Game One Hundred-Six – Cubs 0 Reds 4
WP – Justin Lehr (1-0) LP – Rich Harden (7-7) Save – None
Who is Justin Lehr? Well if the Cubs did not know before Wednesday night, they do now. Justin Lehr earned his first victory as a starter in the big leagues with a complete game shutout. The Cubs allowed Lehr to dominate them in his second career Major League start. The Cubs managed only four hits, a double by Rich Harden was the only one for extra bases, and they put two runners on base in the same inning only once on the night. Wednesday’s victory for Lehr was the fifth in his big league career.
The Cubs offense did not make him work. Lehr got ahead in the count most of the night and walked only one batter. Lehr threw 117 pitches, 78 for strikes … and the best at bat of the night for the Cubs came in the ninth inning by pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot. Milton Bradley was the only Cub that reached base twice. Bradley walked and singled in three trips to the plate.
Rich Harden did not pitch poorly. He made only two mistakes in his six innings of work. Harden served up Scott Rolen’s first home run, and hit, as a Cincinnati Red in the second that gave the Reds their first lead of the series. Harden committed a mental and throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Justin Lehr that led to the Reds’ third run.
Harden gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits with four walks and nine strikeouts in six innings. Wednesday’s loss was Harden’s first career defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds (4-1).
Aaron Miles, in his first game since June 21, gave the Reds their fourth run in the seventh that put the game away. Willy Taveras hit a grounder to Miles that he took too much time to throw to first. Taveras beat the throw, stole second on Jeff Samardzija’s first pitch then stole third when Koyie Hill tried to throw behind him to pick him off at second on a failed bunt attmept. Alex Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Taveras.
The Cubs played one of their worst games of the season Wednesday night. Not because they lost, but they had a chance to take a one-game lead in the division and simply did not show up to the park. The Cubs finished their season-series in Cincinnati with a 4-2 record. With the loss they remain tied with the Cardinals for first place in the division … Dusty Baker told the Cincinnati media before the game that ‘eight was enough‘ and the former Cubs’ manager was right. Justin Lehr ended the Reds eight-game losing streak with a complete game, four hit shutout of the Chicago Cubs. It took only two hours and twenty-seven minutes for Reds to embarrass Lou Piniella’s crew.
Rich Harden had one-bad inning and it all started on an infield single by Brandon Phillips. The Reds’ second baseman hit a ball to Aramis Ramirez that just ate him up. Phillips beat out the throw and on the very next pitch from Rich Harden, Scott Rolen gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. Rolen’s homer was his ninth of the year, first as a Red and the 20th served up by Rich Harden this season.
Wladimir Balentien followed with a single to left but Harden struck out Laynce Nix for the first out. Ryan Hanigan walked and Justin Lehr attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Lehr got the bunt down but Harden threw to third instead of getting the sure out. Harden’s throw was wide of the bag and his error allowed Balentien to score the Reds’ third run.
Harden struck out Willy Taveras for the second out but walked Alex Gonzalez to load the bases. Joey Votto struck out swinging with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Reds did not manage another run off of Rich Harden.
Jeff Samardzija replaced Harden in the seventh and gave up a hit to right on his first pitch to Willy Taveras. With Alex Gonzalez at the plate, Taveras stole second on Samardzija’s first offering. Gonzalez then attempted to sacrifice Taveras to third, he bunted threw the ball and Taveras drifted to far off second. Koyie Hill threw to Aaron Miles and Taveras took off for third. On a 3-2 pitch, Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to Kosuke Fukudome that plated Taveras with the Reds’ fourth and final run.
Kevin Gregg, in his first game since Sunday, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Cubs only scoring chance came in the fourth inning. Derrek Lee reached on the Cubs’ first hit of the game, a single to right. Aramis Ramirez flied out to center but Milton Bradley singled to center … with two outs. Alfonso Soriano looked at strike three to end the inning.
Wednesday was a bad loss for the Chicago Cubs and a tough way to spend a day off in Colorado.
The Cubs are off on Thursday and will open a four-game wrap around series on Friday against the Rockies. Carlos Zambrano versus Ubaldo Jimenez in game one.