Harden helps Cubs extend road winning streak to 7
ATLANTA (AP)—A Cubs fans hoisted a sign proclaiming Turner Field to be “Wrigley Field of the South.”
The Cubs played like they were at home as they continued their hot streak on the road.
Rich Harden pitched five scoreless innings, Kosuke Fukudome 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.
Chicago (73-47) improved to 26 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 1984 season 96-55, and the two wins pushed their road streak to seven straight, their longest since June 12-22, 2004.
“Let’s not talk about that and just hope it continues,” said manager Lou Piniella.
“We got good hitting both games and really good pitching,” Piniella said. “Our bullpen came in and did a good job. What else can I say?”
By contrast, the Braves struggled in every phase.
“We scored two runs in 18 innings,” said manager Bobby Cox, who was ejected in the first game. “We were behind 4-0 by the second inning both games.”
Harden (2-1) set a season high with five walks but allowed only two hits and struck out two.
“I didn’t really have good stuff,” said Harden, who combined with four relievers for the three-hit shutout, the team’s fifth. “I had to throw a lot of pitches.”
Harden has two victories 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.
“We struggled from the first pitch of the game,” said Braves catcher Brian McCann. “It’s frustrating to play so poorly today. We just didn’t do anything good.”
Fukudome had been 3-for-32 (.093) in August before finally breaking through.
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.
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 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.”
Soriano’s pose at the plate may have prompted 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?”
There was no retaliation in the night game.
“That’s part of the game,” said Soto, who hit a two-run homer off Bueno earlier in the ninth. “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.
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.
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.