Cubs Win Second in a Row
The Cubs take a nail-biter from the Reds to open their series, winning their second road game in a row.
Why the Cubs Won: Well, Joey Votto is on the disabled list, that probably helped a lot. The Reds offense wasn't much before that and Votto has killed the Cubs in his brief career. Zambrano looked good though, no-hitting the Reds through four and a third. He got into a bit of trouble in that fifth inning with runners on the corners and one out, but got Micah Owings swinging and Jerry Hairston Jr. to fly out to end the threat. Z finished with 6.2 IP and runners on first and second before giving way to Angel Guzman who got the hold when Johnny Gomes grounded out to Ryan Theriot for the force.
That set-up Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg for the eight and ninth and they did their job - I suppose - although it certainly wasn't pretty. After a leadoff walk to Hairston Jr. and ground out by Chris Dickerson, Marmol left a fastball over the plate to Brandon Phillips that was ripped to left center. The scorer graciously awarded a triple to Phillips although Alfonso Soriano probably should have been able to cut it off in the gap. Phillips did a bit of showboating, stopping his slide short of third base, jumping up and clapping his hands together and then slowly taking the final step to third base as Soriano's throw was way off the mark. Now only up 2-1 with the tying run on third and less than two outs, Marmol got Lance Nix to pop up before walking Ramon Hernandez. He got the hold though by making Jay Bruce look silly on a few sliders before finally grounding out.
Kevin Gregg then got the benefit of facing the bottom of the order and retired the first two Reds before finally throwing one too many sliders to pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan who singled to center. After going down 3-0 on Hairston Jr., the count worked back to 3-2 and Hairston Jr. chased strike three but for the second time in a week, Gregg fell victim to the dropped third strike. Koyie "Three-Finger" Hill lazily tried to back-hand the ball instead of moving his body to try and block it and with the runner going, the Reds had runners on the corners. Two pitches later though, Chris Dickerson mercifully popped up to third base to end the game.
The Cubs worked Micah Owings to over 30 pitches in the first including three walks one of the bases loaded variety to force in the first run of the game. The only other offense for the Cubs was by big Z himself who struck out his first time at-bat from the left side. He switched to the right side in his second at-bat and launched one out to center field. It's unclear whether there was an injury or he'd just been talking to Andres Blanco.
Armchair Managing: Lou pretty much played this one by the book, although I'm not sure why he didn't just pinch-hit with Reed Johnson for Micah Hoffpauir in the top of the 8th with lefty Arthur Rhodes pitching. Hoffpauir was removed in the bottom half of the inning for defensive purposes as is and Marmol wasn't going to go two innings tonight.
Cubs face rookie lefty Mike Maloney tomorrow and Bronson Arroyo on Sunday, thus missing Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang and the injured Edinson Volquez on top of Joey Votto and Edwin Encarnacion being on the disabled list. It feels like a good time for a sweep.