Archive for September, 2008

Havin' Some Fun!

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

It was quite a night with all the Cubbie Blue Kool-Aid and Cubbie Blue Jell-O Shooters. Whew!

Lou is shaking things up with this lineup today. Good. It will be fun to watch. I find myself appreciating Lou Piniella’s managerial prowess more and more. Go Cubs Go!

Whoa, fast start! There are Cardinals on 2nd & 3rd after only 3 or 4 pitches. Fortunately, Ryan Dempster regains his composure after taking a couple or three quick jabs. Cards take a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 1st.

Fuku leads off with a double to right center. Maybe the leadoff spot agrees with him. As they say, the view changes when you’re in front. Cedeno fans. Hoffpauir fans. Ward grounds out 4-3. Fuku dies on 2nd. Could have bunted him around. It hurts to waste an opportunity like that.

In the top of the 2nd, Looper tries to lay down a sacrifice bunt with 2 strikes, but Dempster turns it into a double play instead. Nice play, Cubbies. St. Louis leads 1-0 after 1 1/2 innings.

Kosuke gets his 2nd consecutive hit of the day to open the bottom of the 3rd, a single to right. Yoi desu (translation: “that’s a good thng”). Kosuke takes 3rd on a well executed run & hit single to right by Ronny Cedeno. Fuku scores on a Micah Hoffpauir fielder’s choice to 2nd. Lopez’ error (on the throw) keeps everyone safe. Score is now tied at one run apiece. Go Cubs Go!

Daryle Ward looks at a called 3rd strike. Mr. Ward disagreed with the call, but there are now 2 outs. Fontenot singles to right and Cedeno tries to score from 2B. A good throw from Ludwick nails Ronny at the plate, but I applaud the aggressive base running attempt. Go for it. Score remains 1-1.

Cards go three up and three down in the 4th. I hope I don’t jinx things by observing that Ryan Dempster looks very good this afternoon. After that initial 1st inning 1-2-3 punch, leading to a single run, he has looked outstanding.

**FELIX PIE INNING ALERT** Felix Pie leads off the 4th with a triple to right field. Man, that guy can run. Let’s get him in, OK? Pie scores (and yes, he was safe) on an RBI fly to short center by Casey McGehee. Good savvy base running by Felix Pie. That was his inning. Cubs lead 2-1. Wooo-Wooooo!

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Glen Hobbie is mentioned on the telecast, triggering Cubbie Dude memories. As I recall, that Cubs pitching staff included Hobbie, Dick Drott, Moe Drabowski… Ahhhh. Memories.

Izturis steals 2B after singling to center. Then Cesar tries to score on a single to right. But Kosuke nails him with a strike to Koyie Hill for the 3rd out. That defensive play by Kosuke was poetry in motion. Cubs lead 2-1 after 4 1/2 innings. Fukudome is starring in his own movie this afternoon.

Highlight of the Cubs 5th was a strong two out double to right by Micah Hoffpauir. But he died on 2B .

Jeff Samardzija relieves Dempster in the top of the 6th, and he acquits himself well. The Cards go three up and three down.

**BIG INNING ALERT** Fontenot walks to lead off the Cubs 6th. Let’s get him around. Pie singles to right, with Fontenot taking 3rd. No outs. Casey McGehee singles to center, scoring Fontenot. Cubs have runners at 1st & 2nd with no outs. A Koyie Hill sac bunt moves runners to 2nd & 3rd with 1 out. Pie tags up and scores on an RBI foul out to left field by Jim Edmonds (pinch hitting in the pitcher’s spot). Once again, good base running by Felix Pie. Fuku grounds out to end the inning and strands McGehee at 3B. Cubs take a 4-1 lead into the 7th.

Chad Gaudin is pitching for the Cubs in the 7th. He, as opposed to Dempster & Samardzija, does not look sharp as he walks Troy Glaus. Well, maybe he was just deliberately pitching around Troy, as he then strikes out Nick Stavinoha. Chad is not getting any help from the home plate ump and walks Jason LaRue. That’s two walks out of 3 batters faced. First the catcher, then the pitching coach go out to have a talk with Gaudin. Gaudin settles down, retiring the next two batters and getting out of the inning with no runs scored. Nice job, Chad.

