KKKKKKKKKKK – Cubs 6 Nationals 1

Game One Hundred Thirty – Cubs 6 Nationals 1
WP – Rich Harden (9-2, 4-1) LP – Jason Bergmann (2-10) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their 8th straight series for the first time since 1937 behind an impressive outing by Rich Harden. Harden dominated the Nationals lineup and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts….but most importantly no walks. Harden allowed only 2 hits in 7 complete innings on 109 pitches. Harden won his second straight game at Wrigley and fourth consecutive decision. The only mistake, a solo home run by Austin Kearns to lead off the 3rd inning.

Mark DeRosa became the first Cub since Fred McGriff in 2001 to hit a home run in four straight games. DeRosa’s 18th put the Cubs on the board in the 2nd and two batters later Geovany Soto added his 19th of the season, a 2-run shot that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Soto tied the franchise record for home runs by a rookie catcher set by Randy Hundley in 1966.

Kosuke Fukudome came off the bench in the 7th inning and hit his 9th of the season, his first pinch-hit home run in the majors. Fukudome added two very important insurance runs and Aramis Ramirez drove a run with his team leading 91st RBI on a fielder’s choice that capped the scoring on the afternoon.

With the win Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 30 games over .500 for the season and became the first team in the majors to post their 80th victory of the year. The 30 games above .500 is the highest the organization has been over the break even mark since the final day of the 1984 season when they finished 31 games over with a mark of 96-65….

With the wind blowing in it did not figure to be hitter’s day at the Friendly Confines but the Cubs hit three long balls and two more were held up by the wind in the 3rd inning. Five of the six runs the Cubs scored came off home runs by DeRosa, Soto and Fukudome and two of the other four hits were doubles by Aramis Ramirez and Mike Fontenot. For the second day in a row the Cubs tacked on late and gave their pitching staff a little breathing room.

The Cubs offense gave Rich Harden an early lead and he more than took care of the rest. Harden was just nasty once again. He threw strikes and kept his pitch count low for the most part early on which allowed him to complete 7 innings for the second time in as many starts.

Here are Harden’s pitch counts and strikeouts by inning:

  • 1st inning – 12 pitches, two strikeouts – both swinging
  • 2nd inning – 20 pitches, two strikeouts – one swinging, one looking
  • 3rd inning – 13 pitches, no strikeouts
  • 4th inning – 14 pitches, two strikeouts – both swinging
  • 5th inning – 21 pitches, one strikeout – swinging
  • 6th inning – 11 pitches, one strikeout – swinging
  • 7th inning – 18 pitches, three strikeouts – one swinging, two looking

Carlos Marmol took over in the 8th and an error by Aramis Ramirez opened the door for a possible big inning by the Nationals. Marmol walked Ryan Langerhans with 2 outs then surrendered an infield single to Willie Harris after two borderline ball calls by homeplate umpire Angel Hernandez. With the bases loaded, Guzman received a break on a 2-2 pitch from Hernandez then a makeup on called third strike to end the inning….the Cubs caught a break.

Jeff Samardzija gave up a hit in the 9th with 2 strikeouts. On the afternoon, Harden, Marmol and Samardzija struck out 14 and walked only 1.

The Cubs offense was jump started in the 2nd inning by Mark DeRosa. He hit his fourth home run in as many games into the first row of the bleachers in right. Jim Edmonds followed with a walk and scored on a home run by Geovany Soto into the bleachers in left.

After the Kearns home run in the 3rd, the score remained 3-1 until the 7th inning.

Mike Fontenot reached on a 1-out double to left center and Lou Piniella went to his bench for the struggling Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome was 4-for-9 with a double as a pinch hitter and took two out of the strike zone from Steven Shell. Fukudome then launched the next pitch down the right field line for his 9th home run of the year. Fukudome was greeted in the dugout by a lot of smiles and hugs from his teammates, and Ronny Cedeno even bowed showing his respect. The smile on Fukudome’s face was just priceless….

Alfonso Soriano reached on an error by Ryan Zimmerman and advanced to 3rd on a single to right by Ryan Theriot. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to 2nd base but the Nationals could not turn the inning ending double play and Soriano scored with the Cubs’ sixth and final run on the 91st RBI of the season by the Cubs’ third baseman.

Sunday’s win was the Cubs’ seventh in a row in the rubber game of a series and for the year they improved to 16-6 for the year on Sunday. They completed the homestand with a 4-2 record and the season series with the Nationals at an even .500 after losing 3 of the first 4 games.

The Cubs open a brief 3-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Jeff Karstens in the opener.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax