Game One Hundred Twenty – Cubs 8 Braves 0
WP – Rich Harden (7-2, 2-1) LP – Jorge Campillo (7-5) Save – None
Game One Recap – On the Right Foot – Cubs 10 Braves 2
Game Two of the Day-Night Doubleheader
The Chicago Cubs completed the sweep of the day-night doubleheader on Wednesday with an impressive shutout victory. The Cubs won their 7th in a row away from Wrigley and improved to 26 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1984 season. Rich Harden picked up his second win as a Cub on a night he simply did not have his best stuff. Despite struggling with his command, Harden allowed only 2 hits and threw 5 innings of shutout ball but walked 5 and struck out only 2.
The Cubs offense kept the momentum going from game one and scored 4 of the 8 runs on the night in the 1st inning. Ryan Theriot jump-started the offense with a 1-out single. Derrek Lee followed with a single to center and Aramis Ramirez drove in Theriot with a single to right center. Jim Edmonds plated Derrek Lee with a fielder’s choice and a great slide at the plate by Lee. Kosuke Fukudome came through with the big hit of the inning….a 2-run opposite field single that plated Ramirez and Edmonds.
Five Cubs’ pitchers combined on the 3-hit shutout and with the victory in game two, the Cubs picked up their first season series win against the Atlanta Braves since 2000. Rich Harden was cruising right along through the first 2 2/3 innings. He had not allowed a hit or a baserunner….or recorded his first strikeout. Harden was pitching to contact and after getting ahead of Jorge Campillo, 1-2 his pitch count stood at only 38. But after he walked Campillo with 2 outs, Harden issued two more free passes to load the bases with 2 outs. Harden retired Casey Kotchman to end the inning….and still had a no-hitter after 3 complete innings.
Harden started elevating his fastball and ran his pitch count up before leaving after 5 innings and qualifying for the win.
Chad Guadin, Neal Cotts, Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall allowed only 1 hit in the last 4 innings with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Wood was very impressive in the 8th and should return to the closer’s role soon.
The final numbers of the Cubs staff was extremely impressive….9 shutout innings, 3 hits, 6 walks and 6 strikeouts.
The Cubs offense put the game away in the 1st inning. They jumped on Jorge Campillo and took advantage of his lack of control early in the game. Ryan Theriot singled on a 3-1 pitch from Campillo and Derrek Lee attacked his first pitch….a single to center. Aramis Ramirez hit his second offering into right center to plate Theriot with the first run. The game changing play came on the fielder’s choice off the bat of Jim Edmonds.
Edmonds hit a grounder to Casey Kotchman, he threw to the plate in an attempt to keep Derrek Lee from scoring. But Lee made a great hook slide to avoid the tag from Brian McCann. Lee broke on contact, slid into foul territory, reached in and touched the plate with his hand. Campillo issued his first walk in his last three starts to Mark DeRosa to load the bases.
With the bags full and 1 out, Kosuke Fukudome stepped in and blooped a 1-2 pitch into shallow left. Ramirez and Edmonds scored to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. Henry Blanco grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Henry Blanco worked a 1-out walk in the 4th. Rich Harden sacrificed him to 2nd and he scored on a 2-out double to right center by Alfonso Soriano. The game remained 5-0 until the 9th inning.
Reed Johnson pinch hit for Kerry Wood and singled to center to start the 9th. Mike Gonzalez walked Soriano on 4 pitches and Ryan Theriot on 5 pitches. Derrek Lee took several close pitches before working a walk and forcing in Johnson with the Cubs’ sixth run.
Aramis Ramirez drove in Soriano with a sacrifice fly to center and Mike Fontenot pinch hit for Edmonds and grounded into a 3-6 force that plated Theriot with the Cubs’ eighth and final run.
According to a report on ESPN following the game, the doubleheader sweep of the Braves on Wednesday was the first time since 1908 that the Cubs won both games of a twinbill by 8 or more runs.
Lou Piniella’s crew outscored the Braves 18-2 on Wednesday….and have begun swinging the bats on the road with a little more consistency. The sweep on Wednesday improved the Cubs record on the road to 28-30.
Ted Lilly is scheduled to face Tom Glavine in the series finale on Thursday night.