Well, that was the most frustrating Cubs win I can ever remember watching.
Chicago jumped on the hated Cardinals early with two runs in the first courtesy of a Hoffpauir double and Ramirez single. The Cubs added another in the second via a Fukudome sac fly to score Mike Fontenot. However, it was the second inning when the frustration started building.
The Cubs, seemingly inept at situational hitting so far this year, loaded the bases with nobody out. Soriano promptly struck out swinging at a slider so far off the plate Paul Bunyan couldn’t have made contact with his gigantic lumber. Dome then hit his sac-fly and Derrek Lee struck out to end the inning, plating only one and giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
Next came the top of the third. Zambrano who had dominated the first two innings, striking out four, fell apart. He walked Barden to lead off the inning, and then got PJ Walters, making his major league debut on the mound for St. Louis in place of the injured Chris Carpenter, to strike out trying to bunt Barden over.
Back-to-back singles by Schumaker and Rasmus loaded the bases for Albert Pujols. Zambrano slammed his glove to the ground following Schumaker’s shot up the middle and Derrek Lee nearly made a spectacular play to get Rasmus, but couldn’t hold on to the ball and everyone was safe.
Pujols then hit a sac-fly to bring up Ryan Ludwick, who sent a drive deep and gone, extending his hitting streak to 20 games, and giving the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.
St. Louis tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, before the Cubs tied it up at five with a Aramis double and Soto single. Then Zambrano gave the lead right back by letting BRIAN BARDEN lead off the sixth with a jack.
Then after getting Pujols to groundout to lead off the seventh, Zambrano served up Ludwick’s second bomb of the day, putting the Cardinals up 7-5.
To Zambrano’s credit he was a horse today, eating innings and seemingly keeping his emotions in check.
Following Robbie Gould’s seventh inning stretch performance, Fukudome led off the home half of the inning with a double to deep center. Kosuke has been tearing the cover off the ball to start the year; let’s hope he can sustain this for a full season unlike last year.
More frustration followed as D-Lee flied out and Hoffpauir struck out before Ramirez got him his third hit and third RBI of the game, cutting the lead to 7-6.
Aaron Heilman (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth and then gave way to Aaron Miles, who drew a pinch-hit, one-out walk ahead of Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, who up to this point looked like a five year old trying to hit a major league slider, blasted a two-run YAK EM! off a Chris Perez (0-1) slider to give the Cubs the 8-7 lead.
What happened next is sure to bring a bevy of questions from Kingdom Cub and the media aimed directly at Lou Piniella and who exactly his closer is. Carlos Marmol, who was warming up due to the Cubs being behind on the scoreboard before Alfie’s bomb, came on to close out the ninth.
After four strait balls to Rasmus, and hitting Pujols on the next pitch to put two on with no one out, Piniella was forced to get Gregg up and going in the 'pen. But he would not be needed on this day. Marmol went 1-0 on Ludwick before blowing three strait fastballs by him for the first out.
Carlos then got Khalil Greene to ground to Theriot, who threw to Fontenot, who turned to Lee for the game ending 6-4-3 double play.
Marmol picked up his second save of the season and the Cubs move to 6-4, pulling even with the 8-4 Cardinals in the loss column.