Game One Hundred Thirty-Nine – Cubs 6 Reds 4
WP – Jeff Stevens (1-0) LP – Justin Lehr (4-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (12)
The Chicago Cubs won their fourth game in a row and improved to five games above .500 behind a perfect day at the plate by Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez went 3-for-3 on Friday afternoon with a stolen base, two runs scored, and three RBI … all with two outs. Ramirez scored the first run of the game and for good measure stole his first bag of the season in the fifth inning. In 66 games this year Ramirez has driven in 54 runs, third on the team behind Derrek Lee (96) and Alfonso Soriano (55).
Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead with a two-out single to left in the third that plated Milton Bradley and Derrek Lee. After Jonny Gomes tied the game at four with his 19th longball of the year in the top of the fifth, Ramirez drove in Kosuke Fukudome with another two-out single to left in the bottom of the fifth … the eventual game winner.
Geovany Soto gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning with his tenth home run of the year, a solo shot off of Justin Lehr … his first since August 10. Bobby Scales drove in an important tack on run in the eighth that gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead. Scales’ pinch-hit double plated Aramis Ramirez with the game’s final run.
Rich Harden more than struggled with his command and was done by the fourth inning. While the Reds managed only one run on two hits off Harden, he walked five and struck out six on 103 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Rich Harden threw 40 pitches in an incredibly long first inning. Harden walked three in the opening frame, the Reds stole three bases but Harden escaped without giving up a single run. Harden struck out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips before issuing a two-out walk to Scott Rolen that loaded the bases. Harden ran the count to 3-2 on Jonny Gomes before the Reds’ left fielder popped out to Jeff Baker in shallow right to end the inning.
Jeff Stevens picked up his first big league win after being in the right place at the right time. Stevens took the mound in the fifth and gave up back-to-back singles to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to start the inning. After Scott Rolen flied out to center, Jonny Gomes launched a 1-2 pitch from Stevens into the bleachers in left. Gomes’ three-run shot tied the game at four. The Cubs took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning and Stevens became the pitcher of record.
Aaron Heilman put together one of his better outings of the season. Heilman retired all six of the batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings and struck out the side in the seventh … Joey Votto swinging, Brandon Phillips looking and Scott Rolen swinging. Heilman threw 34 pitches, 22 for strikes.
Esmailin Caridad pitched a perfect eighth and Carlos Marmol notched his 12th save of the year.
Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 9-4 on the year against the Cincinnati Reds … The Cubs more than rebounded from their horrible performance against Justin Lehr in August. Lehr appeared to be on track early on to shutting down the Cubs once again. The offense actually scored a run before their first hit.
After facing the minimum in the first inning, Justin Lehr hit Aramis Ramirez on a 1-1 pitch to start the second. Micah Hoffpauir walked and Ramirez advanced to third on the productive out by Jeff Baker. Brandon Phillips made a nice play on a ball hit to the hole at second and threw out Hoffpauir at first. With runners on first and third with one out, Geovany Soto hit a sac fly into right center. Ramirez scored, 1-0 Cubs.
Rich Harden’s wildness finally caught up to him in the third inning. After walking Drew Stubbs for the second time to start the inning, Harden uncorked a wild pitch then gave up his first hit of the game, a bloop single to left by Joey Votto. Stubbs scored and tied the game at one.
Milton Bradley started the Cubs two-run rally in the bottom of the third with a two-out single to left … the Cubs first hit of the game off of Justin Lehr. Derrek Lee followed with a double to left center. With runners on second and third with two outs, Aramis Ramirez lined a single into left on a 2-1 pitch. Bradley and Lee scored, 3-1 Cubs.
Geovany Soto gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead with one out in the fourth. Soto worked the count to 3-2 before launching Lehr’s next pitch into the bleachers in left center.
Rich Harden left after four innings and the Cubs up by three runs. Joey Votto singled to right to start the fifth off of Jeff Stevens. Brandon Phillips followed with a single to left, Votto advanced to third with no outs. Scott Rolen hit what appeared to be a sac fly to center on a 2-2 pitch but Votto stopped half way down the line and returned to third.
Stevens quickly got ahead of Jonny Gomes 1-2 then hung a breaking ball that Gomes deposited into the bleachers in left … game tied at four.
Kosuke Fukudome walked for the second time to start the bottom of the fifth. Milton Bradley struck out and Derrek Lee flied out to deep left center. With Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Justin Lehr uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Kosuke to second. Ramirez then singled to left on a 2-2 pitch, Fukudome scored … 5-4 Cubs.
After Ramirez stole second, Micah Hoffpauir flied out to deep right to end the inning.
The game remained 5-4 until the eighth.
Aramis Ramirez singled to right with one out on a 2-0 pitch. Bobby Scales hit for Esmailin Caridad and doubled to right on a 1-1 pitch. Ramirez scored on Scales’ fourth double of the season … his ninth run batted in of the year.
Randy Wells is slated to face Johnny Cueto on Saturday afternoon.