April 27, 2009

Cubs spoil Cards homestand

The Cards were ready to enjoy the spoils of a perfect home stand, complete with back-to-back sweeps of both the Mets and the Cubs, when, all of a sudden, sort of, the Cubs' Rich Harden took the hill.

Harden did what other starters had failed over the now defunct home stand -- held the Cards down. Allowing only two runs on four hits in six innings of work, Harden kept the Cards at bay while an injury-riddled Cubs lineup put together a rally here, a rally there, and by the end of the sixth inning, the Cubs were leading 6-2.

Helping his own cause, Harden walked only two while striking out nine Cards. Such a ratio usually gives a pitcher a great chance of earning a win for himself and his team. Harden did that.

The only mistakes Harden made were a couple of home runs, both solo shots, one by Yadier Molina, another by Rick Ankiel. Both longballs were off of pitches that were out of the strike zone; not bad pitches; bad pitch selection by the hitters, but good swings to manage homers.

Cards' relievers didn't fare as well this game. Newcomers PJ Walters and Blaine Boyer gave up two hits each. So did Trever Miller, including a crushing three-run homer off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome, pushing the Cubs way ahead at 10-3.

The loss snapped a Cardinals' 11-game home winning streak and ended their recently home stand at 5-1. The Cards remain in first place by 2 1/2 games.

A seven-game road trip will begin Monday night in Atlanta to start a 3-game set with the Braves, finishing with a 4-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Slated to start for the Cardinals is Joel Pineiro RHP (3-0, 4.12). The Braves will match him with Jair Jurrgens RHP (21-, 1.42). Game time at Turner Field is 6:00 p.m. CT.

photo by Barbara Moore