Jim Belushi and the Wrigley Field Grounds Crew lead the 7th inning stretch entertainment. Their performance is very well received by the crowd. Cubs lead remains 4-1.

Cedeno leads off the Cubs’ 7th against reliever Kyle McClellan with a double down the right field line. Ronny has looked good today, both fielding and hitting. Hoffpauir walks, but Ward hits into a double play. Cedeno’s at 3rd with 2 out and, lo and behold, he scores on a Kyle McClellan wild pitch. Thanks, Kyle. Cubs lead 5-1.

Randy Wells is pitching for the Cubs in the 8th. Impressively, Wells gets Pujols to hit into a 5-4-3 inning ending double play. Good show, Randy. Cubs lead 5-1.

Jason Motte is pitching for the Cards in the 8th. He’s slingin’ heat in the 97-98 MPH range, as he strikes out the side. Impressive. Very impressive.

Bob Howry is in to pitch for the Cubs in the 9th, and he closes it out with no damage. Cubs win their last home game of the 2008 regular season 5-1.

I gotta say, that is not the final result I envisioned when I saw the starting lineup. My first thought was that the Cards would be the ones havin’ some fun today. And, for the 1st two or three batters, they were. But, surprise surprise, the Cubs’ “B” team gits ‘er done. There is definitely some depth to this Cubs roster.

We were all havin’ some fun this weekend, so my personal sound track for the next 24 hours will feature “Havin’ Some Fun” by the Bob Mintzer Big Band.

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Wrap It Up, I’ll Take It!!!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Top 1st: Soriano was caught daydreaming in LF as Ludwick’s fly ball sailed over his head for a double. Good pick up out of the dirt by Dee Lee on the throw following Puhols’ grounder to SS. Lopez looks at strike 3. No score.Bottom 1st: Dee Lee pounds a double off the deep center field wall. No score.

Top 2nd: Glaus goes down swinging. The Fox TV announcers are definitely out of towners. Touristas. Navy Pier. Rush Street. I can’t listen. There’s a 5-7 second delay on the telecast. So Pat & Ron tell me what just happened, and then, 5 seconds later, I see it on TV. It’s like Deja-Vu all over again on every pitch. Interesting effect.

Bottom 2nd: **BIG INNING ALERT** Edmonds drives one high off the left field indent, and cruises into 2nd with a double. Soto walks. The Cubs have runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs. DeRose hits into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, leaving runners at the corners with one out. Fuku walks on 4 pitches to load the bases. Joel Pineiro is throwing a lot of balls. Lilly goes down swinging. 2 out. Soriano lines a hit to LF which Barton flubs. The ball rolls to the wall. Three runs score and Alfonso lands on 3rd base. Theriot flies out to right. Score is 3-0 Cubs after 2 innings.

Top 3rd: Catcher Jason Larue leads off the inning which begs the question: Whatever has happened to Yadier Molina? I mean, I know what happened, but not what’s happened since then. Ted (“The Human Steamroller”) Lilly must have really banged him up. With one out, Izturis bounces a single over Lilly’s head. Theriot grabs it but has no play. Ludwick grounds into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Cubs lead 3-0.

Bottom 3rd: Cincy leads Milwaukee 1-0 . I think LaRussa addressed the Molina situation on FoxTV just now, but I wasn’t able to get the sound on in time. What did he say? Cubs lead the Cards 3-0.

Top 4th: Spectacular play by Ramirez & Dee Lee to get Pujols out. No runs scored. Nevertheless, I’d feel better with 10 More Insurance runs (IFBWTMIR).

Bottom 4th: **BIG INNING ALERT** Soto gets to 1st on an error by Troy Glaus at 3rd. DeRosa slams an RBI double off the indent vines in left. Soto scores. Cubs lead 4-0. DeRosa advances to 3rd on a ground out by Fuku. One out. DeRosa scores on a squeeze bunt by Lilly who is safe on the play. Cubs lead 5-0. The Cubs really executed the squeeze play well there. Does that one qualify as a “suicide squeeze”?

Top 5th: Three up and three down. Cubs lead 5-0.

