Any other day and I would have thought of a clever title about Derek Lee, after he went 4-4 with a home run, but again, the man of the hour is Kosuke Fukudome. After losing the first game of the series to Chris Sampson, the Cubs had to face the always dangerous Roy Oswalt. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the offense came to life. Oswalt really struggled today, giving up 5 runs on six hits and one walk. Oswalt did not strike out a single Cub batter today. On the flip side, Jason Marquis was awful. He gave up five runs on eight hits, but only walked one. It could have been a lot worse as Jason was able to get himself out of a lot of jams by inducing some key double play balls. Marquis allowe the leadoff hitter to score in four of the six innings he started.
The Cubs were quickly down 2-0 when the Cubs finally got on the board in the bottom of the second. With one out, Geovany Soto hit a triple, but Ryan Theriot hit a fly ball to shallow center for the second out. Luckily, Marquis helped his own cause with an RBI double, making it 2-1. In the bottom of the third, Derek Lee hit a home run to tie up the ballgame, but Marquis gave up a lead off home run to Carlos Lee to start the fourth, putting the Astros back ahead 3-2. In the top of the sixth, Marquis gave up two more runs, and was pulled from the game. With Carlos Lee on first and only one out, reliever Kevin Hart struck out the next two batters he faced, shifting momentum back to the Cubs.
The Cubs responded in the bottom of the inning when Derek Lee hit a double. Ramirez flied out and that brought Fukudome to the plate. Noticing the corner outfielders were playing back, Fukudome hit a bunt single that moved Lee to third. With runners at first and third, Oswalt threw a pitch and catcher Brad Aus smus missed it, allowing Lee to score and cutting the Milwaukee lead to 5-3. Unfortunately Fukudome was stranded at second. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Hart got the first two Astros out, but then gave up a triple to Michael Bourn. This could have been another game changing moment, but Hart got the next batter, Hunter Pence, to fly out. After a stirring rendition of the seventh inning stretch by Ron Santo, the Cubs finally got a sustained rally going. Oswalt started the inning walking Ryan Theriot. Then, his LSU buddy Mike Fontenot hit for Hart, and reached on an infield single. With runners at first and second and no outs, Soriano grounded out to third, moving the runners to
second and third. Reed Johnson, playing center today, grounded out to short, scoring Theriot and moving Fontenot to third. With two outs and the tying run at third, D-Lee drove in Fontenot on a single, tying the game and knocking Oswalt out. Oscar Villareal came into the game and walked Aramis Ramirez. With runners at first and second and the left handed hitting Fukudome up, Houston manager Cecil Cooper went with lefty Wesley Wright. With 40,000 fans chanting “***-U-Dome, the Japanese hitter worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a double into left field, giving the Cubs a two run lead.
“I was going to swing at the first pitch, but I didn’t see a pitch I liked, so it just happened to be that way,” Fukudome said of the 3-2 count.
The best part of the game was after the Fukudome double, Cooper came back out to change pitchers and Kosuke’s teammates were all cheering him from the dugout. He smiled and pointed at them.
“He’s been our spark,” said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee. “He’s been there every day for us. The crowd’s feeding off it and we’re feeding off it. He’s great for us right now.”
Of course with the Cubs, it’s never that simple. Bob Howry came in and gave up two runs on three hits. Just like last season, he look horrible. Luckily Marmol was able to come in, strand the tying run at first, and bail out Howry. The Cubs were still up one run.
“One thing we need to do is get Howry going,” Piniella said. “Get him some more work and get him sharp. He’s a big part of the bullpen.”
Right now, I think that’s the last thing we need to do. Howry is an important part of this bullpen, but we can’t let him blow leads anymore. If the Astros would have tied it or taken the lead, it might have had a huge affect on this team. Howry’s velocity is down, and he usually doesn’t get it up there until the second half. I don’t know how much longer we can take this. Reed Johnson was able to drive in an insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth, and Kerry Wood came in and retired the Astros 1-2-3.
This was just a huge win for the Cubs. Now they have a chance to win the series with our ace, Carlos Zambrano, squares off against Brandon Backe. The Cubs should be able to keep the offense pressure on and hopefully we will get some more confidence going. I will be at the game, so hopefully I can see my first Cubbie victory of 08!
|Hart, K, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
a-Singled for Hart, K in the 7th.
|Hart, K (W, 1-0)||1.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Howry (H, 1)||0.1||3||2||2||0||0||0||16.88|
|Marmol (H, 1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.25|
|Wood (S, 2)||1.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9.00|