Sun. Final: Cubs 8, Brewers 5
By Todd Welter
Next game: Monday, April 13 vs. the Reds
Reed Johnson is the last person you would expect to rob anyone of a home run. Johnson stands two inches under six feet tall and has never been known for his vertical leap. The little right fielder shocked Prince Fielder when Johnson climbed the right-field wall and snatched away a possible game-tying grand slam. That highlight catch along with Jeff Suppan's struggles on the mound led to an 8-5 Chicago Cubs victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
"It was a great play," Fielder felt. "I did everything I was supposed to do and he did everything he was supposed to do. I guess he was a better guy that day."
One guy that was not the better man was Suppan. To put it nicely, Suppan just did not have it on the mound. He only lasted three and two-thirds innings and gave up five runs. The worst part of it was the Cubs scored four of those runs off walks as Suppan struggled with his control all game. The Brewers faithful knew it was going to be a long night when his first pitch was blasted to center field by Alfonso Soriano.
His night got worse in the fourth. Suppan started the inning off by hitting Milton Bradley with a pitch. He then gave a free pass to Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot followed up with a single. Theriot would have the only hit of the inning as Suppan then preceded to walk Koyie Hill, Soriano, and Kosuke Fukudome. Ryan Dempster reached base in between that sequence thanks to a fielder's choice. Instead of escaping the inning, Suppan kept handing out RBI walks. When he left the game to a chorus of boos, the Brewers were in a 4-1 hole. Jorge Julio did not make matters any better as Derrek Lee drew a bases loaded walk and the Brewers were down 5-1.
"Four walks in that inning was just a poor job and I just wan't able to execute," Suppan addmitted.
The Brewers charged back as Corey Hart homered in the fourth and then the Brewers loaded up the bases in the fifth. That is when Johnson spoiled the comeback. Johnson was not even in the starting lineup but was pressed into duty when Bradley left the game in the fourth with a strained right groin. Fielder probably wishes Bradley was still in there. Fielder took a Dempster slider and blasted it towards the right-field fence. Johnson made a mad dash towards the wall, dug his cleats into the fence, and got just enough of a boost to snatch the ball from landing in the Cubs' bullpen. The Brewers only ended up with a run on that play instead of a tie and Johnson ended up getting a tip of the cap from Fielder.
"I said great play jerk," Fielder joked after both got a chance to talk about the play in the sixth inning when Johnson got on base. "I can't be mad about it. He did his job."
Although Julio may have been mad as Fielder's little interaction was caused by Julio beaning Johnson in the back.
Nothing hurt the Brewers more than their own pitching. The Cubs drew 10 walks and scored eight runs despite only having five hits.
"10 walks, couple hit batsmen, five of the guys we walked scored, they had eight runs total, that wasn't a very well pitched game," Brewers manager Ken Macha thought. "Yet we still had a chance. The guys battled to the end."
The Brewers made one last effort in the ninth when Rickie Weeks hit a two-out solo shot and then Craig Counsell followed up with a double. Ryan Braun drew a walk and it almost looked like Kevin Gregg would blow another Cubs lead. Fielder once again could not come up with the big hit. Only this time he was not robbed of the heroics as Fielder struck out to end the game.
Weeks had another strong showing at the plate as he was 3-for-5 with two runs. Dempster (1-0) picked up his first win of the season as he pitched six innings, allowed four runs, six hits, walked three and struck out six. Suppan (0-2) took the loss for his forgettable night.
The Brewers welcome in the Cincinnati Reds for a three-game set starting Monday night. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 2.70) starts for Milwaukee while Edison Volquez (0-1, 8.31) takes the ball for the Reds.