It looked bad. Real bad. Everything I hoped wouldn’t go wrong did. It started with Rich Hill’s one out walk, and two innings later, he was out of the game, and the Cubs were down 5-0. It looked hopeless, especially when you look at their bullpen, especially set up man Derrick Turnbow and the unbelieveable Francisco Cordero closing. Coming into this game Milwaukee was 43-1 when leading after eight innings. But these are the fighting Cubbies, and no deficit is too great.
Hill was miserable. He is struggling big time, and we needed him to pitch a good game today. He didn’t. Hill has one win in his last 10 starts, lasting just three innings. The Brewers consistently hit foul balls and made Hill throw 92 pitches — 45 in the first — matching his shortest outing of the season. But he gutted it out, and at least was able to go three. He got the first batter of the game, Corey Hart, to strike out, but then he gave a free pass to JJ Hardy. With so much pop in the lineup, you can’t give these guy free passes. Ryan Braun singled,and Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Bill Hall singled, Johnny Estrada hit a sacrifice fly, and Kevin Mench hit a three run homer. When the first inning was over, the Cubs were down 5-0.
"Five runs in the first [inning] is nice for you," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "But, still, they’ve got 27 outs left. They haven’t even hit yet. We’ve got a long way to go."
But the Cubs had a hard time against Brewer rookie Yovani Gallardo. He went six innings and struck out seven. The Cubs got to Gallardo in the fourth, when Derek Lee worked a walk leading off the inning and Aramis Ramirez doubled. Cliff Floyd followed with a ground ball to first baseman Fielder, who looked the runner back to third but then got tangled up with Gallardo and Floyd along the baseline. Lee scored. Ramirez then scored on a wild pitch, making it 5-2.
The Cubs bullpen, did not allow the Brewers to add on to their lead. Recent callup Billy Petrick and Michael Wuertz both pitch two shutout innings. Petrick has some nice velocity and has pitched well in the two games he’s pitched in. Carlos Marmol went one inning without giving up a run.
Gallardo left the game in the seventh, with the Brewers still winning 5-2. Carlos Villanueva came in to relieve Gallardo, and gave up a lead off walk to the fastest guy on the team, Felix Pie. Pinch-hitter Angel Pagan singled, and after Alfonso Soriano struck out for the third time, red hot Mike Fontenot delivered an RBI single, making it 5-3. With runners on first and second, Derek Lee lined out and Ramirez struck out to end the inning, slamming his bat in disgust at the wasted opportunity.
With the wind blowing in, and Turnbow and Cordero ready, it looked bleak for the Cubs. Turnbow walked Mark DeRosa, but got out of the inning without a problem. Then came Cordero, the major league saves leader with 27. He retired Ryan Theriot easily, but Soriano singled, keeping the inning alive. Fontenot singled, moving Soriano to third. With runners at first and third with one out, Lee hit a sacrifice fly, making the game 5-4. Then, on the first pitch he saw, a hanging slider, into the left-field bleachers. It’s the Cubs’ first walkoff homer in more than two years; Lee had the last one on May 12, 2005, against the New York Mets. The players ran onto the field and went crazy. The fans at Wrigley went nuts. The Cubs pulled another one out of their hats.
"Even with two outs, you figure you’re in good shape," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "Every once in a while something like that happens."
"You don’t want to think about going deep in that situation, just make good contact and things happen," Ramirez said.
"It was a real clutch hit — that ball was smoked," Piniella said. "That’s what a great player does at times and he got the opportunity and he got it done."
This one was a tough one to swallow for the Brewers. It was just their third loss in 15 games. With this win the Cubs cut the Brewers lead to 6 1/2 games in the division and are back at .500 for the first time since May May 10th. Getting back to that .500 mark is a huge for this team mentally. They have to keep going and not look back. The Cubs are now riding their first seven-game win streak since May 27-June 2, 2005. Tomorrow will be another tough one with Ben Sheets facing off against Sean Marshall. The Cubs are starting to develop that Cubbie swagger. It seems like everyone has confidence in each other and themselves. They are just making the right plays and not pressing too hard. As Pinella said after the game;
"It’s way too early. Our job is to continue to play good every day and win some baseball games, and stay in our hole. Once in a while, just pick up and pick your head up and see where you’re at [in the standings]. That’s it for now. Let’s continue to play and have some fun and play hard, and like I told these kids, ‘If we do those things on a regular basis, good things will happen.’"