Lou Piniella had what's often referred to as a "senior moment" after his Cubs knocked off the Rockies 5-4 on Saturday for their sixth straight win on the homestand.
"I don't even know how we scored our runs," Piniella said. "I don't remember. … But that's old age."
Winning has become so commonplace at Wrigley Field these days that even Piniella is having trouble remembering all the details, aside from Alfonso Soriano's two-run home run off Glendon Rusch that put the Cubs ahead for keeps in a three-run second inning. But after someone filled him in on the play-by-play, it all came back quickly.
"Anyway, we got five and they got four," Piniella said with a laugh. "That's all that matters."
The Cubs are a major-league best 35-21, have the top-ranked offense and second-ranked pitching staff in the National League, and topped their 17 wins of April with 18 in May. The last time the Cubs entered June with the best record in baseball was 1908, which, as rumor has it, also was the last year they won a World Series.
"How 'bout those Cubbies, huh?" Ryan Dempster said.
Dempster improved to 7-0 at Wrigley Field, allowing three runs on three hits in five innings, his shortest outing since April 20. Piniella pulled him early because Dempster had thrown 117 pitches in his last outing and was on a 95-pitch limit. Even though Dempster had struck out six of the last 10 batters he faced after some early-inning wildness, he was already at 80 pitches after four innings, so a five-inning outing was as much as he could ask for.
"I knew that might be a possibility," Dempster said. "I understand it. In the moment, I didn't want to come out. I feel strong. I felt like I could keep going.
"It was nice to finish up throwing the ball better than I started throwing the ball. As a starting pitcher, when you go five innings you feel like you really didn't do your job. It's a credit to the bullpen—what a great job they did."
The Cubs' bullpen allowed one run on one hit over the final four innings as Michael Wuertz, Neal Cotts, Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol finished it out.
The bullpen came into the day ranked third in the National League and reduced its earned-run average to 3.11 after Saturday's effort. Although it's only two months into the season, the Cubs are currently on track to record their lowest relief ERA since 1989, when the bullpen combined for a 2.92 ERA while helping the club to the NL East title.
Marmol came on in the ninth with a 5-3 lead and gave up a one-out shot to Omar Quintanilla that Kosuke Fukudome grabbed with a leaping catch in the vines. He then surrendered a two-out home run to Scott Podsednik. But Marmol regrouped and caught Willy Tavares looking to end it, pumping his fist after posting his third save.
Being on the mound in the ninth is something Marmol relishes.
"Why not?" he said. "When we win, I enjoy it, no matter what inning I pitch."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun