Ted Lilly threw six shutout innings for the Cubs, but the Angels rallied for three runs against Kerry Wood in the 7th, and hung-on to defeat the Cubs 3-2 before a national WGN-TV audience and a capacity crowd of 12,727 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today.
Ervin Santana (LAA) and Ted Lilly (CUBS) were today's starting pitchers, and both pitched great games.
Santana retired the first twelve Cubs he faced, before Cliff Floyd broke the scoreless tie leading off the bottom of the 5th with a long and high HR that landed above the upper (visitor's) bullpen in RF. Santana finished with a line of 6.1 IP, three hits, just the one run, one walk, one HR, and three K.
Meanwhile, Lilly was tossing goose-eggs at the Halos, pitching a shutout through six innings. He benefitted from a couple of outstanding defensive stops by 3rd baseman Mark DeRosa and an inning-ending run-saving catch against the right-centerfield fence in the 1st inning by Jacque Jones.
Lilly was removed from the game after the sixth, but looked like he could have stayed on the mound and maybe gone longer. He threw no more than 14 pitches in any one inning (70 pitches total over six innings - 14-9-11-12-13-11) and had an uncharacteristic (for an extreme fly-ball pitcher like Lilly) 9/5 GB/FB, giving up no runs on four hits and one walk, with four strikeouts (Maicer Izturis twice and Gary Matthews Jr and Garret Anderson once each) and one GIDP (Shea Hillenbrand).
The Cubs led 1-0 going into the top of the 7th, but the Angels rallied for three runs against reliever Kerry Wood. Shea Hillenbrand led-off by lining out hard to Matt Murton in LF, before Erick Aybar grounded a single to the outfield. With Aybar running on the pitch, Howie Kendrick bounced what should have been a perfect double play ball to the spot vacated by Cubs shortstop Cesar Izturis (who was moving over to cover 2nd base), as the Angels used the hit+run to perfection, ending up with runners at 1st and 3rd with one out and slow-footed ex-Cub Jose Molina coming to bat. Woody did his job, enticing Molina to chop a potential easy DP ball to Mark DeRosa at 3rd base, but once again, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had his runner at 1st base (this time Howie Kendrick) on the move, keeping DeRosa from making a play at 2nd base, and allowing the tying run to score. With the inning thus prolonged, Kendry Morales yanked a Wood pitch high over the RF fence, giving the Angels a lead they would not relinquish.
For the day, Wood threw 18 pitches (12 stikes), allowing three hits and three runs (all earned), with an inning-ending K that came a batter or two too late.
The Cubs mounted a rally in the bottom of the 8th against another ex-Cub, reliever Justin Speier, who was signed by the Angels as a FA during the off-season. Cesar Izturis and Felix Pie led off by driving singles to the outfield, before Ronny Cedeno laid down a beautiful 1-4 sac bunt that advanced the tying runs into scoring position (and Cedeno has been laying down picture-perfect bunts all Spring, the ability to bunt probably being one of the elements of Cedeno's game that has impressed manager Lou Piniella). Angel Pagan and Cliff Floyd worked Speier for walks to force-in a run, bringing the Cubs to within one run of the Angels and leaving the bases loaded with just one out. But Daryle Ward grounded into a 3-6-3 DP to kill the rally, and the Cubs went down a quick 1-2-3 in 9th.
Michael Wuertz pitched the 8th and Ryan Dempster pitched the 9th for the Cubs. Wuertz alllowed a one-out walk, a SB, and ground out to move an Angel runner to 3rd base with two outs, but struck out PH Curtis Pride swinging to end his inning. Dempster had an easy 1-2-3 inning (11 pitches) in the 9th, with K-swinging (Aybar), a 6-3 ground out, and an F-8 fly ball.
The Cubs travel to Tempe's Diablo Stadium tomorrow for a rematch with the Angels, in what will be their last "road" Cactus League game. (I'm not counting the two games next weekend in Las Vegas as Cactus League games). Jason Marquis should be the starting pitcher for the Cubs.