Game Ninety-Nine – Cubs 0 Diamondbacks 2
WP – Randy Johnson (7-7) LP – Rich Harden (5-2, 0-1) Save – Chad Qualls (2)
For the 13th time in his career Randy Johnson dominated the Chicago Cubs and if Monday night was indeed the last time they faced the Big Unit, he made a statement. The Cubs managed only 3 base runners against Johnson….a single by Jim Edmonds, a swinging bunt by Reed Johnson and a walk by Reed Johnson in the 6th inning. The Cubs hit the ball hard all night and had nothing to show for it, except for a loss. Chris Young caught several balls in the gaps and Conor Jackson made a couple of catches on the warning track in left. Johnson struck out 4 in 7 solid innings but was not as good as Rich Harden.
The Cubs inability to hit Randy Johnson cost Rich Harden a win. Harden’s record as a Cub should be 2-0 and he actually outpitched the future Hall of Famer. Harden was perfect through the first 4 innings. He struck out 5 of the first 9 batters he faced and did not allow his first base runner until the 5th inning….a walk by Chad Tracy.
The Diamondbacks first and only hit off Harden came in the 6th inning….the one mistake Harden made in 7 brilliant innings. Alex Romero hit his first career home run just over the wall in right on a 1-2 pitch and that was all the Diamondbacks’ staff would need. Harden struck out 10 and walked two on 112 pitches.
Arizona’s other run came after Bobby Howry walked Chris Snyder to start the 9th. Snyder scored on a 2-out double to right by Stephen Drew.
The Cubs put the leadoff hitters on in the 8th and 9th innings. Daryle Ward grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to end the 8th and with the tying runs on in the 9th and no outs….Derrek Lee grounded into his 20th double play of the season and Aramis Ramirez grounded out to end the game.
The Cubs’ losing ways in Arizona continued. They are now 13-26 all-time at Chase Field….and with the loss, Lou Piniella’s crew dropped to 21-29 on the road this season. Rich Harden became the first pitcher since 1900 to strikeout 10 or more batters in his first two starts for the Chicago Cubs (hat tip to Pat Hughes for the stat) with his second dominating performance in as many games. Harden has allowed 1 run on 6 hits with 5 walks and 20 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings in his first two outings for the Cubs.
The Cubs donned their blue uniforms usually reserved for starts made by Carlos Zambrano and simply could not buy a hit. Mark Reynolds robbed Ryan Theriot of a double (Theriot’s career high hitting streak came to an end at 13) to start the game and set the tone for the entire evening. Chris Young made several good catches that appeared to be doubles when they left the bat. Young covered a lot of ground in center and Conor Jackson caught everything hit his way as well. The Cubs offense kept trying to elevate the ball against Randy Johnson, and all they ended up with was long outs.
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto were 0-for-11 with 2 strikeouts on the night and Ramirez is 0-for-the-second-half (hitless in his last 17 at bats since the break). It is hard to win games when the middle of the lineup is not producing.
Monday’s loss might cause Lou Piniella to shake things up a little. They wasted Ted Lilly’s gem on Friday and Harden’s on Monday, the Cubs are 1-3 in their last 4 games and have not hit consistently in the last three weeks….and not on the road the entire season.
The Cubs will try to get back on track and put a couple of crooked numbers on the board on Tuesday. Jason Marquis is scheduled to face Yusmeiro Petit.