Mark DeRosa bounced into a double play in the first inning -- the team's ninth DP of the series -- and I said to our little band in the LF corner, "Didn't we see this game last night?"
Turned out we hadn't, as the Cubs smacked out five doubles, drew six walks, had a HR from Aramis Ramirez (his 20th -- incidentally, the last time the Cubs were led in HR by someone who hit fewer than 30, in a non-strike season, was in 1992, when Ryne Sandberg led the club with 26), a solid pitching performance by Ted Lilly, and beat the Dodgers 8-2, holding on to their tenuous half-game lead in the NL Central over the Brewers, and extending their lead over the third-place Cardinals to two games after St. Louis lost to Pittsburgh, also 8-2. (Thanks, Pirates, for winning two of the first three. Go get 'em today, and then please leave your winning shoes in St. Louis.)
All of this was after a nasty little rainstorm hit the area around Wrigley Field, including drenching rain with thunder and lightning, just as the ballpark gates were opening at 5:05. It blew through in about thirty minutes and had the ground crew scrambling to put the tarp on; the Cubs were already in the middle of batting practice. (Bad news: there's a 70% chance of rain this afternoon.)
Ted Lilly didn't have his best stuff, and the Dodgers kept pecking away, getting one hit in each of the first four innings. Each time the Cubs got out of it, in the third with a wacky play when a ball bounced off Aramis Ramirez, right into the glove of Ronny Cedeno at shortstop. In the second inning Shea Hillenbrand, who has about as much business trying to steal second base as I do, was caught stealing, and in the third, he was called out on strikes. (Thanks, Grady, for sitting Andy LaRoche last night!)
The Cubs nursed their lead into the seventh, when pinch-hitter Olmedo "No-Parking" Saenz doubled in Mike Lieberthal, who had drawn a two-out walk (don't you hate those?) off Lilly. Carlos Marmol didn't seem to have his best stuff either last night, but recovered to get Rafael Furcal to pop up to end that inning. Saenz' double went over the head of Felix Pie, who slipped and fell on the wet grass in center field.
On it went into the 8th, the Cubs hanging on to that 4-2 lead, with Ryan Dempster warming up for a save opportunity.
And then the Cubs exploded and made a no-brainer out of it, a no-brainer I presume they all badly wanted and needed. The bottom of the 8th must have gone on for about 30 minutes -- I didn't time it, but it felt even longer -- and included two walks, two doubles, three singles, a hit batter, a ball thrown by Jeff Kent into about the third row behind the first base dugout, and two mid-inning pitching changes.
This gave some of the fans sitting a little closer to Dodgers LF Andre Ethier time to harass him further. Either they misread the name on his shirt or were trying to give him digs deliberately, because they were calling him "ETHER" and chanting his name in the sarcastic sing-songy way that you've probably heard many times ("EEEE-ther! "EEEE-ther!") To his credit, Ethier was a good sport about it -- maybe a bit more, as at one point I spotted him covering his face with his glove so that no one would see him laughing.
Cub fans are laughing this morning. Nice win. Keep up the good work today. The only NL games today are Cubs/Dodgers and Pirates/Cardinals, both afternoon games, so the Cubs have a chance to pick up a game on St. Louis again.
Sat with the San Diego Smooth Jazz Man again, and also brfry81, someone who says he reads BCB every day but doesn't post much, and his brother. Nice to meet you guys, and also had a brief conversation with BCB reader NO100, who stopped by in the later innings to say hi.
Onward. Hold the rain off till about 4:00, please.
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
Derek Lowe is 1-1, 3.58 vs. the Cubs in his career. The one win was this one-hit shutout on August 31, 2005. Fortunately, of the Cubs position players who played that day, only Derrek Lee, Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno are still on the team, and Lee is 9-for-20 with a double and a HR lifetime off Lowe.
Today's game is cable-only in LA and Chicago, and also at today's Mediacenter link.
MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)
MLB.com Gameday (2006 version)
MLB.com Gameday for the Pirates/Cardinals game (1:10 CT start)
Discuss amongst yourselves.