Pitching, defense prove decisive for Cubs

June, 17, 2011
6/17/11
5:54
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeDoug Davis
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDoug Davis picked up the win and was aided by good defense.
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.

Doug Davis, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol held the explosive New York Yankees offense to just one run in a 3-1 Cubs win.

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.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 31
RBIA. Rizzo 72
RA. Rizzo 83
OPSA. Rizzo .895
WJ. Arrieta 9
ERAT. Wood 4.86
SOJ. Arrieta 157