Game Seventy-Eight – Cubs 2 Brewers 11
WP – Braden Looper (7-4) LP – Rich Harden (5-5) Save – None
The Cubs lost for the first time at Wrigley since dropping the opening game of the White Sox series back on June 17. The Cubs suffered a rare blowout at home behind another horrible outing at the Friendly Confines by Rich Harden. Harden barely made it out of the first inning after allowing five runs … a two-run single by Casey McGehee and a three-run homer by Mike Cameron. The Brewers hit Harden incredibly hard in his two-plus innings. Harden allowed seven runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout on 52 pitches.
Wrigley Field has definitely been The Un-Friendly Confines for Rich Harden this season. Harden has not posted a win at home since May 12 and is 2-4 in eight starts with a 7.65 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP (33 runs, 32 earned, on 43 hits with 20 walks and 42 strikeouts). Rich Harden has allowed 15 home runs this season in 13 starts … nine at Wrigley Field.
Casey McGehee proved to be the difference early on in the game … and was only a double short of the cycle. McGehee, who the Cubs put on waivers in the off-season, drove in five of the Brewers 11 runs and finished the afternoon 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, a triple, three runs scored and five RBI. While the Cubs did not let Prince Fielder beat them, Casey McGehee sure stuck it to his old organization.
The Cubs had chances to make a game of it in the beginning. They loaded the bases twice against Braden Looper but came away empty both times. The Cubs looked bad again at the plate and left five of the seven runners on base in the first two innings. The Cubs finished the afternoon 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position … and hit into three inning ending double plays. To say the 4th of July on the North Side was not pretty would be an understatement.
The Cubs lone highlight came courtesy of Milton Bradley in the third inning. After a Derrek Lee single, Bradley hit his first home run since May 25 … a two-run shot into the bleachers in right center.
The Cubs did not manage another hit after Bradley’s home run in the third until a two-out single by Mike Fontenot in the ninth.
Alfonso Soriano finished the afternoon 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and three left on base out of the sixth spot in Lou Piniella’s lineup.
In a game that was over before the Cubs had a chance to swing the bats, Lou Piniella’s crew dropped to .500 once again at 39-39 on the year.
Craig Counsell led off the first inning with a single to right on a 2-2 pitch from Rich Harden. J.J. Hardy struck out looking but Ryan Braun went the opposite way on a 1-2 pitch and lined a double off the wall in right. The Cubs intentionally walked Price Fielder to load the bases with one-out.
Casey McGehee singled to center on Harden’s first pitch. Mike Fontenot dove but the ball hit the second base bag and rolled into center. Counsell and Braun scored, 2-0 Brewers. Mike Cameron followed and ripped a 3-2 pitch from Harden into the bleachers in left center.
The Brewers ended up batting around in the first inning and put a huge 5-spot on the board before Braden Looper threw his first pitch.
J.J. Hardy made it 6-0 with ninth home run of the year in the second … again on a two-strike pitch from Rich Harden.
After the Cubs failed to capitalize with the bases loaded and one-out in the bottom of the second, the Brewers came out swinging again in the third. Casey McGehee tripled to start the inning. Bradley made a good attempt on the ball that hit off the wall … but came up empty. Mike Cameron followed with a double and plated McGehee with the Brewers seventh run. Rich Harden departed after allowing his eighth hit … six for extra bases.
David Patton replaced Harden and kept the Brewers from adding on in the third but did not fare as well in the fourth.
J.J. Hardy reached on a one-out single to left. Ryan Braun followed with a single to right center and Hardy advanced to third on the play. Braun, for some reason, stole second and took the bat out of Fielder’s hand. The Cubs intentionally walked Fielder for the second time and McGehee made them pay.
David Patton uncorked a wild pitch, that was ruled a passed ball, on a 1-1 offering to McGehee. Hardy scored and both runners advanced ninety feet. With the infield in, McGehee singled to left past Ryan Theriot. Ryan Braun scored, 9-2 Brewers.
Mike Cameron walked to re-load the bases but Corey Hart blooped out to Theriot and Jason Kendall grounded out to third to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija retired the Brewers in order, and kept them off the board, for the first time in the fifth. Casey McGehee added his exclamation point in the sixth off Samardzija, a two-run homer that gave the Brewers a convincing 11-2 win.
Lou Piniella emptied his bench in the eighth and the Cubs went through the motions in the final two innings.
Sunday is a new day and the Cubs are in a good position to win the series …
Ted Lilly is slated to face Mike Burns on Sunday afternoon.