Saturday, July 6, 2013

Soriano Homers Difference In 4-1 Cubbie Win

Starling Marte greeted Edwin Jackson with a knock to open the first and swiped second. With an out, a wild pitch moved him to third. Cutch bounced out to the left side and a Garrett Jones grounder ended the frame. Charlie Morton lost leadoff hitter Julio Borbon to start the Cubs motor, and with two gone, he stole second and went to third on a throw by The Fort that badly missed the mark. Jordy Mercer saved Charlie's bacon by taking away a hit from Alfonso Soriano to close out the frame.

All the Bucs got in the second was a two out walk to JT. Luis Valbuena got an infield single to get the Cubs going, but a K and a line out DP to second put Chicago away. In the third, Marte was all the action - he singled with an out, stole second, and then got a little carried away and was caught trying to swipe third. Welington Castillo became the third straight Cubbie leadoff guy to reach when he singled to left, but a pair of K and a bounce out kept him anchored.

With two outs in the fourth, Pedro drilled a fastball into the seats in left center to put up the game's first run. Anthony Rizzo went the other way to open with a double; the first batters are loving Charlie today. The second kinda liked him, too, as Soriano took him deep on a hook to put the Cubbies up 2-1. Valbuena followed with a liner to right for a knock, and suddenly Morton has turned into a BP pitcher. He regrouped and got ahead of Nate Schierholtz 0-2, then hit him with a pitch. Darwin Barney slowed the bleeding with a 6-4-3 DP, and Castillo was walked intentionally. Morton escaped when Jackson bounced out to Mercer.

The Bucs went down 1-2-3 in the fifth. Brandon Inge took over at second as Walker reported discomfort in his right side; we're not sure why Clint Barmes didn't get the call, but...  Morton got ahead of Julio Borbon 1-2, but he walked him to allow a fifth straight Chicago leadoff man aboard. He stole second with an out and moved to third on a grounder. Morton tried to get a fastball on Soriano's hands, missed and caught too much plate; Alfonso dropped it in the LF seats to put the Cubs up 4-1.

Cutch dropped a soft liner into right with two down in the sixth. Perhaps preoccupied with keeping him close, Jackson lost Jones on five pitches. With Pedro up, the bullpen got the call and southpaw James Russell took the ball. He fed El Toro a diet of sliders and struck him out. Charlie got the first two Cubs, then Castillo doubled. A whiff closed out the inning.

Matt Guerrier came on for Chicago in the seventh and tossed a clean frame. Justin Wilson took over for Ground Chuck, who went six, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks and six K, laboring through much of today's outing. Wilson also tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Guerrier had no problem with the Bucs in the eighth. Bryan Morris took the bump, and gave up a walk in his inning.

Cutch opened the ninth with a single against Kevin Gregg. Jones tried to get the Bucs back in the game, but his long fly to straight center was hauled in on the track. Pedro went the other way, and flew out to the track in left. Mckenry flew out to right; too bad it took the Bucs nine innings to lift a ball.

Jackson wasn't hitting the corners or being fancy; he just kept his four and two seamer down in the zone, and the Bucs banged into 11 ground outs to one fly.

Morton made two mistakes to Soriano, one on a curve, the next on a heater, and that was the game. But he dug himself a hole by allowing so many leadoff hitters get aboard. He's still very much a work in progress, though it was encouraging that he got a 7:1 ground ball to fly ball ratio, six K and a couple of DPs.

AJ Burnett takes on Carlos Villanueva to close out the series tomorrow afternoon.

  • Cutch, Pedro, Jeff Locke and Jason Grilli were selected as Buc All-Star reps today.
  • And it's now an 11-game hitting streak for Starling Marte. 
  • Pedro has joined Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner, Brian Giles and Frank Thomas as Buccos who have cranked out 22 HR before the All-Star break. He's also tied with the Reds’ Jay Bruce for most homers among NL players since start of 2012 with 52.
  • The Bucs' 19 game streak of starters allowing three-or-fewer earned runs came to an end today.
  • The Bucs have an interesting choice if Walker's injury leads to another trip to the DL. Josh Harrison and Ivan Dejesus are both doing well at Indy, but with Barmes and Inge on the bench, they could call up Alex Presley again or the consistently hot Andrew Lambo. Lambo and DeJesus aren't on the 40 man roster, hurting their chances, and the OF'ers are both lefty, leaving Josh as the odds on favorite.

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