Reed Johnson belted a grand-slam in the 8th inning of Wednesday’s 10-6 Chicago Cubs victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the home run proved to be the ultimate difference in the game. The home run was Johnson’s fourth on the season but helped propel the Cubs to only their second victory since the All-Star break.
Ted Lilly pitched six innings allowing six hits and three earned runs en route to his 10th victory on the season. Lilly also chipped in on the offensive side of things connecting on an RBI single in the fifth inning and then stealing third base which led to an RBI ground out by Ryan Theriot later in the inning.
“Obviously the big blow was the grand slam but Lilly did his part, a little base hit,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
“I mean the hit, I don’t know how to explain that one,” Lilly said. “That one kind of worked out. I didn’t hit it hard or anything, caught a break there.”
The Cubs may have also caught a break with Johnson’s grand slam. The ball was driven to right-center field and appeared to just clear the fence. As it was coming down, a fan reached over trying to make the catch himself but from the perspective of many, also looked as if he grabbed the ball from in play to make it a home run. The umpiring crew came together to make an official ruling and determined that the ball had cleared the fence before the fan touched it which resulted in a grand slam.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin was not very happy about the call but replays show that it appeared to have been the correct ruling.
“Early on, for the first few innings, we had some opportunities we didn’t cash in on,” Melvin said. “But we had been swinging the bats better, we had been better in those situations. There were a couple of man-on-thirds with less than two outs that we didn’t get in and those end up costing you as the game goes on a little bit.”
Along with the win, another good sign for the Cubs was the return of Alfonso Soriano to their lineup. Soriano was activated before the game and hit in the leadoff spot for the first time since fracturing his finger on June 11th. He went 1-5 including, a double in the six run eighth inning for Chicago.
The loss leaves the Diamondbacks only one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West while it give the Cubs a one game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
Next up for the Cubs will be the Florida Marlins, who head into Wrigley for a four game series that begins today