|Chi. Cubs (39-22) «||0||1||1||2||0||0||0||0||1||5||11||1|
|L.A. Dodgers (28-32)||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||1||0||4||8||0|
LOS ANGELES -- It's always an intriguing showdown when one of the former stars of the Japanese League faces another in a major league game. So far, Kosuke Fukudome is having more fun than Takashi Saito when the Chicago Cubs play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fukudome opened the scoring with a solo home run and drove in the eventual game-winner with a one-out single in the ninth against the Dodgers' All-Star closer, leading the Cubs to a 5-4 victory on Thursday night. It was his second hit in as many at-bats against Saito.
Fukudome got a 2-2 slider down in the zone and grounded it through the right side of the infield to enable the Cubs to regain the lead after they squandered a 4-0 margin.
"He kept fouling off those fastballs, so we tried to get him to quit on a backdoor slider and (Saito) left it down over the plate," catcher Russell Martin said. "If it's a couple of inches to the left, it's probably a double play. But he found a hole, and that was it."
Ryan Theriot opened the ninth with a double down the right-field line against Saito (3-2). One out later, Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch on the hand -- or at least umpire Eric Cooper thought so -- and manager Joe Torre argued to no avail along with Martin.
"It nicked something. I don't know it was his the knob of the bat or his hand," Martin said. "I know it didn't nick him as hard as he made it look, but that's what you're taught to do. If it flicks off something, throw your hands up and you'll get the base. He definitely has a career in Hollywood, that's for sure."
The Cubs have won 10 of 11 and lead the majors with a 39-22 record, their best start since 1977 when they had an identical record. They began this recent surge with a three-game sweep of the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, and are 17-3 against NL West teams.
Bob Howry (2-2) was credited with the victory after pitching one inning. Kerry Wood, the fifth Cubs pitcher, escaped his own bases-loaded jam in the ninth by striking out Matt Kemp to record his 17th save in 21 chances and send the Dodgers to their 11th loss in 14 tries.
"We drew it up with the closer coming in to protect a one-run lead, and that's what he did," manager Lou Piniella said. "The decision was in the balance until the last pitch. It was an exciting game. I've had all the fun I want for one evening. That's a good way to start a four-game series. Fukudome came up with some clutch hitting in the ninth inning."
Jeff Kent helped the Dodgers overcome a two-run deficit with solo home runs his last two times up. He sent a 3-1 pitch from Ryan Dempster into the lower seats in the left-field corner with one out in the sixth, then drove Howry's 1-1 delivery over the left-field wall with two outs in the eighth for his eighth home run of the season and 373rd of his career.
The five-time All-Star, whose 347 home runs as a second baseman are a major league record, recorded his 20th multihomer game and first since Sept. 9, 2007, at San Francisco.
It would have been difficult a couple of years ago to imagine a scenario in which the Cubs would be using Wood as a closer and Dempster as a starter. But the plan has worked out well for Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
"I've faced both those guys when they were rookies and throwing heat," Kent said. "And Kerry Wood, coming back from all of his injuries -- I know he beat his shoulder up, throwing all those dang sliders he's got. But I'm proud of him, trying to rejuvenate his career in more of a specific role instead of him just fading away from the game. I know he's a good kid and I know he can still pitch."
Dempster allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings in his 400th big league appearance and first start at Dodger Stadium since May 9, 2001, with the Florida Marlins.
"It's kind of odd, because I've seen Dempster as a starter, then as a reliever, and now back as a starter. And I'm absolutely impressed how he's pitching now as a starter again," Kent said. "He's turned himself into a professional pitcher. He really knows how to work fast, he doesn't shake off pitches from his catcher very often -- if at all -- and he sets guys up two pitches ahead."
