Game One Hundred-Eighteen – Cubs 7 Padres 1
WP – Rich Harden (8-7) LP – Mat Latos (4-3) Save – None
The Cubs ended their six-game losing streak in San Diego behind a dominant performance by Rich Harden … and a lot of offense. The Cubs equaled their run total from the first five games of the year at PETCO Park by the sixth inning and posted their first win of the year in San Diego (1-5).
After struggling with his command and throwing 25 pitches in the first inning, Rich Harden settled down and shutdown the Padres’ offense. Harden allowed just one hit, a single by Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning, walked three and struck out eight. Harden appeared to get stronger as the game progressed. Once the offense put runs on the board, Harden began attacking hitters and found a rhythm.
The Padres did not manage a single baserunner against Harden after the second inning until a two-out walk by David Eckstein in the sixth. Harden threw 41 pitches after two innings … and finished the night with a pitch count of 103, just 62 pitches over his last five innings of work.
The Padres lone run came in the ninth off of Sean Marshall. Everth Cabrera collected the Padres second hit of the game, an infield single, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to center by Chase Headley.
Koyie Hill drove in the game’s first run. Jeff Baker extended his hitting streak to nine game with a two-out double in the second and Hill knocked him in with a single to right … the eventual game winner.
The Cubs offense took advantage of a very talented rookie and scored all seven of their runs in the first six innings. Aramis Ramirez had the big hit in the third inning that gave Rich Harden a little breathing room. Ramirez delivered a two-run double in the third and scored on a single by Kosuke Fukudome. Ramirez put together a huge night at the plate … and a nice game in the field. Ramirez knocked his 10th homer of the year in the sixth and finished the game 2-for-5 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and three RBI.
Milton Bradley, despite hecklers in the stand, continued to produce out of the two-hole in Lou Piniella’s lineup. Bradley walked three times in five trips to the plate, scored twice and hit his ninth dinger of the year … an opposite field solo shot in the sixth off of right-hander Luis Perdomo.
Alfonso Soriano tripled in the fifth inning, his first three-bagger since July 25, 2007.
The Cubs’ defense played a big part in Wednesday’s win. Milton Bradley turned a 9-3 double play in the first inning, his fourth outfield assist of the year, and Derrek Lee started a 3-6-1 double play that ended the sixth inning.
The Cubs ended their two-game losing streak and improved to four games over .500 on the season by salvaging the last game of the season in San Diego … Rich Harden stepped up when his team needed a win on Wednesday night. Harden improved to 3-1 in the second half with a 1.64 ERA in a truly dominating performance. After the first inning it appeared Harden would have a short night. He struggled with his command, threw a lot of pitches and allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base … a walk, a hit batsman and a single.
But after the second inning, Rich Harden was as good as he’s been in a Cubs’ uniform.
After Koyie Hill gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the second, Ryan Theriot led off the third with his second hit of the game, a single to right. Milton Bradley walked for the second time. After Derrek Lee popped out to center, Aramis Ramirez doubled to left center. The ball one-hopped the wall and both Theriot and Bradley scored … 3-0 Cubs.
Kosuke Fukudome followed with a single to right center. Ramirez scored, 4-0 Cubs. The Cubs scored three runs in the third on three hits and a walk.
Ryan Theriot reached on a two-out walk in the fourth. A wild pitch advanced Theriot to second and Bradley walked for the third time. Derrek Lee ripped a double off the wall in left center. The ball looked like it was leaving the park, but just missed. Theriot scored but Bradley held at third. Bud Black lifted Mat Latos for Luis Perdomo.
With the Cubs up 5-0, Aramis Ramirez flied out to left to end the inning.
The Cubs’ offense could not capitalize on Soriano’s first triple in over two years in the fifth … but put the game away in the sixth.
Milton Bradley hit his ninth homer of the year over the wall in left center … his first round tripper since July 30. One batter later, Aramis Ramirez hit his tenth of the season, a smash to left … his first since July 29.
Lou Piniella’s crew finished the season series against the Friars with a 4-5 record.
With a 7-0 lead, Harden went into cruise control and improved to 38-0 in his career when he receives four or more runs of support.
The Cubs needed a game like Wednesday night and maybe this will get them started for the stretch run. With the Cardinals winning in the ninth inning in Los Angeles, the Cubs will enter play Thursday six back of the Redbirds.
Tom Gorzelanny will face Jeff Weaver in the first of four against the Dodgers on Thursday night in La-La Land.