Cubs Bats Blast Rockies 9-8
Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs and reached base four times on two singles and two wallks, Milton Bradley had three hits including a double and a solo home run, and Geovany Soto drove in two runs with a double and a sacrifice fly, leading the Cubs to a hard-fought 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies this afternoon in front of a record Ho Ho Kam Park crowd of 13,298.
The Cubs got off to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning against Rockies starter LHP Greg Smith Alfonso Soriano led off with a single down the LF line, but was thrown out 7-4 trying to stretch the hit into a double. (Although he wasn't limping, Soriano seemed to be kind of jogging throughout the game). Ryan Theriot then doubled down the LF line, and Derrek Lee busted his bat while hitting a flare into short RF,scoring The Riot from second. Milton Bradley then fisted a bloop single into right-center, sending D-Lee from 1st to 3rd, and Aramis Ramirez lofted an F-8 SF to medium-deep CF to score Lee.
Meanwhile, RHP Chad Gaudin got the start for the Cubs and labored through his two innings (54 pitches - 30 strikes), especially the 2nd, when he needed 37 pitches to get out of the inning. The Rockies got a runner as far as 2nd base in the top of the 1st but did not score, but they plated two runs (one earned) in the top of the 2nd.
With one out, Dan Ortmeier walked and advanced to second on a stolen base (bad throw by Soto, but Ortmeier held 2nd as the throw skipped into CF). Clint Barmes then ripped a single to CF to score Ortmeier, and stole 2nd (the third SB of the game off Gaudin-Soto). Christian Colonel struck out swinging, but Rockies pitcher Greg Smith reached base and Barmes moved up to 3rd when Cubs 2B Aaron Miles bobbled Smith's easy roller that should have ended the inning. Ryan Spliborghs followed with a line-drive RBI single, tying the score at 2-2.
Neal Cotts and Kevin Gregg split the 3rd inning for the Cubs in what appreared to be a pre-arranged assignment (both had pitched partial innings yesterday in Phoenix), with Cotts retiring his two hitters on just eight pitches (left-handed hitting Seth Smith on a 3-U ground out and RH hitter Matt Murton on a routine F-9 fly ball), and then Gregg got his man (Chris Iannetta) on a fly out to CF on just four pitches.
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning, scoring two more runs off Greg Smith. Milton Bradley (batting right-handed versus LHP Smith) yanked a solo HR over the LF fence with one out, and then with two outs, Reed Johnson reached base on an error (Rockies SS Omar Quintanilla booted an easy grounder hit right at him), and scored on an RBI double lined into the LF corner by Geovany Soto. Aaron Miles walked putting runners on 1st & 2nd with two outs, but PH Esteban German was called out on strikes, ending Smith's day after three innings of work.
Rookie RHP Randy Wells worked the next two innings for the Cubs (27 pitches - 15 strikes), and got five ground outs and a strikeout (Murton - swinging). He did allow a run, however, on a one-out RBI double by Colonel following a walk to Barmes in the 4th.
Rockies closer Manuel Corpas walked three Cubs in a row to start the bottom of the 4th, but (unfortunately) Soriano was thrown out trying to steal on a 3-1 pitch to Theriot (second time Soriano has done that in the last week) before Theriot and D-Lee walked. But Bradley flied out to deep CF for the second out of the inning (although Theriot was too far down toward 3rd base to be able to tag up at 2nd), and then Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging to get Corpas off the hook.
The Cubs did score three runs in the bottom of the 5th off veteran LHRP Alan Embree, however. Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto walked to lead-off the inning (the 4th and 5th Cub walks in just over an inning), and PH So Taguchi lined an RBI single to left-center to score Johnson and send Soto to second. German popped up to short left, keeping the runners at 1st and 2nd, but Soriano picked-up his reammate, ripping a double to left to score Soto and Taguchi and give the Cubs a 7-3 lead. Embree does not appear to have much left.
Jeff Samardzija pitched the top of the 6th, and had a poor outing (21 pitches - 14 strikes, 0/3 GO/FO), allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, with no strikeouts. He left almost all of his pitches up in the strike zone and the results actually could have been worse, but fortunately the outs were all "at 'em" balls.
The Cubs regained their four-run lead in the bottom of the 6th, scoring two runs off RHRP Ryan Speier. Milton Bradley smoked a double into the left-center alley, and after PR Joey Gathright advanced to third on a ground out, Reed Johnson ripped a triple into the right-center alley to score Gathright, and then Johnson scored easily on a Geovany Soto F-9 SF to deep right.
Mike Stanton made what will probably (hopefully) be his last appearance as a Cub, struggling through a 28-pitch 7th inning while trying to protect a four-run Cub lead. Dexter Fowler reached base to lead off the inning when Stanton was late covering 1st base (too bad, too, because Micah Hoffpauir made a fine stop), and then Fowler stole second. Chris Iannetta then bounced a single past SS Andres Blanco to score Fowler, and Dan Ortmeier hammered a one-out HR over the LF fence to cut the Cubs lead to 9-8. Stanton did manage to retire the last two hitters in the 7th (a 6-3 GO and an F-8 FO), but he sure didn't fool anybody in the process. I half-expected Cubs GM Jim Hendry (who sits in a front-row box seat right behind Lou Piniella and his coaches) to come out to the mound himself after the Ortmeier HR and personally take Stanton's uniform from him right then and there.
The Cubs threatened again the bottom of the 7th when Hoffpauir lined a double down the RF line into the corner, but Andres Blanco and PH Brad Snyder struck out swinging to end the threat.
Rule 5 RHP David Patton (a former Rockies minor leaguer) worked the 8th for the Cubs, protecting a one-run lead, and retiring the side on 15 pitches (getting an L-9, P-3, and F-7 while allowing a two-out walk and a SB), and then RHRP Chad Fox pitched the 9th (14 pitches).
Fox hit speedy Chris Frey to lead-off the 9th and then allowed Frey to steal 2nd (he wasn't paying attention to the runner), putting the tying run in scoring position. But the veteran retired the side on two fly outs and a game-ending strikeout (that being ex-Cub Mark Bellhorn, swinging just as hard as he possibly could at each pitch).
The Cubs get a day off tomorrow, before resuming Cactus League play at Scottsdale Stadium versus the Giants Thursday night.