If you are going to break out of a slump, do it in impressive fashion. That’s exactly what Anthony Rizzo did tonight as he blasted two monster home runs, each two run shots and that’s all the Cubs would need. Scott Feldman and company made those four runs hold up the rest of the way for the Cubs second win in as many games, the first time they have done that all year. Scott Feldman worked out of a couple jams thanks to some slick defense, the biggest play might have been Darwin Barney saving a throwing error and turning into a double play in the third inning. Shawn Camp also faced some trouble in his inning of work but once again was able to wiggle off the hook. Heading to the ninth with a two run lead Dale Sveum turned to Kevin Gregg and he delivered, pitching a spotless ninth for the save.
At The Plate – The Cubs scattered ten hits in this one while scoring four times. The offense really only came from three guys in this one, Dave Sappelt, Anthony Rizzo, and Darwin Barney. Rizzo had the huge game going 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI’s, a stolen base and two runs scored. Dave Sappelt getting the start for DeJesus filled in admirably going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Barney was 3-for-3 with three singles in the victory.
On The Mound – Scott Feldman finally got that elusive first win tonight as he worked 6.2 innings giving up two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out two. With first and second and nobody out in the third Feldman almost threw it all away, literally. Feldman grabbed a ball hit back to him and threw to second to start a big double play but the throw was high and if not for some defensive heroics from Darwin Barney this game might have ended differently. Shawn Camp and James Russell each had scoreless appearances to get the game to the ninth. Kevin Gregg took it from there as he worked a scoreless ninth for his second save of the year.
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Another low scoring game between the Cubs and Pirates ended with the Pirates hanging on for a 3-2 victory to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. Ryan Dempster started for the Cubs, and I can’t disagree with that anymore given everything swirling around Dempster right now. The good news I guess is that Dempster was really good despite being tagged with his 5th loss of the season. Dempster allowed three runs over six innings of work on five hits, he didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. Leading 2-1 in the fifth thanks to a Anthony Rizzo solo home run, and an RBI single, Dempster couldn’t hold the lead. He allowed a solo home run in the fifth inning to Michael Mckenry to tie the game, and gave up the lead in the 6th inning on a two out RBI double by Garrett Jones. Dempster was visibly upset in the dugout after the inning, and took his frustration out on a Gatorade cooler. It was nothing really, he just pushed it and threw a cup against the wall, he was later seen apologizing to the Gatorade cooler and asking it if Atlanta was a nice place, wait that’s not right, moving on. The Cubs couldn’t get anything going the rest of the way as the Pirates pen shut the offense down. Still a solid series for the Cubs as they take two out of three from the Bucco’s, full box score and highlights after the jump.
It’s a winning formula, solid defense, great pitching, and home runs, the Cubs did all of that to celebrate the Fourth of July and beat the Braves 5-1. The Cubs are now 4-2 against the Braves this year, and they will look to win the four game series tomorrow night. Paul Maholm was stellar for the second straight start, he went six innings allowing one run on eight hits while walking one and striking out five to earn his sixth win of the season. The Cubs jumped on top in the first inning after hits from Castro and Rizzo put men at first and third with Soriano up. The Cubs almost executed a delayed double steal perfectly however Rizzo was caught stealing second, but it did allow Castro to score to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. The Braves tied the game at one in the third on a single by Martin Prado after a Michael Bourn triple, that was all Maholm surrendered. Recently named all-star Bryan LaHair put the Cubs on top for good in the fourth inning with his 14th home run of the season. The turning point of the game might have come in the bottom of the sixth when Alfonso Soriano made a spectacular throw to gun down Chipper Jones at the plate to keep the Cubs ahead by one. The Cubs tacked on in the seventh when Darwin Barney scored on a wild pitch, and Jeff Baker followed with a pinch hit solo home run off of Jonny Venters. Anthony Rizzo continues to impress as he closed out the scoring with his 3rd home run of the season, a line drive that got out in a hurry, both Rizzo and LaHair finished the night with two hits. Full box score and highlights after the jump.