7/27 Cubs 1, Giants 0
Chris Rusin won’t forget Saturday’s game. The Giants won’t forget Nate Schierholtz. Rusin threw seven scoreless innings and Schierholtz homered off his former teammate, Sergio Romo, with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Giants, and take a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Giants tested the Cubs in the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, San Francisco loaded the bases with none out against Pedro Strop, who got Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval to each hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing runners at home. He then struck out Hunter Pence. The inning didn’t begin well as Strop didn’t handle two bunts cleanly.
“He was like Houdini out there — I liked it,” Rusin said of Strop.
In the ninth, the Giants loaded the bases with one out against Kevin Gregg, who got pinch-hitter Tony Abreu to hit into a slick 3-2-3 double play.
“It was an exciting game,” Schierholtz said. “It reminded me of playing here when we played one-run games every night. They’re nail-biters.”
The Cubs could’ve easily given up on the season when the front office started dealing players. Instead, they’ve been playing their best baseball of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in here who don’t give up,” Schierholtz said. “One of the things they instilled in us in Spring Training is hard work and running balls out and not ever letting up. That’s one of the biggest things a winning team does. You don’t have to have the best players to win championships, and I learned that here,” he said. “It’s just been fun. We go out there loose with nothing to lose. It’s a fun, young group of guys and we all get along great.”
With one out in the Chicago ninth, Schierholtz launched a 3-2 pitch from Romo into the seats in right. The outfielder had played his entire career with the Giants until last year when he was sent to the Phillies at the Trade Deadline. He signed as a free agent with the Cubs with the promise of regular playing time, and delivered.
“I can’t really describe it, but it felt good,” Schierholtz said. “It’s great to get that win and it’s good to come in here and get the first two.”
He’s on a roll since the All-Star break, going 10-for-25 with three home runs, four doubles and nine RBIs. It’s helped that he was able to give a sore shoulder some rest during the break.
Rusin retired the first 13 batters he faced before he walked Pence with one out in the fifth. One out later, Joaquin Arias singled up the middle for the Giants’ first hit.
San Francisco had a runner at third with two outs in the seventh, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo robbed Brandon Belt of a potential extra-base hit and RBI with a perfectly timed leaping catch to end the inning.
“That was big,” Rusin said. “I was really pumped up after that. Right when it left the bat, I thought, ‘Man, I left one up’ and then Rizzo went up and got it.”
Said Sveum: “When things go good, you usually have those kind of breaks and if not, you usually miss things by an inch.”
– Carrie Muskat