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Ramirez blasts game-winner

Ramirez blasts game-winner
For the second straight game, a Cubs hitter proved he had a short memory, which was a good thing.

One day after Alfonso Soriano shrugged off an 0-for-4, 3-strikeout performance to finish with a 2-run home run that lifted the Cubs to an 8-7 victory over St. Louis, Aramis Ramirez stepped to the plate in the 11th inning of a 5-5 tie.

The third baseman was 0-for-5 with 1 strikeout at the time and looking for a mind-eraser of his own.

"I told him I was worried," Ramirez said of a conversation with manager Lou Piniella before the at-bat. "I?ve never been 0-for-6 before. I was thinking about bunting right there."

Actually, Ramirez had gone 0-for-6 once in his career: Sept. 2, 2003, against the St. Louis Cardinals, according to a source at Stats, Inc. But neither Ramirez nor the 40,878 in attendance Saturday will quibble over fuzzy recollections after the third baseman blasted a 2-run home run to left-center field on a 1-0 pitch from left-hander Dennis Reyes that lifted the Cubs a 7-5 victory over the Cardinals. The win vaulted the Cubs (7-4) into first place in the National League Central, percentage points ahead of the Cardinals (8-5).

Soriano drew a one-out walk from Reyes before Kosuke Fukudome bunted into a fielder?s choice. After Derrek Lee flied out, the right-handed hitting Ramirez delivered.

"Tony had gone through his whole right-handed bullpen," Piniella said. "The key was the base on balls to Soriano. It got us into the middle part of our lineup. That was a big home run by Ramirez, a clutch home run."

The walk-off homer by Ramirez, the fourth of his career and third in two seasons, made a winner of reliever Angel Guzman for the first time as a major-leaguer. Guzman pitched a scoreless top of the 11th, capping a 5-inning, 1-run performance by the Cubs ? bullpen. The only run St. Louis scored against a Cubs reliever came in the eighth, when Marmol allowed a leadoff double to Chris Duncan and a subsequent double down the left-field line by Yadier Molina that tied it at 5-5.

After Marmol hit the next batter with a pitch, closer Kevin Gregg entered the game and retired six straight Cardinals. Aaron Heilman and Guzman each tossed a scoreless inning to set the stage for Ramirez.

"I think that?s what we needed," said Gregg, who hadn?t pitched in four days. "I have always believed a bullpen is a unit. We work together as one team, and that was a great team effort out of our bullpen."

Starter Ryan Dempster took a no-decision. He allowed 4 earned runs on 4 hits in 6 innings.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 21, 2009

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