Harang's gem helps Reds handle Cubs

BY foxsports • April 24, 2009

It's been nine years - not to mention seven managers - since the Cincinnati Reds have had a winning record. They're sick of being bad and determined to make 2009 a season to remember.

"We're making it known that we're going to come out and battle everybody," Aaron Harang said Thursday after allowing only one unearned run over seven innings in a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds went 7-3 on their first road swing of the season, marking the first time since 2004 they'd won three series on the same trip.

That the opponents were NL Central foes Chicago, Houston and MIlwaukee made it even more special to Harang.

"Being in our division, it's probably going to come down to the end of the year," he said. "To come in early and get some big wins right now, it means a lot."

Joey Votto homered, doubled twice, singled and drove in two runs. He was asked if winning two of three against the two-time defending division champions sent a message to other Central teams.

"I think it is more of a message to ourselves," he said. "As long as the road trip was, to be able to finish off on such a good note ... it's big for us."

Harang (2-2) scattered seven hits in outpitching Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano (1-1), who hasn't won at Wrigley Field since last Aug. 21. Harang walked one and struck out two, including his 1,000th career strikeout.

Votto tied his career high for hits as the Reds finally put some runs on the board for Harang - he had received one, two and zero runs of support in his first three starts.

"We had some very timely hitting. This was a great reversal," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm just glad to get (Harang) back to .500, back to 2-2. He's pitched good and he always draws a tough assignment. He had (Mets star Johan) Santana, now Zambrano. That's what happens when you're a No. 1 - you draw the No. 1 on the other side most of the time."

Shoddy fielding contributed significantly to the Cubs' first series loss of the year.

Micah Hoffpauir, in right field because of Milton Bradley's groin injury, played a catchable fly into a triple in the fourth inning to set up Jay Bruce's RBI single. Hoffpauir also made an error in the seventh that led to two runs.

Zambrano made an errant pickoff throw in the sixth, and Votto followed with his second double of the game.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella was upset with his team, which defeated Cincinnati in the series opener but then scored one run and made four errors in losing the next two.

"It wasn't a pretty baseball game, not from our point of view, anyway," he said. "We've played two games, we've thrown the ball away, haven't hit when we have had opportunities with men on base. It's just been two very ... lackluster games."

Piniella said he might have to "forget trying to get more offense" and get Hoffpauir - a natural first baseman - out of right field. The manager said he was leaning toward putting Reed Johnson in center and moving Kosuke Fukudome from center to right until Bradley returns.

Hoffpauir, a 29-year-old rookie who was the hitting star in the series opener and is batting .350 this season, said he knows he has little margin for error.

"That's obvious. That's baseball," he said. "My job is to go out there and not screw things up. And obviously ... today that's just what I did."

Votto homered off Neal Cotts in the eighth. In 53 career at-bats at Wrigley, Votto is batting .340 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Zambrano allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings. He has an 8.00 ERA in five starts (including a playoff loss) since last winning at home. He had won five straight games against the Reds, with an 0.97 ERA.

Chicago's run came in the sixth when Alfonso Soriano singled, went to second on left fielder Chris Dickerson's error and scored on Ryan Theriot's single.

Dickerson hit a two-run single in the ninth off Jeff Samardzija, who was called up from the minors earlier Thursday.


The Cubs are 8-0 when playing errorless baseball, 0-6 when making at least one error in a game. ... The Reds had losing records on 23 of their previous 28 road trips. ... Soriano has a 10-game hitting streak. ... The Reds are 9-6. It's the first time they've been three games over .500 this late in a season since 2006. ... Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, who beat out Votto for NL Rookie of the Year, was 2-for-23 on the homestand and is batting .103 this season.

share story