Didn't we see this game yesterday?
It wasn't precisely the same -- the Cubs originally had more than a one-run lead, they actually led 5-0 -- but there was a late-inning Atlanta comeback on an extra-base hit by a lefthanded hitter.
This time, Carlos Marmol came into the game and did what he should have yesterday -- ditched the slider and relied more on his fastball, and posted his 22nd save in a 5-4 win over the Braves.
The win broke an eight-game home losing streak and "raised" the Cubs' record in one-run games to 15-30, but not after Andrew Cashner's wildness and a mental mistake by Starlin Castro turned a 5-1 game into 5-4. Castro was charged with an error on a relay throw from Marlon Byrd that allowed David Ross to score the Braves' fourth run. It appeared that Castro took his eye off the play just long enough for the ball to get away from him; Ross should have stayed at third.
All, however, ended well when Marmol got a lazy fly ball and then struck out Alex Gonzalez and Brian McCann after walking Derrek Lee to lead off the ninth inning.
Tom Gorzelanny struggled through the first couple of innings, issuing a pair of walks and not really having his command, but settled down and wound up with seven innings pitched allowing only one run and striking out nine. He evened his W-L record at 7-7 and lowered his ERA to 3.70. He is, essentially, back to the same pitcher he was with the Pirates in 2007, when he won 14 games with a 3.88 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. At age 27, he should be a solid, cost-controlled part of the rotation next year.
Maybe not so much for Andrew Cashner. He still doesn't command his pitches well and though he throws hard, he doesn't have a lot of movement on that fastball. Thus, he's either going to have to work on that if he wants to be a good major league starting pitcher, or his future is going to be in the bullpen.
Aramis Ramirez had three hits today and should have had four; a slow ground ball that Martin Prado couldn't quite field was ruled an error, a tough error on Prado. A-Ram scored twice and drove in a pair; Tyler Colvin also had two hits in his first start in what seems like forever, and Kosuke Fukudome continues to drive up his trade value. Kosuke had two hits, a walk and a stolen base; he's hitting .324 over his last ten games with four walks and four RBI. George Ofman on WGN's postgame show suggested that if he keeps this up -- and I'd keep him leading off the rest of the year -- maybe some team would take a shot at him as their leadoff man next year (even if the Cubs have to eat half the contract).
The large crowd of 41,099 was actually pretty close to that in the house; given the nice day and the waning days of summer, many people chose to come out to the ballpark. There were a fair number of Braves fans and standing room seemed fairly full, as well. Derrek Lee got another warm round of applause for his first at-bat, though not as loud as yesterday, likely from people who weren't at Friday's game. I would expect the same tomorrow... but the Braves are now finding out what we've seen all year. Lee is 0-for-7 with three K's and two walks in the two games, and he may not be the middle-of-the-order hitter they were looking for.
Believe it or not, the Cubs can win a home series for the first time in four weeks (since the Cardinals were in town) tomorrow. None of this "get a better draft pick" nonsense. Win games. Hope they can take it behind Randy Wells. And... go Bears tonight!