Game Twelve – Cubs 7 Reds 2
WP – Rich Harden (1-1) LP – Micah Owings (0-2) Save – None
After a two-day break and a twelve-minute rain delay, Lou Piniella’s crew won the first match-up of the year against the Cincinnati Reds. Rich Harden rebounded from a poor outing against the Rockies and earned his first win of the season. Harden was on top of his game once again. He struck out eight in six innings with good velocity and command. Harden made only three mistakes…and two of them were to Jay Bruce.
The Reds offense managed only three hits off Harden and two of them belonged to their young right fielder. Bruce gave the Reds a brief one-run lead in the second inning with his second home run of the year…then tied the game in the fourth. Rich Harden walked Joey Votto, he stole second with Brandon Phillips at the plate and scored on Bruce’s single to right.
Micah Hoffpauir hit his first home run of the year in the second inning that tied the game at one…and drove in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly in the Cubs’ three-run fifth inning.
Aramis Ramirez delivered once again on Tuesday night with two outs. Ramirez drove in three runs, all with two out hits…singles to right in the fifth and sixth innings that helped put the game away.
Ryan Theriot added his seventh multi-hit game of the season and finished 2-for-4 with a RBI, a single in the second that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs bullpen put together another good game, with one exception. Neal Cotts struggled once again and two of the three batters he faced reached in the eighth. Lou Piniella brought in Carlos Marmol to clean up his mess once again.
After the game Lou Piniella addressed why he used Marmol in the eighth with his team up 7-2. Piniella said they were trying to win a game and with two on and the heart of the order due up, a three-run homer would make it 7-5 real quick and he would’ve needed to use his closer as well. Piniella did not sound very happy.
The Cubs won their third in a row behind impressive performances by Rich Harden, Micah Hoffpauir and Aramis Ramirez… Tuesday was a solid win on a night with a little deja vu. A cat ran onto the field and past Alfonso Soriano in the fourth inning and not to long after a foul ball ended up very near a section of seats that were made infamous a few years back. At one point Bob Brenly said if he sees a goat on the field he was out of there, maybe one day all of those ‘ghosts‘ will be forgotten.
The Cubs offense continued to load the bases on Tuesday night and until the fifth inning it appeared it might cost them another game. They left 11 more runners on and scored seven runs. With the patience this team continues to display, the number of runners they leave on base night after night should continue to be high.
After Micah Hoffpauir supplied the offense early on, the Cubs patience forced the issue in the three-run fifth inning. All three runs were unearned and the only hit was the two-out single by Aramis Ramirez…three walks, a hit batsman and an error.
Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome led off the third with back-to-back walks. Derrek Lee then launched a ball that appeared to be a home run when it left the bat. However, the wind was blowing out to right on Tuesday and knocked the ball down…on any other day it was a 3-run homer.
Chris Dickerson misplayed the ball in the wind and after it hit off his glove at the wall, the bases were loaded with one out for Micah Hoffpauir. Hoffpauir worked the count to 2-2 then launched a sacrifice fly just to the right of center. Soriano scored, 3-2 Cubs.
Aramis Ramirez followed with a great at bat. After working the count to 3-2, Ramirez fouled off three straight pitches before dropping a single into right, Fukudome scored…4-2 Cubs.
Mike Lincoln replaced Micah Owings and hit Mike Fontenot on his first pitch to reload the bases. Geovany Soto walked on four pitches to force in Derrek Lee from third, 5-2 Cubs.
The Cubs tacked on a pair in the sixth after a leadoff double by Alfonso Soriano. Soriano hit a 1-0 pitch down the first base line, the ball hit off the base and ended up in shallow right with Joey Votto following close behind. Soriano made it to second and was given a double. Mike Lincoln hit Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases.
Dusty Baker brought in southpaw Daniel Ray Herrera to face Hoffpauir but Piniella countered with Reed Johnson. Herrera struck out Johnson but could not retire Aramis Ramirez. He lined a 1-2 pitch into right that plated Soriano and Fukudome. Not only did Aramis deliver with two outs, but both hits came with two strikes as well.
The Cubs were 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position while the Reds were just 1-for-7. The game was close early on but the Cubs kept taking pitch after pitch and wore down Reds’ pitching. Piniella’s staff threw 146 pitches while Cincinnati tossed 178…
The Cubs began the long 20-game stretch with a good win on a cold night.
Ted Lilly is slated to face Johnny Cueto in game two of the series on Wednesday night.