Thursday, August 14, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Summer 'Mutts'

Harden helps Cubs extend road winning streak to 7

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[August 14, 2008]  ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs are playing so well on the road, they won two lopsided games away from Wrigley Field in one day.

Rich Harden pitched five sharp innings, Kosuke Fukodome drove in two runs with two hits and the Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves 8-0 on Wednesday night to complete their first sweep of a road doubleheader since 1992.

Geovany Soto and Jim Edmonds homered and Jason Marquis defeated his old team as the Cubs routed the Braves 10-2 in the first game.

Harden (2-1) set a season high with five walks but allowed only two hits and struck out two as the Cubs pushed their road winning streak to seven, their longest since June 12-22, 2004. Harden combined with four relievers for the three-hit shutout, the team's fifth.

Harden has two wins during the road winning streak, which has helped the NL Central leaders improve to 28-30 away from home. The Cubs have outscored the Braves 38-11 and are 5-0 in the season series.

Aramis Ramirez had a run-scoring single and Jim Edmonds also drove in a run before Fukodome's two-run single off Jorge Campillo (7-5) in Chicago's four-run first inning.


Fukodome had been 3-for-32 (.093) in August before he broke through against Atlanta.

Alfonso Soriano drove in Henry Blanco with a fourth-inning double, and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson singled in the ninth and scored when Mike Gonzalez issued a bases-loaded walk to Derrek Lee. Ramirez drove in another run with a fly ball to center off Julian Tavarez.

After retiring the first eight batters, Harden walked three straight with two outs in the third. Harden escaped the bases-loaded jam when Casey Kotchman grounded out to first base.

Harden continued to frustrate the Braves. Jeff Francoeur popped out to Lee at first base to end the fourth with runners on first and third, and Harden struck out Brian McCann to end the fifth with runners on second and third.

Chicago (73-47) is 26 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 1984 season 96-55.

Soriano was booed by Cubs fans in the opener after he stood and watched a long fly ball hit the left-field wall for a single in the eighth inning. Soriano didn't run to first, apparently thinking the ball would clear the fence.

He was stranded on third base when the inning ended.

"I apologized to him and I apologized to my teammates," Soriano said after speaking with manager Lou Piniella. "I said that's not going to happen again."

Watching possible homers without running has been an issue throughout Soriano's big league career. He was criticized by the Yankees following the 2001 AL championship series opener for failing to run out a ball he thought was a home run against Seattle and getting only to first base when it clanked off the wall.

"I told him that he's one of our leaders here and there's no reason for that," Piniella said. "He apologized and said it won't happen again. Over."

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Soriano's pose at the plate may have angered Braves left-hander Francisley Bueno, making his major league debut, to throw a pitch behind Soriano's head in the ninth. Bueno immediately was ejected by plate umpire Ed Rapuano.

"We've got pitchers who can do that to the other team, too," Soriano said. "They do that to us, why can't we do that to them?"

Soto hit a two-run homer off Bueno earlier in the ninth.

"That's part of the game," Soto said of the pitch behind Soriano's head. "You have to live with that stuff. It's been around since the beginning of the game."

Marquis (8-7) gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings for his first win against the Braves, his first major league team. Marquis had been 0-3 with a 14.04 ERA in his first four starts against them.


Bobby Cox was ejected by third base umpire Joe West in the top of the fifth. Cox never left the dugout but complained when West halted play for the lights to be turned on after Braves reliever Vladimir Nunez warmed up. Cox has been ejected a record 142 times, seven this season.

Soto, who finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs, hit a two-run double in the second against Charlie Morton (3-6) and the two-run homer in the ninth off Bueno.

Edmonds hit a two-run, opposite-field homer to left in the third and had an RBI in the three-run fifth.

Notes: The Cubs swept a doubleheader at St. Louis on June 8, 1992. ... Morton is 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA in six home starts. ... The Braves had a pregame tribute before the night game for late broadcaster Skip Caray. Six of his grandchildren threw out the first pitch, and the team unveiled a sign proclaiming the Skip Caray Broadcast Booth. Caray was 68 when he died at his home on Aug. 3. ... 3B Chipper Jones missed the second game with a stomach virus.

[Associated Press; By CHARLES ODUM]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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