Cubs throw a late surprise party in win over Reds
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org May 7, 2011 9:08PM
Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs (facing page) celebrates after hitting the game-winning single to drive in Blake DeWitt in the ninth inning Saturday, May 7, 2011, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: August 27, 2011 12:34AM
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo always has had the Cubs’ number. In fact, in his previous six starts at Wrigley Field entering Saturday, he was 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA and a string of 18 scoreless innings.
But he doesn’t have Blake DeWitt’s number.
And for the first time this season when trailing in the ninth inning, the Cubs had an opposing closer’s number.
‘‘What a finish,’’ manager Mike Quade said of the 3-2 surprise ending against the Reds’ Francisco Cordero (2-1), who hadn’t blown a save in five chances and had shut out opponents in 11 of his last 13 appearances.
DeWitt was involved from start to finish, homering off Arroyo in the fourth for the Cubs’ only run until the ninth, when he was in the middle of the comeback.
It started with Carlos Pena’s first home run at Wrigley to open the inning, tying the game at 2. DeWitt followed with a one-out single, and he appeared to carry the winning run home moments later when pinch hitter Jeff Baker smacked a two-out drive to deep center field.
Elation turned to frustration when the ball bounced over center fielder Drew Stubbs’ head and into the bleachers for a ground-rule double, sending DeWitt back to third.
‘‘I thought I hit it well and had a chance to go over his head,’’ Baker said. ‘‘You don’t know the ball’s going to bounce like that.’’
It fell to Kosuke Fukudome to save the day, and he lined a single up the middle for the winner, setting off the inning’s second on-field celebration as rain started to fall.
‘‘The first time I scored [in the ninth], I didn’t know what happened,’’ said DeWitt, who made only his second start of the season. ‘‘Any team can use a win like this.’’
It was a team win that brought plenty of confidence-boosting moments:
◆ DeWitt, now a lifetime .316 hitter (6-for-19) against Arroyo, hit his fifth homer since coming to the Cubs at the trade deadline last year from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Ted Lilly/Ryan Theriot deal.
‘‘You have to be ready for your opportunity,’’ he said. ‘‘You stay mentally ready, and when you’re on the field, you have to expect you’ll help the team.’’
◆ Pena hit his third homer in a week. ‘‘It was great for me, but I’m excited that my first homer at Wrigley was something special, and that it helped us win is even better,’’ Pena said.
◆ Fukudome’s first game-winning hit of the season completed a
3-for-4 day and hiked his Wrigley Field average to .489 (23-for-47).
‘‘[Friday] we had a chance and couldn’t score a run [in a 5-4 loss], so it was really nice to win like this,’’ he said.
The Cubs had been 0-16 this season when trailing in the ninth, and they hadn’t won a game in the ninth since Sept. 24, 2009, at San Francisco.
As important to the team was taking starter Casey Coleman off the hook for a loss in a strong outing.
‘‘I figured some things out, a few mechanical things, and worked on a four-seam fastball,’’ Coleman said of preparing with pitching coach Mark Riggins. ‘‘I threw strikes with all the different pitches.’’
Coleman worked six scoreless innings before walking Chris Heisey to start the seventh. Ryan Hanigan followed with a single, ending his day. Kerry Wood entered, but Heisey scored when pinch hitter Fred Lewis hit into a force out. Lewis later scored on a Stubbs single.
Coleman struck out six, including getting reigning National League MVP Joey Votto twice with the help of a changeup.
‘‘Last year when I was on first base, he told me he had trouble picking up my changeup,’’ Coleman said of an exchange with the Reds first baseman. ‘‘Maybe he wanted me to throw it more. If I hang one, he’ll hit it 500 feet.’’