Lilly's gem helps Cubs even series with Dodgers
Ted Lilly had no reason to argue with umpires Friday.
Four days after getting thrown out of a game he wasn't even pitching for arguing balls and strikes, the Cubs' left-hander threw seven strong innings and got a win over the team with the best record in the majors.
Koyie Hill homered and Kosuke Fukudome hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh, rallying Chicago Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1.
After a wild week that saw Lilly jump the dugout railing to yell at umpire Bob Davidson, Ryan Dempster attack a dugout Gatorade machine, and Carlos Zambrano throw an all-time temper tantrum, the Cubs needed a quiet, solid performance from a starter.
"Obviously we haven't been playing real well, so it's been emotional," Lilly said.
Lilly (6-4) and the Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (6-3) each opened with six scoreless innings. Cubs manager Lou Piniella called his performance "professional," a high compliment on a Cubs team that has teetered on the edge while fighting to stay above .500.
"I've got a lot of work left to do," Lilly said. "I'm happy today with the way we competed and the way I threw the ball."
Matt Kemp hit his fifth home run with two outs in the top of the seventh. The Cubs bounced back in the bottom half and ended Los Angeles' four-game winning streak.
"Both guys certainly didn't deserve to lose. Billingsley pitched his tail off again. I know how tough Lilly can be," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Hill led off the Cubs' seventh with his second homer, just over the wall in right field. With one out, pinch-hitter Jake Fox, Alfonso Soriano and Bobby Scales each singled to load the bases for Fukudome, who hit a high flyball to center field.
This was a rare low-scoring win for the Cubs, who are now 1-19 when scoring under four runs.
"We had some chances early in the game, but we didn't take advantage of them," Piniella said. "Finally we got a couple runs there in the seventh inning and we got Ted Lilly a nice, deserved win. He pitched very well."
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth, and held on for his eighth save in nine chances. Andre Ethier singled with two outs and Kemp reached on Scales' error at third base, but Gregg got pinch-hitter Mark Loretta to ground into a force play.
The umpires had to huddle in the eighth after reliever Carlos Marmol's pitch hit Juan Pierre, who was trying to bunt. Plate umpire Tim Timmons called it a strike and Pierre asked him to check with third base umpire Mark Wegner, who upheld the call.
Hill, the catcher, said he knew the pitch hit Pierre but kept quiet for obvious reasons. Piniella had a more concise take.
"All I know is it was strike two," the Cubs manager said.
Lilly, who had lost his previous two starts, gave up four hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking three.
Billingsley lost his second straight start. He allowed both runs and eight hits in seven innings, striking out seven.
"You've got to give credit to Ted Lilly," Billingsley said. "He pitched a great game, kept us off-balance."
Playing with several substitutes in the starting lineup, the Cubs continued to waste scoring opportunities against the NL West-leading Dodgers. After blowing several late scoring chances in their 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on Thursday.
The Cubs came into the game hitting .240 with just 64 RBIs with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. By comparison, the Dodgers were hitting .312 with 143 RBIs in the same situations, albeit with 87 more at-bats.
In this series, the Cubs are 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position, while the Dodgers are 1 for 11.
"When we hit with men in scoring position, we hit," Piniella said. "What am I going to do about it? Relax and swing the bat."
Soriano started and hit leadoff despite pain in his left knee. Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he might soon give Soriano a few days. ... Cubs P Rich Harden, currently on the disabled list, said his back is improving. There is still no timetable on his return. ... Hiroki Kuroda will return to the Dodgers' rotation Monday. The injured pitcher hasn't started for the Dodgers since opening day. ... Cubs SS Ryan Theriot was out with the flu bug that has been lingering this week. Blanco started in his place.