CHICAGO (AP)—Rich Harden left his Cubs debut to a standing ovation with Chicago ahead by seven runs. The game, however, was far from over.
Harden struck out 10 for the Cubs, who gave up two runs in the eighth and then blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning before beating the San Francisco Giants 8-7 Saturday on Reed Johnson’s single in the 11th.
“It’s a shame. Harden pitched really, really well, but the game got away from us a little bit in the eighth and ninth,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s a win, what can I say?”
Jim Edmonds homered and drove in four runs early for the Cubs, who led 7-0 after four innings and held on to win for the fifth time in six games. The Giants have lost six straight.
“It’s disheartening to lose that way when you make a comeback like that,” said Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, who took the loss.
Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall singled off Wilson (0-2) to start the bottom of the 11th. Mark DeRosa then walked, and Marshall was forced out on Mike Fontenot’s bunt attempt. Johnson then laced a hit to right and DeRosa slid into home just ahead of Emmanuel Burriss’ throw.
Burriss came in the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth and had never played outfielder in his professional career. His throw was perfect and Giants catcher Bengie Molina thought he tagged DeRosa for the out.
“I thought he slid right on top of my mitt,” Molina said. “What can you do now? The umpire thought he saw something that I didn’t see.”
“A beautiful slide by DeRosa,” was how Piniella saw it.
“We kind of created that situation,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Marshall got a big hit for them, then walking a guy put us in a tough situation.”
Carlos Marmol put the Cubs in bad situation as well. The talented, but continually erratic reliever was staked to a 7-2 lead in the ninth and imploded, giving up five runs—four earned—and five hits in one inning. He didn’t talk to the media after the game.
“He won’t pitch tomorrow,” Piniella said. “We’ll give him a good breather between now and next Friday. He can come back with a nice, fresh arm.”
Piniella won’t have Kerry Wood in Sunday’s first-half finale either, and likely not in the All-Star Game next Tuesday. The Cubs closer, who pitched Friday, has been bothered by a blister on his right index finger. He was unavailable Saturday.
With Wood scratched, Piniella turned to Marshall (2-2), who pitched two perfect innings for the win. Marshall was shifted back to the bullpen when Harden arrived. Some thought Marshall was heading back to the minors to keep starting.
“I was glad to get in there today,” Marshall said. “It was a fun win. You can’t beat a win in walk-off fashion like that.”
The Cubs led 7-5 with two outs and the bases loaded when pinch-hitter Eliezer Alfonzo hit a grounder wide of Ryan Theriot at shortstop. Theriot threw wildly off his back to force the runner at second, and the ball sailed into right field, allowing the tying run to score.
Theriot said he was trying to make a spectacular play.
“You want to try and make a great play for him in a situation like that,” Theriot said. “Looking back on it, it wasn’t a great play, but if you make a good throw, you never know.”
Piniella disagreed with that kind of reasoning.
“The great play there is preventing two runs from scoring,” Piniella said. “Eat the ball and hope the pitcher gets out the next hitter.”
Harden, acquired from the Oakland A’s in a six-player deal Tuesday, easily spotted his fastball against the weak-hitting Giants, cranking it up to 98 mph when he struck out Aurilia to end the fourth. Harden didn’t allow a run and gave up five hits and walked three in 5 1-3 innings.
His velocity has been up and down this year.
“Some people were concerned,” Harden said. “But I tried telling people that wasn’t an issue. You have games where you’re up and down. As long as I’m throwing strikes, I’m not worried.”
In five career starts against the Giants, Harden is 2-0 with an 0.68 ERA. In two starts this season against San Francisco, he has 19 strikeouts in 11 1-3 scoreless innings.
Harden left with two on in the sixth to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd of 41,555.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” he said. “I’ve never had anything like that before, pitching in Oakland.”
Theriot had three hits for the Cubs to extend his hitting streak to nine games for Chicago. It was his 37th multi-hit game this season.
Giants starter Kevin Correia avoided losing his fifth straight decision. He gave up seven runs and nine hits with four walks in 3 2-3 innings.
Cubs LHP Scott Eyre (strained left groin) pitched a rehab inning for Class A Peoria on Friday and will throw again Sunday. … Giants OF Randy Winn didn’t start because of a right knee contusion, but pinch-hit in the eighth. He hurt his knee in the first inning Friday. … Giants SS Ivan Ochoa made his major league debut in the sixth, coming in on a double-switch. He doubled and scored in the ninth. … Before the game, the Cubs collected signed memorabilia to give to a 7-year-old boy who was struck in the head by Ted Lilly’s foul ball Thursday. The boy, Dominic DiAngi, fractured his skull and is recovering, but was in serious condition at a local hospital. Lilly said he was going to try and visit him Saturday. … Piniella found out about the death of his old teammate Bobby Murcer after the game. “It’s a sad day,” he said. “Just a wonderful person, a great teammate and a heck of a baseball player. … I thought he was getting better and I know the past week or 10 days, he’s been struggling.”