Cubs' bench settles pitchers' duel
Colvin doubles in only run to lead Chicago to series win
CHICAGO -- The Cubs' bench came through at the right time, Ted Lilly may have stepped over the line and Sean Marshall stepped in when needed.
Mike Fontenot tripled and scored on Tyler Colvin's double with one out in the eighth inning on Thursday to lift the Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and take the series.
Both Fontenot and Colvin delivered in their first at-bats of the game and defied the odds. Manager Lou Piniella had opted for an overload of right-handed hitters against the Dodgers' John Ely because righties were batting .257 against him while lefties were hitting .216.
"When we got our left-handers in there, we got it right," Piniella said.
Fontenot, who entered the game as a defensive sub in the eighth, tripled to lead off the inning -- only the third hit off Ely (3-2), who grew up outside of Chicago in Harvey, Ill. Geovany Soto then struck out, and Colvin, who had also entered in the eighth -- taking over in left field -- lined the ball down the right-field line.
Colvin was credited with an RBI double, but reached third on an error by right fielder Xavier Paul, who had trouble getting his glove on the ball, crashing into the brick wall.
"We just noticed [Ely] was throwing changeups, offspeed pitches," Fontenot said. "In my at-bat, he threw a few of them, and I ended up fouling them off. I tried to stay on the ball until I had two strikes and he left one up."
Colvin asked Kosuke Fukudome, another left-handed hitter, what he was seeing from Ely.
"You always get to gauge him in the dugout," Colvin said. "You see him pitch for seven innings, and you have a feel for what he's going to do. You talk to other hitters. I knew what I was trying to look for -- it wasn't the best pitch, but I got it fair."
It worked. Marshall, AKA the Vulture, picked up his fifth win this month in relief, and Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth for his 11th save. The Cubs now are 8-3 in their past 11 games, and notched only their third win in 21 games this season when they score four or fewer runs.
"We just have to continue to play and try to win these series," Piniella said. "You win these series, you'll be in good shape down the road. Right now, we're starting to do that with a little more consistency. Let's just continue."
Lilly will have to watch his step in his next outing. In the sixth, Casey Blake complained to first-base umpire John Hirschbeck that the left-hander was throwing off the pitching rubber.
"I know the guy doesn't have the fastest fastball and he's trying to get any edge he can, but the guy is just cheating," Blake said. "John wouldn't at least tell him to get on the rubber or move to get a better look at it. That's what made me mad."
Hirschbeck said he "couldn't tell" if Lilly was in contact with the rubber, but couldn't leave his position to get a better look.
"It's a hard thing to see and you've got to know for sure," Hirschbeck said.
"There were a couple times I would get it and throw it," Lilly said. "I think I was a little bit ahead of the rubber. I don't know if it was that much. It wasn't one of those things where I was thinking about it."
Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee told Lilly about Blake's complaint.
"If I was doing that, I might have done that a couple times, but I wasn't real conscious of it," Lilly said. "I was just trying to get good footing."
Third-base umpire Wally Bell, asked by Dodgers coach Larry Bowa to watch for the infraction after the dispute, said Lilly was in compliance.
"I looked, and he was fine," said Bell.
Lilly did not get a decision, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out five. He created a mess in the fifth as the Dodgers loaded the bases on three walks. It's the first time Lilly has walked three in one inning since June 15, 2008. But he got Paul to pop up to Starlin Castro to end the threat.
The Cubs' pitching was solid. Marmol struck out pinch-hitter Rafael Furcal in the ninth, then walked Blake DeWitt. That prompted a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
"I told Larry he's got the right message," Piniella said.
"He told me to focus a little more and throw strikes," Marmol said.
Which he did. Marmol struck out Manny Ramirez and Garret Anderson to end the game.
"He's a handful," Piniella said of his closer.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.