Pitching and defense win games, it's an old and boring adage, however the Cubs proved it to be true one more time on Friday.
Once again, it was Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson stealing the show with a sliding catch going toward the left field line, taking at least a double away from Robinson Cano to lead off the ninth. Johnson was a ninth-inning defensive replacement for Alfonso Soriano.
"It always feels good to contribute to a win," Johnson said. "I take pride in my defense and have worked hard at it over the years. Getting the lead-off hitter of the inning is always a key out for the pitcher. Especially when you have Marmol on the mound and a two-run lead. At that point you feel you have a pretty good chance."
Marmol matched up against Alex Rodriguez with two outs in the ninth and Rodriguez representing the tying run. The closer struck Rodriguez out swinging.
"I felt really good getting him out," Marmol said. "My job is to help the team win. I don't really care who is up there, I've got to strike them out. I felt really good about it."
The Cubs may have played their best all-around game of the season on Friday, limiting a Yankees offense that had a league-high 103 home runs on the season, to just one run.
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez drove in two of the three runs.
"We played a great game," Ramirez said. "Offensively, we didn't hit the way we'd like to, but you have to win those close games, too."
The buzz in the ballpark was apparent to everyone. It reminded some of the Cubs veterans of 2008, when the team advanced to the playoffs.
"That was a different atmosphere," Ramirez said. "It's the Yankees, one of the best teams in baseball. A lot of tradition, and it's going to be a great series."
The Cubs have won four of five games for the first time in 2011.