Whiffing Rattlers bail Cubbies out
Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 5:13 pm
By: By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — Shortly after pulling off a pair of early-game escapes, Tom Gorzelanny half-jokingly told manager Lou Piniella he had just walked more in one game than Seattle’s Cliff Lee had all season.
He was close. Gorzelanny actually matched Lee’s total with six in five innings.
Not that it mattered. The way he was pulling off escapes and the rest of Chicago’s pitchers were making hitters miss, the walks could be tolerated.
Gorzelanny got out of one jam in the first inning, a bigger one in the third and the Cubs struck out 12 in a 9-4 win over the still-struggling Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
“You get where you put yourself in bad situations and you have to find a way to get out of it,” Gorzelanny said after his first win since May 19. “Today, I was just good enough to work my way out.”
Chicago gave Gorzelanny some rare support early, roughing up Ian Kennedy (3-7) for four runs the first two innings.
Kosuke Fukudome led off the game with a homer, Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto drove in two runs each from the bottom of the order, and Alfonso Soriano capped it with his 800th career RBI with a solo shot in the eighth.
Those nine walks? Unseemly, but the Cubs were able to work around it.
For a team that’s won just six times in 17 games, they’ll take a W any way they can get it.
“It was a good game for us,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “Offensively, we put some runs on the board, we hit the ball with some power, we hit with men on base.
“Good to see. As far as our pitching was concerned, outside of walking quite a few people, we did a nice job.”
The Diamondbacks had been swinging and missing a lot this season, with 100 more strikeouts than the next closest team in the majors, including 28 combined in a pair of losses to the Dodgers over the weekend.
Chicago was fourth in the majors with 634 strikeouts, so there figured to be a lot of flailing.
There was. Arizona whiffed at least a dozen times for the third straight game, including eight of the last nine outs to push its season total to 773.
What hurt the Diamondbacks more was the inability to capitalize on the walks. Arizona was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and got one run on two bases-loaded chances in the first three innings to lose its third straight under interim manager Kirk Gibson after winning in his debut.
“For me, the most frustrating part is I want the guys to feel the success for the work they have put in, but the game just doesn’t do that sometimes,” Gibson said. “That is kind of the way things have been going around here now, but we are identifying that area that we need to make an adjustment.”
Gorzelanny did the best escape work, pitching out of walk-induced jams in the first and third innings.
The left-hander got out of a bases-loaded spot in the first by striking out LaRoche after a pair of two-out walks. In the third, Gorzelanny walked the bases loaded with no outs, but allowed just one run on Miguel Montero’s sacrifice fly.
Gorzelanny gave up a leadoff homer to LaRoche in the fourth inning and Johnson made it 5-3 with an RBI triple in the fifth. That was it, though. Gorzelanny was done the next inning, lifted for a pinch hitter after allowing three runs on five hits.
“Today, I should have gone out there a little bit better,” Gorzelanny said. “I was just trying to do too much. It was one of those days where I was kind of battling everything.”
Kennedy knows how hard it can be to work around walks. He set a team record with nine in his last outing, a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on June 26.
The right-hander rediscovered the strike zone against the Cubs, walking none in 5 2/3 innings. He just couldn’t miss their bats.
Fukudome started it off, breaking a 1-for-10 slump on Kennedy’s fourth pitch, launching it into the balcony in center for his seventh homer of the season.
Castro followed two leadoff singles in the second inning with a two-run triple off the wall in center, and Soto made it 4-0 with a run-scoring double hit even harder to nearly the same spot.
First-time All Star Marlon Byrd knocked in a run on a groundout in the fifth, then two more came across in the sixth on Soto’s RBI double and a run-scoring single by pinch hitter Mike Fontenot. That put the Cubs up 7-4 and chased Kennedy, who allowed seven runs on nine hits to push his winless streak to eight starts.
“I’m pretty sure that every time I went behind, fell behind they either got on either by a single or extra-base hit,” Kennedy said. “It is frustrating because you can’t do that and I know that, but it got me today.”
NOTES: Fukudome’s homer was Chicago’s first to lead off a game this season. … Arizona LF Cole Gillespie made a spectacular catch in the fourth inning, diving toward the wall on a ball hit by Aramis Ramirez that went over his head.