Alfonso Soriano set the tone early, really early. In both his, and the Chicago Cubs’ first at-bat of the season, Soriano connected off Houston starter Roy Oswalt (0-1) for his 50th career lead-off home run.
Aramis Ramirez then promptly led off the second inning with a solo blast of his own to give Carlos Zambrano (1-0) and the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
That is all the support Zambrano would need as he cruised, for the most part, through six innings before being lifted for Aaron Heilman in the seventh after allowing a single to Tejada to lead things off, followed by a walk to Geoff Blum.
Heilman promptly got Hunter Pence to ground into a double-play but then allowed Michael Bourn to knock in Tejada from third and reach base pretty much the only way he can, by chopping a ball off the ground and then using his wheels to beat out an infield single.
Neal Cotts came in and got Jason Michaels to ground out to Theriot to end the seventh.
The common perception with this Cubs team is get to the eighth inning with a lead and it’s over. Marmol came in, and sans a 2-out walk to Berkman, took care of business.
Enter Kevin Gregg. I have read a lot of flack from Marlins’ fans on Cubs’ message boards about how they hope we enjoy Gregg’s adventurous outings. The man didn’t accumulate 15 decisions last season by being boring, and tonight was no different.
Tejada led off the ninth with another single, followed by what was ruled a Geoff Blum single, though was clearly a ball Milton Bradley misplayed in right.
Bradley looked sharp in the field in the first inning, making a nice charging play to hold a runner at second and then making a great catch through the Minute Maid shadows and doubling off Kaz Matsui at second.
Gregg then got Pence (sac fly-RBI) and Bourn to fly out to Gathright in center, and pinch hitter Jason Smith to ground to Derrek Lee for the Cubs first win of the 2009 season.
Gregg picked up his first save for the Cubs and gave Zambrano his first Opening Day win in five tries.
Ryan Theriot went 1-for-2 with a sac fly in the fourth, and Micah Hoffpauir had a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth for the Cubs’ other two runs.