It was fitting that Ben Francisco caught Alfonso Soriano’s fly ball to end the game. After all, Francisco played hero by picking up the pieces for an offense that continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, and a closer that failed at a save attempt.
The Cubs were the first to get on the board. Jake Fox’s RBI single in the third and Soriano’s sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
J.A Happ allowed only two runs, but wasn’t the J.A we’re used to seeing. He lacked command, but wiggled out of jams. He gave up seven hits, walked four, and struck out three in six innings. A couple key double plays helped Happ avoid further damage as the Cubs left a total of 12 men on base throughout the evening.
On the other hand, Rich Harden was dealing. He was perfect through five innings. In the sixth, Carlos Ruiz drew a huge walk. Not only did it end the perfect game, but Jimmy Rollins followed with a home run to end the no-hitter and the shutout. The homer tied the game at two.
The Phillies were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. However, an important run came without a hit. Ruiz drew another big walk. Shane Victorino was plunked, and Chase Utley walked to load the bases.
Surprisingly, Lou Pineilla did not have a left-handed pitcher ready to face the Phillies lefties. Instead, he left it up to Carlos Marmol, who was having trouble finding the strike zone. Patient, Ryan Howard drew a walk to bring the run home. The Phillies took a 3-2 lead.
Lidge has the highest earned run average and the most blown saves among any reliever in baseball. The Phillies would have liked some insurance. Ruiz came close to it– well, not really. Ruiz hit a fly ball to left field that was clearly foul. Originally, the umpire ruled it fair, but it was reviewed and overturned. Ruiz grounded out to end the inning.
Lidge started the ninth by walking Kosuke Fukudome. With the wind blowing in, the Cubs played small ball, and Ryan Theroit bunted him over. Next, Milton Bradly singled which drove in Fukudome. It tied the game at three, and Lidge blew another save. Lidge didn’t give up anything else, so the game headed to extra innings.
Tyler Walker and Scott Eyre did a tremendous job keeping the game knotted at three. In the 11th, it looked like Milton Bradley won the game for the Cubs as he started his trot around the bases. Victorino lined up against the ivy wall and made the catch. Walker and Eyre got hitters out and gave the offense a chance.
Kevin Gregg left a curveball in Francisco’s wheelhouse, and he drove a bomb into the left field basket. The Phillies took a 4-3 lead in the twelfth inning on Francisco’s twelfth home run of the year. Francisco now has more homers in the month of August (2) than Utley, Howard, and Raul Ibanez combined (0).
Chad Durbin finished with the save to secure the 4-3 win. It was a long night filled with a range of emotions, but the Phillies pulled this one off.