Soriano, Lilly Lead Cubs Over Astros

In Houston, Ted Lilly straightened himself out after a ragged beginning—four-pitch leadoff walk to Kaz Matsui, gopher ball to Miguel Tejada; Miggy's first home run in 116 at-bats this season—as , to sweep the two-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The Cubs have now won six of seven and have climbed to four games above .500 for the second time this year, heading into a weekend series in Milwaukee.

Alfonso Soriano paced the offense tonight with a pair of home runs. The second shot, coming in the ninth inning, helped break open a 4-2 game. The Cubs would go on to build an 8-2 lead before Chad Fox, just up from Iowa, allowed the home team to creep back in the game a bit. Kevin Gregg ultimately had to come in to record the final two outs and lock up the victory.

Aside from Lilly, who yielded just two runs and four hits over six innings, and Soriano, who has hit four of his nine home runs this year in Houston, other Cub bright spots on this night included:

— Aaron Heilman and Carlos Marmol, who recorded one scoreless inning apiece as the Cubs tried to hold onto a 4-2 margin. Marmol allowed a leadoff double to Tejada, before fanning Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence in order.

Marmol's last three outings have been stellar: 3 shutout innings, 5 K, no walks, 2 hits allowed and just 39 pitches needed to get through those nine outs.

— Among the position players, Aramis Ramirez (3-for-4), Ryan Theriot (2-for-4), and Micah Hoffpauir (2-for-4, including a clutch, two-out RBI single in the first inning) all had multiple hit games. Hoffpauir was again subbing for the ailing Derrek Lee.

Picked off: Ryan Theriot committed yet , getting picked off third with Aramis Ramirez at bat and just one out in the opening inning. Hoffpauir's run-scoring single removed some of the sting of Theriot's carelessness.

Chad Fox highlight: I would say that the high point of the evening for the veteran, making his first appearance since his recall yesterday from Iowa, was not getting strangled by Lou Piniella when the manager came out to replace him with one out and two runs already in for the Astros in the last of the ninth. Fox, who allowed two hits, a walk, and three earned runs in just one-third of an inning, will go to sleep tonight with an ERA of 81.00, but at least he'll be sleeping on a Major League pillow.

About our man Milton: Bradley did come through with a bases-loaded single to score a run, his first Cub RBI that didn't result from a home run. In the eighth inning, however, he took a third strike with men at second and third and none out. He looked tentative and defensive at the plate; he looked like a .143 hitter which right now, he is.




Fox did get screwed on the outfield mix-up for one of those runs. Looked like Gathright didn't call Soriano off or Soriano is deaf.

I lol-ed at this shit, Rob.


In all honesty, I believe Andrew Ladd was scoring the game-winning goal in OT at the exact moment Gathright and Soriano misplayed that fly ball—a failure in reportage on my part.

I'm going to demand that my wife allow me to buy her a tv with picture-in-picture capability for Mother's Day. It would make her so happy...though she doesn't realize it.

As far as Lou strangling Fox, I was thinking back to a shot of Lou in the dugout right after Fox had thrown his fifth consecutive ball at the beginning of that inning. Too bad Gregg couldn't get a night off when the Cubs go into the last of the ninth up six runs.

I blame Soriano, this not the first time I've see him do this. It looks like he's called off a ball he does not "peel off" from the other fielder but continues in same path which causes the other fielder to be blocked or ran into like he did to Fukudome last year.

Fer gawd's sake, when are Bradley and Soto going to start hitting? 7 more men LOB for Geo tonight. They're killing us. Quiet message to D Lee--no rush back from that neck pain, dude. Take your time. Is the Gooz in Lou's doghouse somehow? His one little X in that sidebar box looks mighty lonely. Cubs really need a 4th reliever that Lou can count on. Lefty would be ideal. Hopefully Hendry can find an AL team that needs the big bat of Jake Fox and can send back a relief pitcher. Or maybe the Cubs could just get a do-over on dumping Mike Wuertz? Because that was dumb. I nominate Joey G for the Death Watch. He's gotta go, plain and simple.

joey g is on deathwatch...he's supposedly the main choice to be sent down for wells' callup today. jg can refuse the assignment, though...but i doubt he wants to be a FA with a 800k contract hanging over his head.

Guzman was warming up last night, and has been a few times during the last few days. It seems Lou is hoping the Cubs can get a bigger lead earlier - 6th or 7th - and then let Guzman finish the game. But they haven't been able to bust out and he's been forced to use Marmol and Gregg.

He needs more than a 4 run lead before he'll trust the game to Gooz? Clearly Marmol & Gregg are the only arms he trusts out there. Personally, I would have left Fox in.

Well, Gooz was warming up in the 8th when the Cubs were threatening with runners on 2nd and 3rd and nobody out. Three straight K's ended that. So they still went into the bottom of the 8th with just a 2-run lead, thus Marmol. Since it was a 2-run game Gregg was already warming up for the 9th. Then when the Cubs busted it open in the top of the 9th, Lou went with his mop-up guy - Fox - but when he couldn't hold the lead and it got close again he brought in Gregg who was already warm.

