If you would have told me that the Cubs, with Carlos Zambrano going for his 13th win, would have a nailbiter against St Louis and Kip Well, trying to avoid his league leading 13th loss, I would have laughed. But that’s exactly what happened. Ryan Dempster was able to get Albert Pujols to ground out with the tying run at first base. They say a win is a win, but this game did not make me feel any better about last weekends poor offensive performance. The Cubs didn’t win this game as much as St Louis lost it. Kip Wells did suffer his 13th loss, but he had a quality start, allowing two earned runs on eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. It was just bad defense that cost St. Louis the win. The Cubs struck first, when Jacque Jones (who is this guy?!) singled to drive in Cliff Floyd. Zambrano pitched well, but threw 117 pitches i n 6 1-3 innings Zambrano, who struck out five and walked three, is 8-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 10 starts since June 2 and has allowed two or fewer runs in all but one of them. Unfortunately, couldn’t hold the lead when he gave up back to back singles to Kip Wells and Adam Kennedy in the bottom of the fifth. Skip Schumaker hit a two run triple giving the Cards a 2-1 lead. The lead didn’t last long, as the Cubs would retake it in the top of the sixth. With Lee on third and Ramirez on second with two outs, recently recalled infielder Ronnie Cendeno had a clutch single to tie the game at 2. The Cubs were able to continue their two out success in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Ryan Theriot hit a ball to Scott Rolan, who misplayed it, allowing Theriot to reach. Derek Lee walked, and "Mr. Clutch" Aramis Ramirez, hit a single to score Theriot, giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead. The Cubs added an important insurance run in the eighth, when Theriot walked, stole second, and scored on a Derek Lee single, increasing the Cubs lead to 4-2. That was important since Ryan Dempster gave up a run in the ninth, but was able to get out Pujols to ground out to end the game.
It was great seeing D-Lee back where he belongs. It makes it so much tougher to have to see Lee and Ramirez back to back. Lee was 2-4, drawing a walk, scoring a run and hitting an RBI. Ramirez was 4-5 with an RBI. Ryan Theriot continued to make things happen, and Jacque Jones keeps getting clutch hits.
The defense seemed kind of sloppy. Cliff Floyd didn’t hit the cutoff man in the fifth, allowing Adam Kennedy to advance to second. Kennedy would come around to score. Ronnie Cedeno had an error in the seventh that kept the inning alive. Worst of all was the play of Soriano. He is comingoff a bad homestand, both offensively and defensively. He had an error in tonight’s ball game, bobbled a bunch of balls, and was 0-5 at the plate. I think that it’s time to give Soriano a day off tomorrow. The Cubs could have Angel Pagan take his spot. The Cubs could have Theriot lead off, followed by Fontenot, Lee, Ramirez, Floyd, Jones, Pagan, Kendall. Have Cliff play right, Jones play center, and Pagan play left. That will give Soriano a day to get his head back together.
Mark DeRosa left the game in the bottom of the third with with left hamstring tendinitis. DeRosa has been struggling lately, but he has been a valuable player to have on the team this year. Hopefully he will be back on the field soon. With Cedeno up, they can juggle days off for Fontenot and Theriot, and DeRosa can play first, third, second, or right field. We need DeRosa back soon, especially with Daryl Ward out.
Milwaukee lost a tough game in Cincinatti on Monday night, losing 2-1 in 12 innings. They bounced back today with a 5-3 win. The Cubs are now 3 games behind the Brewers. And while they are still a great team, they don’t look as indestructable as they once did. On the wildcard front, the Cubs are 1 1/2 games behind San Diego, with Atlanta tied with the Cubs and Arizona half a game behind the Cubs.
After winning the series opener, the Cubs need to just split one of the next two games to win the series. Tomorrow, Ted Lilly goes for his 11th win against Adam Wainwright, who is 9-7 with a 4.18 ERA. Let’s see if the Cubs can put back to back wins again!