more… It’s really a cool thing.  And then you come into the clubhouse and talk to your buddies in there and they’re telling you, ‘You only got 200 more to go'”.

It got interesting in the 9th inning as Carlos Marmol only recorded 2 outs while giving up 2 hits and a walk.  After Marmol threw a wild pitch that allowed 2 base runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd base, Manager Lou Pinella yanked Marmol and brought in Kevin Gregg to close out the game.  Gregg struck out Skip Schumacher to end the threat and Gregg picked up his 16th save of the 2009 MLB schedule.

In addition to Ted Lilly, newly acquired Jeff Baker was the Cubs star.  baker had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s and turned a nifty double-play with Ryan Theriot to end a Cards threat in the 8th inning.

One bad side note – Derrek Lee left Saturday’s game in the 5th inning with neck spasms.  Lee has experienced trouble with neck spasms this year and has missed some time already.  Lee was expected to play on Sunday, but he is not in the lineup for the 12:05PM game.

The Cubs and Cards play a day-night double header at Wrigley Field on Sunday.  Zambrano will face Kyle Lohse in the 12:05PM opener, while Randy Wells will take on Adam Wainwright in the nightcap.  Go Cubs!!!

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