Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 8 Reds 5
WP – Randy Wells (6-4) LP – Aaron Harang (5-11) Save – None
On a day they found out Ted Lilly would likely be heading to the DL, the Cubs’ offense came out swinging against Aaron Harang and the Reds. Aramis Ramirez put together a huge afternoon at the plate. Ramirez finished the day 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Ramirez gave the Cubs the lead in the first inning with a two-out double. After Mike Fontenot’s eighth dinger of the season cut the Reds lead to 3-2 in the second, Ramirez tied the game in the third with a two-out single to right.
Aramis Ramirez hit his sixth homer of the year in the sixth off of Aaron Harang that broke a 3-3 tie and proved to be the game winner. Two of Ramirez’s three RBI gave the Cubs the lead and the third tied the game, the Cubs’ offense has missed Aramis Ramirez.
The Cubs tacked on four in the eighth that included Jeff Baker’s first longball as a Cub and a two-run shot to center by Derrek Lee, his 19th of the year.
Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to six games with a two-out single to center in the eighth that plated Reed Johnson and was on board for Lee’s blast.
Five of the Cubs eight runs on Friday afternoon were scored with two outs. Of the 14 hits, seven went for extra bases … three doubles and four home runs. Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee combined for five RBI.
Randy Wells picked up his sixth win of the year after a difficult start. The Reds were very aggressive early on against Wells and attacked him on his first pitches. Wells surrendered seven hits on the afternoon with six of them coming in the first three innings. While the Reds hit him pretty hard before he settled down in the fifth, his only mistake was to Aaron Harang.
The Reds’ pitcher helped his own cause in the second inning, a three-run shot to left with two outs in the inning. Wells left one out over the plate and Aaron Harang notched his first career home run.
The Cubs bullpen was solid once again, with the exception of Kevin Gregg in a non-save situation. Aaron Heilman turned in the second 1-2-3 inning of the game in the seventh. Carlos Marmol was shaky but effective in retiring the Reds in order in the eighth.
Kevin Gregg gave up a pair in the ninth on a two-out single by Willy Taveras. With two on and two out, Gregg struck out Joey Votto looking to end the game.
The Cubs improved to 8-0 in July and 24-7 on the season when they record 10 or more hits … and Lou Piniella’s crew has won eight of their last 11 games. With the wind blowing out on Friday afternoon it was clear after the second inning that is was not going to be a low scoring game. A lot of credit should be given to Randy Wells. Wells did not allow the homer by Aaron Harang to rattle him. While Wells recorded only one 1-2-3 inning, the rookie did not allow any further damage after the Harang home run and turned in another quality start.
All of the Reds’ runs off Wells came in the second inning. Edwin Encarnacion led off with a double to left over Alfonso Soriano. Jonny Gomes grounded out to short, Encarnacion held at second. Ryan Hanigan blooped a single into left. Alex Gonzalez then tapped back to the mound. Wells went home with his throw instead of trying the inning ending double play. The Cubs eventually tagged out Encarnacion for the second out of the inning (for those scoring at home, the play went 1-2-5-1).
Aaron Harang then stepped in and lined a 2-1 pitch from Wells into the second row of the bleachers in left.
Chris Dickerson reached on an error by Mike Fontenot, stole second but Willy Taveras flied out to left to end the inning.
At the end of two, Wells had thrown only 26 pitches, 19 for strikes and allowed three runs on five hits.
Randy Wells surrendered just two more hits after the second inning … a one-out single by Brandon Phillips in the third and a lead off single by Ryan Hanigan in the fourth. Wells sat down the Reds in order in the fifth and did not allow his only free pass, a lead off walk to Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth, to score.
Wells departed after six innings and 88 pitches (54 for strikes). He allowed three runs, all earned, on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The Reds made the game a little too close in the ninth. After Jonny Gomes popped out to Derrek Lee for the first out, Ryan Hanigan (3-for-4 with two runs scored) singled to left. Kevin Gregg retired Alex Gonzalez on a pop out to shallow center but Jerry Hairston, Jr. doubled down the third base line on the first pitch from Gregg. Chris Dickerson walked to load the bases.
Willy Taveras broke his bat on a 1-0 pitch and blooped a single into left. Both Hanigan and Hairston scored and brought Joey Votto to the plate with two on and two out with the Cubs up by three. Gregg threw strikes. He caught a break on the first pitch that changed the course of the at bat. Votto then swung and missed at strike two. On a 1-2 pitch, Votto looked at strike three to end the game.
Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-4 with a double, a sacrifice bunt and two runs scored) led off the game with a single to left. Following fly outs by Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez hit a double to right center on a 2-1 pitch from Aaron Harang. Fukudome scored, 1-0 Cubs.
The Cubs got the momentum back in the bottom of the second after Harang’s homer in the top of the inning. Mike Fontenot cut the lead to 3-2 with his eighth of the season, a solo homer to right on a 1-0 pitch.
Kosuke Fukudome led off the third with a double off the wall in left. Ryan Theriot grounded out to second, Fukudome advanced but could not score on a fly out to shallow right by Derrek Lee … Fukudome started down the line, stopped and went back.
Aramis Ramirez delivered a single to right on a 1-2 pitch, Fukudome scored and tied the game at three.
Aramis Ramirez led off the sixth and ripped a 1-0 pitch from Harang to the back of the bleachers in left … 4-3 Cubs. Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano followed with singles. Koyie Hill worked the Cubs first walk of the game against Aaron Harang to load the bases with one out. Micah Hoffpauir pinch hit for Randy Wells and struck out. Hoffpauir is now 7-for-33 as a pinch hitter. Kosuke Fukudome grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs ended the day 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and it appeared they wasted a gold opportunity to put the game away in the sixth.
With the Cubs up by a slim one-run lead (4-3), Jeff Baker pinch hit for Mike Fontenot and led off the eighth with his first homer of the year … and as a Cub. Baker ripped a 2-0 pitch from southpaw Daniel Ray Herrera into the bleachers in left center.
Reed Johnson, who replaced Soriano in left to start the eighth, walked with one out. Fukudome sacrificed him to second. Ryan Theriot then drove in Johnson with a single to center … past a diving Alex Gonzalez.
Theriot stole second on a 0-1 pitch to Derrek Lee … then trotted home on Lee’s homer to center on a 1-1 pitch from Jared Burton. Aramis Ramirez hit his second double of the game but was stranded at second when Milton Bradley (1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts) tapped back to the mound.
The Cubs won their second game in a row and began an important seven-game homestand in a positive way …
Kevin Hart will move up a day due to the injury to Ted Lilly and face Johnny Cueto on Saturday afternoon.