Bottom 5th: Aramis singles to left with 1 out. But Edmonds’ 4-6-3 double play ends the inning. Cubs lead 5-0. **IFBWTMIR**

Top 6th: **BIG INNING ALERT** Izturis singles to center. Ludwick goes down swinging for the second out. Pujols gets to 1st base on Lilly’s 1st walk of the game. Runners on 1st & 2nd with 2 out. Cards execute a successful double steal. Runners on 2nd & 3rd. Lopez gets an infield RBI single to short. Troy Glaus slams a 3 run HR to left. Cubs lead 5-4. Ron Santo needs Oxygen. Barton grounds out to end the BIG INNING. Cubs lead is cut to one run: 5-4. As Ferris Buehler once said: “Life comes at you fast…”

Bottom 6th: Soto gets on with an infield single to 3rd. Soto is out by a mile trying to get to 2nd base. Two out. Did Fuku miss a hit & run sign? Fuku goes down swinging. Not Fukudome-san’s most stellar at-bat. (IWFBWTMIR)

Top 7th: Josh Phelps, pinch hitting for Pineiro, is called out on strikes. Jason Larue goes down swinging. Cesar Izturis grounds out to short to end the inning. 3 up and 3 down. I suspect Ted Lilly is through for the day. But he finishes on a classy note.

Bottom 7th: Fontenot, pinch hitting for Lillly, grounds out to 1st. Soriano flies out to right, and Theriot goes down swinging. Three up and three down.

Top 8th: **BIG INNING ALERT** Carlos Mormol is pitching. Ludwick, Pujols & Lopez are due up. The umpire is not calling strikes for Carlos. Three straight balls called. Two straight strikes. Full count. Ludwick flies out to center. Cincy is leading Milwaukee 3-2. Pujols pops out to 2nd. 2 out. Cincy takes a 4-2 lead over the Brewers. Lopez grounds out 3-1. Very solid relief performance by Carlos Marmol. Cubs lead 5-4 and are 3 Cardinal outs away from VICTORY!!

Bottom 8th: Dee Lee fans. One out. Ramirez fans. Two out. The ump is calling strikes on Edmonds. So, having no other choice, Jim Edmonds swings and grounds out 4-3.

Top 9th: **BIG INNING ALERT** Kerry Wood is pitching. We are three outs (and one run) away. Troy Glaus walks. The tying run is on 1st base. The pinch runner is cut down at 2nd base on a 4-6 fielder’s choice. One out, tying run on first. Schumaker looks at strike 3. A thing of beauty. Two out. Pinch hitter Aaron Miles flies out to center field for the 3rd and final out. Cubs win the game, (5-4), and take the division title.

I’m hearing The Fabulous Thunderbirds: “Wrap It Up, I’ll Take It!”

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Now It Makes Sense

Friday, September 19th, 2008

The Cubs and their fans lost a ball game today. Carlos Zambrano lost a grandmother. I’d say Carlos suffered the greater loss.

Most of us get to do our grieving in private. Carlos had to do his on the mound in front of a live audience of 40,000 +. And many more than that in TV and radioland.

We all knew something was wrong.

It was a beautiful day for a ballgame, for a ballgame, today.

Carlos Zambrano was on the mound, throwing to Henry Blanco. Schumaker led off with a double to left. Ludwick blooped a single to right. Pujols ripped an RBI single to left. Felipe Lopez walked to load the bases. Troy Glaus flew out to short center for the 1st out. Adam Kennedy pounded a grand slam homer to left. Just like that the Redbirds led 5-0. What’s wrong with this picture?

Somehow Carlos got shortstop Aaron Miles to ground out to Derrek Lee with Z himself covering 1st for the 2nd out. And somehow Z got Cards’ pitcher Adam Wainwright to look at a third strike to end the top of the 1st inning. We all knew something was wrong.

Catcher Jason Larue led off the 2nd inning with a ground rule double into the left center vines. Skip Schumaker flied out to left for the 1st out. The runner held at second. Z walked Ludwick. Ball 4 was outside by a mile. Everybody knew something was wrong.

Pujols grounded out 4-3, advancing the runners to 2nd & 3rd. A wild pitch got by Blanco, advancing the runners. Score is 6-0. Lopez singled to right, scoring Ludwick. Score is now 7-0. Troy Glaus walked with 2 outs. Lou pulled Zambrano.