Chad Billingsley allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings, striking out eight and walking three. Billingsley had allowed only one home run over his previous 51 1/3 innings before giving up solo shots by Fukudome in the second and Mark DeRosa in the fourth.
|Kosuke Fukudome's hit scores a sliding Ryan Theriot for the Cubs' 10th win in 11 games. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
Majestic Chicago Cubs T-Shirt
$21.95 Shop Now!
|Alfonso Soriano, LF||5||1||1||0||0||3||4||.282|
|Ryan Theriot, SS||5||1||3||1||0||1||1||.330|
|Derrek Lee, 1B||4||0||0||0||1||2||2||.283|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||4||0||0||1||0||0||0||.306|
|Kosuke Fukudome, RF||4||1||2||2||1||0||0||.305|
|Geovany Soto, C||4||0||0||0||1||3||5||.283|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||5||0||2||0||0||1||3||.211|
|Mark DeRosa, 2B||3||1||2||1||1||1||1||.301|
|Ryan Dempster, P||2||1||1||0||0||1||0||.208|
|Neal Cotts, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Carlos Marmol, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Mike Fontenot, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.241|
|Bob Howry, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kerry Wood, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-popped out for Marmol in the 8th|
|2B - Ryan Theriot (10, Saito), Ryan Dempster (2, Billingsley)|
|HR - Kosuke Fukudome (4, Billingsley), Mark DeRosa (7, Billingsley)|
|SH - Ryan Dempster (9)|
|RBI - Ryan Theriot (16), Aramis Ramirez (41), Kosuke Fukudome 2 (24), Mark DeRosa (32)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Theriot (7)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - DeRosa-Theriot-Lee|
|PB - Geovany Soto (4)|
|E - Derrek Lee (6, Throwing)|
|Neal Cotts (H,2)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Carlos Marmol (H,18)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.35|
|Bob Howry (BS,1; W,2-2)||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||4.50|
|Kerry Wood (S,17)||1||1||0||0||1||2||0||2.70|
|HBP - Tiffee (by Kerry Wood)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 82-48, Neal Cotts 7-10, Carlos Marmol 8-6, Bob Howry 15-11, Kerry Wood 27-16|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 10-5, Neal Cotts 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 23, Neal Cotts 3, Carlos Marmol 2, Bob Howry 4, Kerry Wood 6|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Juan Pierre, LF||4||0||0||0||1||0||2||.277|
|Matt Kemp, CF||5||0||0||0||0||1||4||.303|
|Andre Ethier, RF||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.295|
|Jeff Kent, 2B||4||2||2||2||0||0||1||.250|
|Russell Martin, C||2||0||0||0||2||1||1||.307|
|James Loney, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.280|
|Blake Dewitt, 3B||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.298|
|Chin-lung Hu, SS||3||1||1||1||0||1||1||.172|
|Chad Billingsley, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.091|
|a- Mark Sweeney, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.130|
|Chan Ho Park, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Cory Wade, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Delwyn Young, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.289|
|Scott Proctor, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Takashi Saito, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Terry Tiffee, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|a-singled for Billingsley in the 5th|
|b-struck out for Wade in the 7th|
|c-hit by pitch for Saito in the 9th|
|2B - Andre Ethier (13, Dempster), James Loney (11, Wood), Blake Dewitt (7, Dempster)|
|3B - Chin-lung Hu (2, Dempster)|
|HR - Jeff Kent 2 (8, Dempster, Howry)|
|SH - Chin-lung Hu (2)|
|RBI - Jeff Kent 2 (27), Chin-lung Hu (7), Mark Sweeney (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jeff Kent (12)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Takashi Saito (L,3-2)||1||2||1||1||0||2||0||2.19|
|IBB - Fukudome by Chad Billingsley|
|HBP - Ramirez (by Takashi Saito)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chad Billingsley 98-60, Cory Wade 22-16, Scott Proctor 21-10, Takashi Saito 29-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chad Billingsley 3-4, Cory Wade 2-3|
|Batters Faced - Chad Billingsley 25, Cory Wade 7, Scott Proctor 5, Takashi Saito 6|
|Attendance - 44988|
|Game Time - 3:07|
|Temperature - 69|
|Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Marty Foster, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Angel Hernandez|