Maybe Lou has been saving Guzman to help today if Wells struggles and he can get 3+ innings out of Guz in long relief.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin gets the axe.

Hendry listened. Gathright to AAA or gone - Scales stays. Look, if Ryan Ludwick can be a "good story", so can Bobby Scales. At least I hope so.

Hendry is definitely not afraid to cut someone loose if they aren't working, but too many of this recent moves have ended up like this: Bako, Gaudin, Vizcaino, now Gathright.

It is nice to have a $140MM payroll. It can hide many mistakes.

Sure... but most of the mistakes that Hendry has made have been very affordable mistakes. They are almost always on bench players who only were expected to play a small role on the team.

or Mark Derosa.

or Jason Marquis.

Wait, we should have kept Marquis? I think that's what Whip was saying. I agree with Dave that most of Hendry's mistakes have been on the cheaper fringe guys. We'll see what happens with Fukudome and Bradley, but his other big signings have turned out pretty well. However, he's also seriously mis-managed the roster a few times this season, has made some hasty personnel decisions, and has cost himself several million dollars, money which could have been used on acquiring a player at the deadline that could help. The chances of that now are diminished due to payroll restrictions. Which is ironic, since although that's been a complaint for acquiring guys like Peavy all along, it seems like only now is it a possible reality.

money which could have been used on acquiring a player at the deadline that could help. Has Hendry ever not been able to add someone in July because of lack of funds? The chances of that now are diminished due to payroll restrictions. I actually doubt that... I would bet that if the Cubs want someone, and have the prospects a team is interested enough in, they will be able to bring in someone at the deadline.

Maybe so. Maybe that possibility is still there. But if it isn't, and if the reason it isn't is money, then Hendry's gonna take some serious and deserved heat because of the way he's bungled roster moves thus far this season.

How was Jason Marquis a mistake?

I was using Marquis as another example of money Hendry has thrown away this year.

Yeah, this kinda misses my point. We should have kept Dero. Marquis? Happy JH threw that cat out the door.

Huh? How was Mark DeRosa a mistake?

Well, we certainly could use him right about now, don't you think?

Sure... and I didn't want to seem him go. But I understand why he was dealt, and he is also putting up (slightly) lower numbers than Fontenot right now. But I think that, for the most part, it is way too early to call the DeRosa trade (or the Bradley signing, for that matter) a mistake.

I wouldn't call Milton Bradley an "affordable mistake". It makes up for the "affordable ones".

Really? We're a month into a three year contract. You've been a little reactionary for a while now. Let's give it a little more time. For all we know, he could have an anti-Fukudome type year.

Yeah, it's a little soon to call MB Todd Hundley. One full season needs to elapse before we make that judgment. If for instance, he's still not performing near where we wanted through August and he tears it up in September and in the playoffs (PLAYOFFS??!) there's still room to give Hendry a good grade for the pickup. This is baseball. 162 games. Six full months of regular season. Judging a move by the first month of a multi-year contract is just silly.

The voices of REASON have spoken... OK, you guys are right. I will try like hell to wait until later in the year. He has talent there. I have seen it with my own eyes...

The voices of REASON have spoken... Words can hurt, E-Man. Words can hurt.

Wow! Ever seen the movie Gladiator? Bobby Scales schmoozed the Chicago sports media real good. And as we all learned from Maximus in the movie: You win the crowd, you win your freedom.

Didn't Maximus die a slave in the arena? Anyway, as we were talking about yesterday, the roster has had too many OF's and not enough infielders since Gathright replaced Cedeno. Not sure why it took a month of games to figure that out, but they finally managed it.


Yes, but he dies AFTER killing Caesar himself. If Scales suffers a career-ending injury AFTER getting the winning hit in the World Series I am perfectly fine with that.

Nice try. Personally, I think the metaphor was doomed from the beginning.

Maybe Hendry's keeping Scales around to mentor Uncle Milty a bit on how to handle the media and come across like a genuinely nice human being. If Bradley took that to heart, it would go a LONG way with the Chicago media.

#11 i would agree also guzman could be the first one in if wells struggles and lou could use him for 2 innings at least

the cubs will face jake peavy on tuesday and chad gaudin on thursday.

Reed Johnson would have made that catch that Gathright messed up. The bill of RJ's cap would have flipped up as Soriano bounced off him. Bradley also has been practicing that play (with the umpires).

now who do we have to overslide 2nd base on a steal?

peavy k'd 12 or 13 his last start. I think they still lost? the gaudin loss - meh , tough call: hevstunk the end of the year, hurt himself, and stunk in ST. The Cubs are not in a "rebuild year", yet, so I understand it somewhat.

I am kind of surprised that the results of Bradely's hearing haven't been released.

Uncle Milty is a mess -- runners on 2nd and 3rd, no outs, crap reliever on the mound, and he takes a called 3rd stike on a fastball down the middle. He looks lousy from the RH side -- maybe he should pull a Theriot and bag switch-hitting. Fun game -- try to count how many MVP trophies have been awarded to confirmed juicers since 1996: 4 for Bonds, 3 for A-Rod, Giambi, Tejada, Juan Gon, Caminiti, etc. Also -- Sammy and Pujols (2), who seem likely but are not confirmed. Pretty freaking amazing.

Also -- Sammy and Pujols (2), who seem likely but are not confirmed. Really not sure where the Pujols is a juicer idea comes from. Would it surprise me? No... but I don't recall anything linking him to any PEDs. But yea... for the most part, the MVP/PED connection is "pretty freakin amazing." Or just sad. Or just a statement that a lot of people are or were using them, along with the pitchers. Or all the above? If everyone is on them, is it really cheating?

Along with the pitchers is correct. Last night when Buehrle was flirting with the perfect game I looked up the 15 games in the modern era and found that 9 happened in the first 90 years (one of which was Koufax on a 35 foot tall mound) and 6 in the last 20. That distribution sure is concentrated.

The league has also expanded in that time, spreading out the elite talent. The perfect game is all about one great athlete dominating a whole team, which is easier to do if that team is one of 30 than if that team is one of 16 (drawing from approximately the same size talent pool). I'm not saying that's the lone cause, just something to consider.

I disagree. I believe there is a larger talent pool now that African-Americans are allowed to play, Latin American players, Japanese and Korean players...

That's true. But there were only 16 teams up until 1961. They added 14 teams since then as well as expanding the talent pool. How much larger did the talent pool get in that time? Did grow to nearly twice what it was before? That's quite possible.

It would be shocking... outrageous... and amazing if Pujols is not juicing. Deep down we all know he is. We'll find out in about 5-10 years from now, everyone will be horrified. Meanwhile, he'll retire loaded and not giving a shit. I'm to the point now where I don't really give a fuck. Juice up Theroit, juice up Fontenot. At least let's have a level playing field. Fuck, the MLBPA will protect our guys, right? In the off chance someone DOES wipe the drool from Bud Selig's mouth and wakes the sleepy guy up in the next 3 years long enough to reprimand our juicers, fuck it, go find more juicers.

And coming in to play SS, weighing in at 340 lbs, "Macho Man" Ryan Theriot!!!!!! And in to play 2B... Mike "The Snake" Fontenooooooooooo!!!!!

...Mike Fontenot enters field screaming with face paint and large snake draped around his neck...

I'm not as concerned about who cheated and who didn't—particularly because villainizing the "juicers" just distracts from the asshole millionaires behind all of it, the owners. But the juicing needs to stop for the health of athletes. The shit these guys end up taking seems likely to fuck them up for life, though they may not see the nastiest side effects until later. I'm not a doctor, though. But that's my concern. I really don't want to see Sammy have Cancer all over his body when his 50, or something like that.

I just wonder what your opinion is based on. Do think that his offensive performance is proof that he has taken PEDs? Or is it his body type? Or is there something else? If it's his performance, then don't we also have to assume that Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth were all juicers? Or does the concurrence of his offensive performance and the time period make all the difference? I'm not saying I'd be surprised if Pujols juiced. I guess I'd be somewhat surprised if he didn't at some point use a PED, even if they were just uppers while he was in the minor leagues or something like that, but that's because I think probably almost everyone in baseball has used something at some point--it's a temptation. But I don't see any solid reason to conclude that he takes and has taken steroids on a regular basis. Reason for suspicion, maybe, but not reason to be sure.

Unusually huge and bald in his ealry 20s. See "Mandarich, Tony".

Also the connection to another Tony... LaRussa. His big sluggers are typically juiced, and he seems like a total scumbag. Personally, I'd be shocked if Pujols was clean. Same goes for Ryan Ludwick.

Came out of nowhere.

I hate Pujols as much as the next guy, but that is simply not true. He hit .500 in his freshman year of high school in Missouri, he hit .660 his senior year. He then hit .461 in his only year of community college ball. He was drafted in the 13th round that June by the Cardinals, then in 2000 he was League MVP in A-Ball. He was promoted to AAA at the end of the year. He was projected to start there in 2001, but he tore up spring training and Bonilla got injured, so he made the team and of course had a 1.013 OPS and has never looked back. So while I think we can be suspicious because he is THIS good, we can't say he went from nobody to somebody great quickly like other suspicious players have. He has consistently hit the shit out of the ball basically since he started swinging a bat.


Can he play SS? No? Then fuck that shit. He's a more fragile Reed Johnson with a 3rd baseman's glove.

Dear Cub Front Office: For the love of God, stop playing in the trash and go get cleaned up, it's almost dinner time.

I wouldn't mind Freel, huge upgrade over Gathright. Play all 3 OF positions, 2b and 3b, not allergic to walking, okay speed, but probably better than stealing a base than Gathright.

Jake Fox for Freel would make some sense....

Can he still play 2nd? Because if he would push Miles into the backup SS role, I'd be okay with that. Plus if it was just Jake Fox for Freel, that'd make plenty of sense for the Cubs. But I don't see him getting much playing time in the OF while the Cubs have Reed Johnson.