Cubs Sink Mariners at Ho Ho Kam
Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-out two-run single to cap a three-run 7th, and Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one-run ball, leading he Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Cactus League action before 13,002 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
Carlos Zambrano got the start for the Cubs, and went six strong innings (80 pitches - 56 strikes, 6/6 GO/FO), allowing just one run on five hits (a first-pitch lead-off HR over the LF fence in the top of the 3rd by Mariners SS Chris Woodward, and four harmless singles) and no walks, while striking out six.
The Cubs got five base-runners on board (two hits and three walks) against Mariners starter Erik Bedard over the first 2.2 IP, including a Derrek Lee double into the RF corner and a Milton Bradley linre single to LF with two outs in the bottom of the first), but could not score.
But the Cubs did manage to tie the game in the bottom of the 5th off Mariners RHRP Mark Lowe, as Zambrano led-off with a double off the RF fence, advanced to third on a Soriano fly out into the RF corner, and scored on an Aaron Miles F-8 SF-RBI to deep CF.
The Cubs then went ahead to stay in the bottom of the 6th, scoring three runs off Mariners LHRP Cesar Jimenez. Milton Bradley reached base leading off the inning on a gift double, when Mariners CF Franklin Gutierrez lost a fly ball in the sun. Aramis Ramirez then skipped a single over the shortstop's shoulder, and Geovany Soto walked to load the bases with no outs. Andres Blanco bounced a grounder off the third-baseman's glove, but was thrown out at first-base on a fine "head's up" play by SS Chris Woodward, as PR Sam Fuld scored from 3rd and the other two runners advanced. Joey Gathright walked to re-load the bases, at which point RHP Randy Messenger was brought into the game to face RH PH Reed Johnson. Cubs Manager Lou Piniella switched to LH PH Mike Fontenot, but Fontenot struck out. That left it up to Soriano, and he came through, ripping a line single to left-center that scored PR Bobby Scales and Soto.
The Cubs scored their final run in the 7th off Messenger, as Fuld rapped a sharp single to CF with one out, and advanced to 3rd when Scales lined a double over the centerfielder's head (Fuld probably could have scored, but he was held-up by Cubs third-base coach Mike Quade). Paul Bako then bounced a single through the right-side of the infield to score Fuld.
Three Cubs relievers followed Zambrano, each throwing one inning.
Carlos Marmol threw 24 pitches in the top of the 7th, striking out the side, but he also allowed a towering solo HR off the scoreboard to Mike Wilson and a single. He also hit a batter.
Angel Guzman pitched a 1-2-3 the 8th (12 pitches), featuring an L-8, a strike out, and an F-8.
Randy Wells worked the 9th (14 pitches - eight strikes), and allowed a run. Normally a strike-throwing ground ball machine, Wells threw five balls to start the inning, walking the lead-off the hitter, before getting the first out on an infield pop up on a high fastball. Wells almost got out the inning unscathed when he induced a broken bat ground ball to short that Blanco-German-Hoffpauir just missed turning for a game-ending DP, but Chris Woodward laced a two-out RBI double into the left-field corner to bring the tying run to the plate. Wells then got another infield pop up to end the game, but he definitely had difficulty keeping his pitches down today.
The key thing about Spring Training is that for players (or pitchers) competing for spots on the 25-man roster, it's really not about the player's (or pitcher's) "body of work," but rather, it's more like "how have you done lately?" So Angel Guzman throwing three straight perfect innings (nine up & nine down with four K) over the last three days carries more weight than does his previous five mediocre outings (allowing eight runs, eight hits, three walks, a HR, and an HBP over five innings).
The Cubs travel to Phoenix Municipal Stadium tomorrow and will face the Oakland A's.