Cubs back Lilly in big way vs. Brewers
Four drive in two runs apiece to help lefty earn first home win
CHICAGO -- Cliff Floyd will finally be able to get some sleep Wednesday night. So will his Cubs teammates.
Before Wednesday's game against the Brewers, Floyd was saying the team's poor start was keeping him awake.
"I need sleep," Floyd said. "And I want to win so bad, it's amazing."
He'll have sweet dreams. Floyd, Ryan Theriot, Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee each drove in two runs to help the Cubs beat the Brewers, 9-3. Ted Lilly was the benefactor, getting his first home win in four starts at Wrigley Field.
Theriot may have been the key. Cubs manager Lou Piniella started the young infielder at shortstop over Gold Glove Award winner Cesar Izturis and Ronny Cedeno, the regular shortstop last season. Piniella was looking for more offense, and Theriot came through with two hits and two runs scored. He also was thrown out at third in the third inning on an aggressive play, but even that was a plus.
"He did exactly what we wanted," Piniella said. "Bases-loaded situation [in the fourth], he drives two runs in with a single to right-center. He scored a few runs. He did a nice job. That's what we were looking for."
"It's a nice vote of confidence," Theriot said of the start. "But more importantly, I have to contribute now. I have to keep the same game plan and keep doing what I'm doing."
Lilly (2-2) enjoyed it. The Cubs had scored four runs in Lilly's last three starts; they topped that in one inning. The lefty shrugged off a 1-hour, 11-minute rain-delayed start to give up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits over seven innings while striking out three, and he has now thrown five straight quality outings.
"I think I'm a little more consistent with my delivery and it's making it easier to throw strikes," Lilly said. "Also, I've really tried to pay a lot more attention to one of the things Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] talks about, which is being committed to every pitch and don't give a pitch away. You might lose focus for one pitch and that one leads to two."
Lilly also recorded his second career hit, and first since Sept. 19, 1999. In the third inning, Lilly was safe on an infield hit to short. However, he was forced at second on Theriot's ground ball.
"That was fun," Lilly said. "When guys talk about slumps, I don't think they know. I haven't had a hit since '99. The guys who have gone through slumps like that don't get to play anymore."
No, Lilly didn't get the ball. He was more miffed he didn't get a chance to score a run.
"I don't get a chance to get on base that often," Lilly said.
Lee's homerless drought wasn't nearly that long, but may have felt like it. He connected on his first home run of the season leading off the fifth inning. This was Lee's 21st game of the year, and it was his longest homerless skid to begin a season. The previous high was 10 games without a homer in 2003.
"Honestly, I haven't been too worried about it," Lee said. "I've felt good at the plate."
Yes, he has. Lee is batting .393. And he was one of many smiling in the Cubs' dugout during the game despite the frigid 44-degree weather.
"When you're scoring runs, everyone's happy," Lee said. "It's more fun when you're winning and you're scoring runs and people are running the bases. That's why they say hitting is contagious -- it gets everybody going."
Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets, who has not won since Opening Day, exited after three innings with a strained right groin. His replacement, Elmer Dessens (1-1), walked Aramis Ramirez on four pitches to start the Chicago fourth, and one out later, Ramirez reached second, although just barely, on shortstop J.J. Hardy's error. Jacque Jones bounced a ball up the middle under Hardy's glove. Mark DeRosa then hit an RBI single.
One out later, Theriot slapped a two-run single to right to make it 3-0, and Floyd followed with a two-run double. Floyd was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple. Floyd finished with four hits, tying a career high. He's done so eight other times.
"I just told myself to go out and have some fun," he said. "After my first at-bat [in the first inning when he grounded out], I was really ticked off at myself. I wanted to get something going. I said, 'Have some fun, man. Get ticked off at the pitcher, not at yourself.' It's amazing how things can turn around if you get a little focus and a little anger."
Relaxing and enjoying the game is the message Piniella conveyed to the team after Monday's loss.
"Worrying about things and losing sleep over things, it's not going to change the outcome of what happens the next day," Piniella said. "You have to get it done on the field."
Dinner will taste a little better Wednesday night, and Floyd will get his rest.
"I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.