That nightmare scenario actually happened. It didn’t make any sense at the time. Now it makes all the sense in the world. You can’t fool Mother Nature.

Although Carlos Zambrano was off the field, the echoes of his grief reverberated around Wrigley Field for the rest of the afternoon. We all knew something was wrong.

Both teams went through the motions in the third inning. But it wasn’t gonna happen. It couldn’t happen.

By the 4th inning Lou was auditioning pitchers. And both teams kept valiantly trying to fool Mother Nature. Make believe nothing is wrong. Play it off.

In the 5th inning Lou brought in The Understudys. Blanco & Fontenot were the only Cub starters remaining. Tony LaRussa followed suit shortly thereafter.

For the rest of the nine innings, the score was pretty much beside the point. As Lou said in the post game interview: “It looked like a Spring Training game”.

I do have one question about the rest of the game though. According to MY scorecard, Ryan Ludwick, batting in his #2 spot, grounded out 4-3 to end the top of the 6th inning. And to start the top of the 7th, Brian Barton, batting in Ludwick’s #2 hole, went down swinging. Where I come from that’s called “Batting Out Of Order”. Let me put it another way. A batter, batting in the 2nd slot of the batting order, cannot make the final out of one inning (the 6th) and then lead off the next inning (the 7th). Not even if you substitute a different player in that spot. I think that’s a no no.

Of course, by the 6th and 7th innings I was reeling almost as much as Carlos was. So maybe I missed something. I would like an explanation, though.

OK, I’ve explained how the outcome of this game had pretty much become meaningless due to factors beyond anyone’s control. I believe that’s referred to as being “overtaken by events”.

Here’s the important thing, however.

Lou is planning to start Z again in 5 days come hell or high water. Just like nothing happened. “Get over it!”

But just like a runner can’t run a marathon on a broken leg, Carlos won’t be pitching any more no hitters on a broken heart. You can yell all you want. Carlos can give it his best shot, and no doubt he will. He sure did today. But he’s not a robot. I’m glad he’s human.

I know where Lou’s coming from, too. And maybe in 5 days Z will be able to come back stronger than ever. I’m confident that eventually he will. I just don’t know when that will be. He’s been carrying this team for some time. Now we are gonna have to carry him for a while.

Karla Bonoff wrote a song called “Goodbye My Friend”. I’m listening right now to a version recorded by Keali’i Reichel to honor HIS departed grandmother. The words start off like this:

“Oh we never know where life will take us
I guess it’s just a ride on the wheel
And we never know when death will shake us
And we wonder how it will feel

So goodbye my friend
I know I’ll never see you again
But the times together through all the years
Will take away these tears
It’s O.K. now
Goodbye my friend.”

and it ends like this:

“But I’m O.K. now
Goodbye my friend
You can go now
Goodbye my friend”

Hang in there, Carlos.

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Interview with Mark DeRosa

Friday, September 19th, 2008

We’ve got a scheduled audio interview with Mark DeRosa today at 11am EDT. As soon as we have it in MP3 format, we’ll post it on the site for you to listen to. Feel free to submit questions in the next hour or so.

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The Worm Has Turned!

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Rich Harden walks the first 2 batters. This is starting to look like Deja-Vu all over again. Lordy, I’m sorry for that one there…

Bad decision by Mark DeRosa. Brewers lead 1-0. Oh man, another walk. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

The Cubs go 3 up and 3 down in the 1st. Cub batters are not instilling fear into opposing teams lately.

On the other hand, Harden now has 5 Ks in a row. That’s something to admire.

Edmonds bangs a homer to left center. I remember seeing him do exactly that many times when he was playing against us. Score tied 1-1.

Harden seems to have regained his groove. He fans Fielder to end the 3rd.

Soriano walks with 2 outs. A split screen showing the runner and the batter simultaneously would be of interest here. Soriano is thrown out trying to steal 2nd base. How ‘bout a replay of the tag at 2nd base?

Aramis lines one into the left field bleachers. Cubs lead 2-1. I would feel better with 10 more insurance runs (IWFBWTMIR).

And there goes Harden’s no hitter. The Brewers get no runs and strand 3 runners in the top of the 5th. Be still my heart. Harden didn’t seem to have his best control today, but the scoreboard shows only 1 run for the Brewers (to this point). And he allowed only 1 hit in 5 innings.

Soto is called out on strikes. Pitch Tracker shows the ball never crossed the plate. I like Pitch Tracker. Doesn’t help Geovany, though.

Mark DeRosa boots a routine double play ball which would have ended the Brewers 6th. Of course, you can’t assume a double play. Brewers tie the score 2-2. Brewers take the lead 3-2. Brewers lead 4-2. Right handed Randy Wells comes in to pitch. Please stop the bleeding. Brewers lead 5-2. 3 outs. Time for the Cubs’ bats to come to the rescue. Or not. We’ll see.

Cubs do nothing in the bottom of the 6th. Having toasted Yost seems to be working for the Brewers as we move into the 7th.

And we’re treated to one of the worst renditions of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the history of mankind. With correspondingly bad results for the Cubs offense in the 7th.

OK, Cubs hitters. We need at least 3 runs and you’ve got only 6 outs to get ‘em. Fuku fans with one out. Pinch hitter Fontenot walks. Soriano fans. Well, it’ll be up to Theriot, Lee & Ramirez in the 9th. Cubs have 3 hits in the game so far.

Neal Cotts comes in to pitch the top of the 9th. He throws one pitch to Fielder which results in a double off the left field wall. That’s it for Cotts. I say Fielder has a heart attack before the end of the season. All that wiggles is not Jell-o.

Randy Wells has glue on his fingers. Brewers’ lead is 6-2. Cory Hart tries to advance to 3rd base when a pitch gets away from Geo. He is safe at 3rd. Fortunately for us, however, Hart is called out ending the top of the 9th.

Bottom of the ninth. Aramis hits a 2 out double. Edmonds gets an RBI base hit up the middle. Score is 6-3. DeRosa’s single puts Cubs base runners at the corners. The tying run is at the plate. His name is Geovany Soto. Soto jacks a 3 run homer to left. Score is 6-6. We have a new ball game. And Fuku grounds out to end the inning.

Marmol is pitching in the top of the 10th. 3 up 3 down. 2 Ks. On to the bottom of the 10th. The worm has turned!

Three up and three down. McClung strikes out the side. Kerry Wood comes in to pitch the top of the 11th.

K. Wood strikes out the side. Culminating with Prince Fielder. Again. That’s the kind of deja-vu I like. Come on, Cubbies. Any kinda run‘ll do.

Dee Lee fans. Ramirez walks, ending a string of 9 continuous strike outs for both sides. The winning run is on base with Edmonds up and 1 out. Edmonds gets tossed out of the game for noticing that the 2 strikes called on him were, in fact, balls. Pie hits into a fielder’s choice. 2 outs. DeRosa singles to left, pushing Pie to 3rd. Meanwhile, Howry is up in the Cubs bullpen. DeRosa takes 2nd base. Soto flies out to end the 11th inning.

Kerry Wood comes back out to pitch the top of the 12th. JJ Hardy singles up the middle. Cory Hart doubles to left center. Brewers have runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Counsell grounds out to 2nd. Runners hold. 1 out. Grounder to Ramirez, they get the lead runner out. 2 outs. Runners on 1st & 2nd. Third out Theriot to Lee. No runs cross the plate. That was good!

Carlos Villanuevo is pitching in the bottom of the 12th. Darryl Ward is swinging at air. Amazingly, Ward walks. Marquis runs for him and represents the winning run on 1st with no outs. Reed Johnson sac bunts the winning run to 2nd base with one out. Alfonso draws an intentional walk. Runners on 1st & 2nd with one out.

Theriot flies out to right. Marquis tags up and advances to 3rd with 2 outs. Smart base running, Jason. Soriano takes second base. He cannot score, but now the possibility of a force out at 2nd base has evaporated. Dee Lee singles up the middle, driving home the winning run. Cubs win 7-6. Dee Lee baby!!

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. That was an exciting finish!

Kerry Wood gets the win. Go Cubs Go!

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Your Playoff Roster?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

As we come down the stretch, who would you put on your playoff roster?

Personally, I think Marquis pitched himself off the roster for good last night, but he could be used out of the pen. There’s been discussion on Pie over Edmonds, as well. I think we’ve riden the Pie train before, and Edmonds has helped get us here. Keep him on!

Then there’s Joe’s favorite, Bob Howry. Good lord, what to do with him?

Let’s discuss before the Cubs get that magic number down to two, this afternoon.Feast of Love ipod Xtro II: The Second Encounter release

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Turn Out The Lights

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Turn Out The Lights by The Cubbie Dude 17 September 2008

Can you believe it?? I’m located smack dab in the middle of Chicago & Milwaukee & I can’t get this game on TV. ESPN is blacked out by Time Warner Cable. How can this be? The blue screen informs me that the game “can be seen on WMLW” whatever that is, but I’m not seeing it. I’ll be relying totally on WGN radio with Pat Hughes & Ron Santo. No offense, but it’s not the same. I was planning to listen to them anyhow, cause I can’t stand the guys on ESPN, but I thought I’d have a chance to see the game too. BOOOO!!

Mike Cameron steals 2nd base. Pat & Ron say he was out. I’ll never know. Instant replay might be useful in a case like this.

Marquis gave up a hit to the lead off hitter, Cameron, and walked the next two. Now Fielder hits a 3 run double to right field. Still no outs. 3-0 Brewers. Is it too early to say I have a sinking feeling about this?

And the Cubs go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 1st.

The Brewers go 3 up – 3 down in the 2nd. Things are looking up.

ARam homers to left. Now we whittle back that lead. 3-1 Brewers. When asked in the pregame show tonight, Billy Williams named Aramis Ramirez as his pick for MVP. I can see why.

Fielder walks on a pitch that Ron Santo says was right down the middle.

Sheets is gone? After 2 innings? Hmmmmmmm. Theriot’s called out on strikes. Santo says the pitch was 4 inches outside.

Angel Guzman makes a relief appearance for the Cubs. Ronnie says: “Pay attention to the runner at 1st”. He Ks the 1st batter he faces. He’s blowing fastballs at 96 MPH. Guzman gets the Cubs out of a jam. Sounds like the Cubs have a good thing in Mr. Guzman.

We head into the 7th with the score remaining 3-1 Brewers. Maybe I spoke too soon regarding Angel Guzman. He hit the 1st batter of the inning and gave up hits to the 2nd & 3rd. Score now 4-1. Now 6-1. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

Kevin Hart comes in and hits his 1st batter. Not looking good.

The Cubs strand 2 runners in the bottom of the 8th. Maybe it’s a blessing that I’m not able to see this.

And, mercifully, the game ends. Cubs lose 6-2.

In the post-game interview Lou allows that the 2 walks in the first inning “didn’t help”.

Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all. We’ll put this one behind us and move forward. Tomorrow afternoon Rich Harden gets it done.

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Zambrano No-Hitter to be Re-Broadcast

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

From cubs.com:

Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter from Sunday is going to be replayed in its entirety on WGN-TV on Friday at 10 p.m. CT

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C.C. Riders

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The Cubs rode Mr. C.C. Sabathia hard tonight, climbing on him early & often and handing him his first loss as a Brewer.The Cubs pulled it off with a combination of good pitching, good fielding and timely hitting. And, as Bob Brenly pointed out, scoring that 5th run in the bottom of the 8th was HUGE!

The Cubs’ bats did what they had to do to take a win. Alfonso Soriano jump started the Cubs offense with a lead off double. Theriot moved him to third and Dee Lee drove him in with a double of his own. The Cubs scored 4 runs off the previously unbeaten CC Sabathia and never trailed in this game.

Ryan Dempster pitched 6 innings with 9 Ks, 1 BB, 7 Hits and 2 earned runs. Howry & Cotts held things for Carlos Marmol who was solid in relief, despite allowing one 4 bagger.

And Kerry Wood closed the game successfully after allowing one run to score in the 9th.
To end the game Wood struck out Prince Fielder with a world class breaking ball/slider right over the plate. A thing of beauty.

This was Ryan Dempster’s 16th win of the season. The Cubs’ magic number is 4.Every Little Step the movie Blueberry move

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