The Cubs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 13th inning off former teammate Kerry Wood en route to their third straight comeback victory Saturday, 6-5 over the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field.
After reliever David Patton gave up a go-ahead home run to Indians shortstop Luis Valbuena in the top of the 13th, the Cubs responded by getting a leadoff single to start their half of the inning from Kosuke Fukudome, who later stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error from Tribe catcher Kelly Shoppach.
With the infield drawn in, Andres Blanco singled to center to score Fukudome to tie the game. Aaron Miles' bloop single then moved Blanco to third before a wild pitch from Wood brought in the winning run.
It was the Cubs' third straight victory -- all in their last at-bat.
"It's a long game, but a good win," Piniella told reporters afterward. "We make them exciting, but so far they've come out on the ‘W' column."
Piniella was asked if the Cubs' recent knack for late-inning heroics would breed confidence into a team that had been struggling to score runs and at one point last week dropped to 4.5 games out of first place in the NL Central.
"It should give us confidence, it really should," Piniella said. "We squandered some opportunities today, but so did they. It's a long game, but it should boost your confidence, no question."
The Cubs needed all of seven relievers in the victory and were going to send in right-hander Randy Wells, scheduled to start Sunday's finale, had the game been extended another inning, Piniella said.
"We were having to figure out what we'd do tomorrow for a starter," Piniella said. "Thank God it didn't get that long, but those were our plans."
Piniella was hoping not to use setup men Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman much if at all, either, but both saw action.
Marmol came in with a one-run lead and a bases-loaded, one out jam in the seventh and retired Jamey Carroll on strikes. He then issued a walk to Jhonny Peralta to force in the tying run before striking out Victor Martinez to avoid further damage.
Piniella said Marmol, who has struggled with walks all season, kept the Indians out of a potential big inning.
"It was a tough situation he was brought into with the bases loaded," Piniella said. "He walked a hitter, but he gave up only one run. It could have been a big inning for Cleveland and then we brought in (Aaron) Heilman (in the eighth and ninth) and it was pressure to pitch a couple of innings.
"Really we didn't want to pitch Guzman today. We were going to save him for tomorrow but we had to use him and he gave us two good innings, too."
Saturday's game was the Cubs' 32nd this season that was decided by two runs or less. Chicago improved to 17-15 in those contests.
"I think we're probably in one of these stages where we're playing a lot of close games," Piniella said. "Most of these games are all being decided by one run one way or the other. We've played a slew of one-run games."
IOWA 4, MEMPHIS 0 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, the Cubs (37-33) collected 10 hits in the shutout victory Saturday. CF Sam Fuld (2-for-4) collected two hits to extend his hit streak to four games and raise his average to .391 through 18 games in June and .277 in 68 games overall.
"He's found the barrel of his bat now," Iowa manager Bobby Dickerson said of Fuld. "He was looking for it for a long time. He's centering balls up and when you center balls up, you have good hits."
RHP Jeff Samardzija (4-3) started and pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing six hits in his longest outing of the season. He was consistently around 90-92 mph, striking out six batters and walking four to lower his ERA to 3.71 in 12 appearances spanning 60 2/3 innings.
"He threw all his pitches over for strikes," Dickerson said of Samardzija. "He had some outstanding split-fingers and get-ahead curveballs that he threw for strikes. He did a good job."
C Chris Robinson threw out two batters from behind the plate and was 2-for-4 at the plate. 1B Bobby Scales (1-for-3) and LF Jason Dubois (1-for-2) hit their fourth and eighth home runs of the year, respectively.
TENNESSEE 7, CAROLINA 0 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, the Smokies (31-38) collected 12 hits in the shutout victory Saturday. CF Jim Adduci (3-for-4, walk) led the team in hits to extend his on-base streak to 15 consecutive games. He raised his average to .315 through 62 games and is batting .452 (28-for-62) in 17 games in June. 1B Doug Deeds (2-for-2, double, RBI, walk) and 3B Jonathan Mota (2-for-3, RBI) added two hits. LHP Jeremy Papelbon (2-3) started and pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits. He struck out two and walked one.
PEORIA 5, BURLINGTON 3 (CLASS-A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (38-30) won their eighth consecutive game Saturday. 3B Josh Harrison (2-for-4, double, RBI) and RF Nelson Perez (2-for-3, double, walk, RBI) finished with two hits. Peoria collected seven hits total and left six on base.
"We weren't real good with runners in scoring position; very poor, 1-for-13," Chiefs manager Marty Pevey said. "We have to do a better job than that."
The Chiefs' two through five hitters were a combined 0-for-15 Saturday. Pevey spoke of what he'd like to see his middle of the order hitters improve on:
"I would like to see our hitters, before the All-Star break – (Josh) Vitters, (Kyler) Burke, (Rebel) Ridling, (Ryan) Flaherty – stop giving away too many at-bats," he said. "It's not saying they aren't having a good year because they are, but 2-0 popups to the opposite field is just giving them away."
RHP Chris Carpenter (4-3) started and went six innings, allowing one run on five hits to lower his ERA to 2.60 through 14 starts. He struck out three batters and walked two. RHP Chris Huseby recorded his seventh save in relief and lowered his ERA to 2.28 through 27 2/3 innings.
TRI-CITY 14, BOISE 8 (CLASS LOW-A)
At Boise, the Dust Devils outslugged the Hawks (0-1) in the season opener for both teams Saturday. SS Hak-Ju Lee (3-for-5, RBI) had three hits in his professional debut. 3B George Matheus (3-for-5, two RBI) also had three hits. Boise collected 13 hits and used four pitchers in the loss. RHP Jonathan Nagel started and allowed four runs (one earned) and five hits in three innings. RHP Josh Whitlock (0-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing six runs and five hits in three innings.
InsideTheIvy.com correspondents Kelsey Knutson in Des Moines and Adam Franey in Peoria contributed reporting.
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