Archive | Carlos Marmol

Cubs Looking to Put Florida Trip in Rear View Mirror

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs randy wells1

The Cubs are looking to put the disastrous Florida weekend series behind them.  Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol cost the Cubs 2 wins in Miami, and kept the Cubs from taking the 1st place lead in the NL Central back from the Cardinals.

Let’s take a quick look at some numbers.

Starting pitchers:  in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Rich Harden gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings of work (he also had 11 K’s); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win,  Carlos Zambrano lasted only 3 innings because of a lower back strain, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, Ryan Dempster gave up 0 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work.

Relief pitchers: in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Carlos Marmol gave up 3 runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in just 2/3 of an inning of work (the rest of the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of work); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Kevin Gregg blew the save in the 9th inning by giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 1 painful inning of work (Jeff Samardzija had a shaky 1 2/3 innings giving up 3 ER, but the rest of the bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings) ; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, the bullpen gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 1/3 innings of work with Gregg blowing the save for a 2nd straight night and taking the loss after giving up back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning.

The starters kept the Cubs in the games, but the bullpen imploded in each of the 3 games.

The Cubs bats weren’t all that hot either – if you take out Saturday’s 9-run, 13-hit barrage, the Cubs mustered only 4 runs and 13 hits combined in the Friday and Sunday losses.  Not good…

Manager Lou Pinella cannot be pleased with what he saw from his club in the 3-game weekend series loss in Florida.

The Cubs are 55-48 and they trail the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies by 2 games each in the NL Wild Card race.

But now for the good news.  Randy Wells gets the 1st start of the series against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Wells has been one of the most consistents Cubs’ starters all year and he beat the Reds at Wrigley Field on July 24th, allowing just 7 hits and 3 ER in 6 innings of the Cubs 8-5 win.  Overall, Wells is 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

The Reds are in a tailspin – they have lost 9 of their last 10 games – and have dropped into a tie for last place in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds are 14 games under .500 at 45-59.

And with the Cards idle tonight, a Cubs win over the Reds would mean a tie for 1st place in the NL Central.

Go Cubs!

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Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol Unreliable in Cubs Disastrous Weekend in Florida

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Marlins Baseball

Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg had awful weekends in Miami as the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 to the Florida Marlins.

Marmol took the loss on Friday night, giving up 3 earned runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in the bottom of the 8th inning.  The game was tied at 2 when Marmol came in, and promptly lost the game for the Cubs with a mere 22 pitches, this after Rich Harden, John Grabow and Aaron Heilman held the Marlins to just 2 runs over the game’s first 7 innings.

In Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Marmol and Gregg each did their best to blow it for the Cubs.  With the Cubs leading 6-5 in the 8th inning, Marmol replaced Angel Guzman and immediately got into trouble by walking the 1st batter and hitting the next.  After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Marmol intentionally walked Jorge Cantu to set up a force play at any base.  Then Marmol buckled down by striking out Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida to end the threat and preserve the tenuous 1-run lead.

The Cubs tacked on 2 much-needed insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning to increase the Cubs lead to 8-5.  Gregg came on for the “easy” save, but after striking out the 1st 2 batters in the inning, Gregg self-destructed.  Gregg surrendered a pinch-hit home run to Ronny Paulino (his 1st career pinch-hit HR), issued back to back singles to Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson, and then served up the game-tying triple to Emilio Bonifacio that tied the game at 8.

Gregg picked up right where he left off on Sunday with another atrocious outing.  Jake Fox had just given the Cubs the 2-1 in the top of the 9th inning with a lead-off home run to left field.  In came Gregg for the “easy” save and he even retired the lead off hitter Hanley Ramirez on a popout to 3rd base.  But then Gregg served up home runs to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross on back-to-back pitches, and just like that the Cubs had lost 3-2.

If not for Derrek Lee’s solo home run in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday, we could be talking about a 3-game sweep by the Marlins.

Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are going to need more consistent outings from  Marmol and Gregg if they expect to make a run at the playoffs in 2009.  Marmol has more electric stuff than Gregg, so at this point, if Gregg has 1 more bad outing (or if his velocity continues to hover in the high 80’s/low 90’s instead of the mid-90’s), I really think Lou is going to have to make a move.  Marmol should be the Cubs closer, with Angel Guzman moving into the set-up role.  Guzman has a 2.36 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP and if he continues to stay healthy, he is probably the Cubs most reliable reliever at this point.  Sean Marshall has been solid in the pen and the addition of John Grabow gives the Cubs 2 dependable lefties.  Aaron Heilman is serviceable, and the Cubs may want to consider bringing Jeff Stevens back up to replace Jeff Samardzija (who has been average at best).

The Cubs are now 55-48 and 1/2 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.

Cubs Marlins Baseball

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Cubs Road Woes Continue – Lose to Marlins 5-2

Posted on 31 July 2009 by Lou

The Cubs road woes continued as they fell to the Marlins 5-2 in Florida, falling to 21-28 on the road during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Carlos Marmol took the loss, giving up 3 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning with the game tied at 2.  Rich Harden had pitched 5 solid innings, giving up just 2 ER while striking out 11.  The Cubs were held to just 7 hits and 2 runs after scoring 12 runs in each of the last 2 games.  Jake Fox accounted for the Cubs onoly runs of the game with a 2-run game-tying home run in the 7th inning.

The Cubs started the big 10-game road trip with a 54-46 record and a 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL central.  After 2 more games in Florida, the Cubs play 3 against the Reds in Cincinnati and 4 against the Rockies in Colorado.

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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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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.

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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?

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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.

Cubs Nationals Baseball

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Cubs Beat Nationals 6-3 to Open 2nd Half on High Note

Posted on 17 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Nats 6-3 at Nationals Park in Washington DC on Thursday night.  The win moved the Cubs within 3 games of the idle Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central. Rich Harden evened his record at 6-6 with a solid outing – 6 innings,  3 hits, 7 K’s and most importantly no walks.  The only run Harden allowed was an unearned run in the 6th inning.  Angel Guzman and Carlos Mamrol each worked scoreless innings of relief and Kevin Gregg closed out the game despite giving up a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the 9th inning.

Derrek Lee kept up his hot hitting.  He went 3 for 4 with a solo home run.  Reed Johnson had 2 hits and an RBI in the leadoff spot.  Ryan Theriot had only 1 hit, but 2 RBI’s.

Let’s hope the Cubs can pull off 3 more wins against the lowly Nats the rest of the weekend.

Cubs Nationals Baseball

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