Cubs Bullpen Does Not Contribute to Crushing Defeat This Time
It took 11 innings, but the Cubs walk away with their first road victory in almost a month.
Why the Cubs Won: Another good outing from the starting staff, which are 5th in the league in ERA (not sure if that is before or including tonight's game). Ignoring that the Braves are closer to the bottom than the top in NL offense and were missing their best hitter, Lilly shut the Braves out through 5 on one hit before giving up a run in the 6th. It could have been worse if not for a defensive gem by Ryan Theriot snagging a shot by Matt Diaz to his right, spinning clockwise on his knees and throwing a strike to Andres Blanco for the force out. Lilly then gave up an unearned run in the 7th thanks to his own throwing error and Chipper Jones before calling it a night. We know he could have pitched a complete game shutout if he wanted to, but he figured the bullpen needed a pick-me up from last night and gave them a chance to redeem themselves.
Marmol cruised through his inning in the 8th, Guzman pitched 2 scoreless innings (0.91 WHIP and 2.49 ERA so far) and Gregg did not throw a meatball to Jeff Francouer tonight and the Cubs end up on the right side of the a one-run game.
On offense, Derrek Lee went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and has his OPS almost up to .800 and ended up scoring the winning run. One of those walks was on a questionable check swing that would have been a strike 'em out, throw-em out double play but the Cubs caught a break. Mike Fontenot then lined a double to the base of the wall in deep center for the Cubs only two runs off Derrek Lowe.
The Cubs wasted a few opportunities until the 11th when Lee led off with a walk. Fontenot was allowed to hit away and flied to left and Lee was able to tag from first base as left fielder Matt Diaz's momentum carried him into foul territory...nice to see good baserunning for once. Reed Johnson singled just past a diving Chipper leaving runners on the corners and Micah Hoffpauir in to pinch hit as the last bat on the bench. Bobby Cox went with lefty and after going to 2-2 on Hoffpauir, the Hoff took a slider low and away and just poked into left field over Chipper Jones to score Lee and the winning run...a real nice piece of hitting.
Speaking of our pen: Reader jacos relays this brief interaction with ex-Cub Michael Wuertz at last night's A's/White Sox game:
Went to Sox game tonight against Oakland.
I went down to bullpen bar before game and sat by RF fence as A's took batting practice.
Wuertz was shagging and a ball came over by the fence.
I said "Michael, Cubs could have used you last night."
He stopped and leaned against the fence, smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
I said "you wouldn't have thrown a cock high fastball to Francour." He laughed.
And then I said "How's Oakland treating you?"
He said "They are letting me pitch here."
I said good luck and he waved and went back to shagging.
Cubs go for the series win tomorrow as Carlos Zambrano returns from his suspension.