Even before the first pitch of Friday night’s game at Busch Stadium was tossed, controversy heated up when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story with the title “No Chance,” referring to the Cubs’ feeble attempts at a World Series crown.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who appeared sober despite having to spend half a summer in the dilapidated city of St. Louis, took offense to the headline and went on an almost Lou Piniella-like tirade directed towards Post-Dispatch reporter Bernie Miklasz. La Russa refrained from striking the Cardinals beat reporter after being promised a vodka on the rocks.
Jason Marquis took the hill for the Cubs on Friday night, once again pitching effectively against his former teammates. The right-hander gave up only one run before being pulled after surrendering a two-run shot off the bat of Cardinal catcher Bengie Molina in the seventh. Will Ohman entered the game and did his usual thing, quickly giving up a hit. He was then pulled for Michael Wuertz, who got the Cubs out of the inning.
Wuertz pitched the eighth and gave up singles to Chris Duncan and Albert Pujols and was later pulled for Neal Cotts after inducing Scott Rolen into a pop-up to get the first out. Cotts quickly loaded the bases by hitting So Taguchi and was summarily pulled for Ryan Dempster. Dempster, despite his best efforts to blow the game, struck out Preston Wilson for the final out in the inning. The Cubs closer would get the save in the ninth as the Cubs went on to win by a score of 5-3.
The previously dormant bats of Felix Pie and Cesar Izturis came through for the Cubs in this game, with Pie hitting his first home run of the season and Izturis connecting for an RBI in the ninth.
Saturday’s game was an offensive onslaught for the North Siders, who scored seven runs in the fifth inning alone. Jacque Jones actually got a hit with runners in scoring position by slapping a ball for a three-run triple. Jones would finish the day with four RBI on three hits.
Carlos Zambrano was lights-out against the Cardinals, giving up only one run, a homer by Albert Pujols. The Cubs would go on to win 8-1.
The feud between the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Tony La Russa continued into Saturday, but did not affect Cubs manager Lou Piniella. In fact, the 63-year old expressed surprise more than anything else.
“They have a newspaper in St. Louis?” asked Piniella. “I didn’t even think the literacy rate there was over 20%.”
Number of the Weekend: 1
The number of barbeque grills it takes Bob Howry to lift in order to find a new way to get hurt.