Early offense and seven strong innings from Randy Wolf were enough to beat the Cubs Thursday night, as the Dodgers took the series opener, 2-1 at Wrigley Field.
Rafael Furcal, returning to the lineup for the first time in five games, was involved in both Dodger runs. In the first inning, after a Juan Pierre single (stop me if you've heard this before) and stolen base, Furcal pushed a bunt past third baseman Mike Fontenot, and with shortstop Ryan Theriot playing close to second base, the ball rolled into short left field, allowing Pierre to score easily.
In the third inning, Furcal waked, then moved to third on James Loney's single to center. Incidentally, Furcal looked good running from first to third twice, at least to the naked eye. Furcal scored on Casey Blake's groundout.
From there it was all Randy Wolf. Wolf pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and a walk, wile striking out seven. Sitting on 101 pitches, Wolf was allowed to start the eighth inning, but he was pulled after giving up a leadoff home run to Bobby Scales. This led to what seemed to be a missed opportunity by Joe Torre.
When Ramon Troncoso entered the game with no outs in the eighth inning, it was apparent he was in to close the game, as Jonathan Broxton and Ronald Belisario were both unavailable to pitch. James Loney made the last out of the top of the inning, and Troncoso's spot was due up fifth in the ninth inning.
This was a perfect opportunity to double switch, to bring in Mark Loretta to play first base and bat ninth, letting Troncoso pitch two innings with a decreased possibility that he would bat. As is happened, since no double-switch was made, Troncoso batted with runners on first and third with two outs, and predictably struck out to end the ninth.
The Cubs rallied in the bottom of the ninth, and even though the Dodgers won the game, it sure would have been nice to have an insurance run from a non-pitcher batting with runners on.
Troncoso earned his second multi-inning save of the season, ending the game with two strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Orlando Hudson went hitless in four at-bats, ending his hitting streak at 17 games.
Derrek Lee hit three balls very hard tonight: a double and two deep drives that were caught on the warning track. It seems that on most days those might have been home runs, but not on this night.
Wolf may have seven no-decisions, but the title of Mr. Hard Luck may have to go to Cubs' starter Randy Wells. In four starts, he has given up five runs (a 1.80 ERA) but is 0-2.
Tonight was only the third Dodger game of the season in which both starting pitchers completed at least seven innings. The Dodgers won the other two games as well.
2003 Dodger draftee Chad Billingsley will face off against 1996 Dodger draftee Ted Lilly in the Dodgers third day game of the week, an 11:20 start on Prime Ticket.
WP - Randy Wolf (3-1): 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Randy Wells (0-2): 7 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Sv - Ramon Troncoso (3): 2 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts