Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cubs show Hart and muscle, win third straight

Saturday: Cubs 5, Reds 3

With the list of injured Cubs growing longer by the day, the team needs contributions from a variety of players if they want to keep winning.

That's exactly what they got on Saturday.

Kevin Hart had the best start of his career (out of three), allowing just one run in six innings and--perhaps most importantly--walking just one. The Cubs reached double digits in hits for the third straight game, and hit their fifth, sixth and seventh home runs of the series. Soriano's was his first at Wrigley since May 17, and even Milton Bradley got into the act with his first career pinch-hit home run off former Cub David Weathers.

The win brought the Cubs to 29-18 at Wrigley. Though they're nowhere near the ridiculous 55-26 home pace of last year, the Cubs have the third most home victories in the NL, behind only the Dodgers (34) and Giants (31).

Aaron Heilman found it necessary to make things interesting by giving up two taters in the 9th, forcing Lou to bring in Kevin Gregg on a day when he should have been able to rest up. On the positive side, Gregg's save was his 20th, vaulting him into the top 10 in the NL in that category.

Today's game pits Rich Harden (gasp!--he's pitching during the day!) against Micah Owings. Owings carries a hefty 5.33 ERA into today's action, and is 0-2 against the Cubs this season. He's allowed 7 ER in each of his last two starts. Harden will try to get on track at Wrigley, where he has allowed at least 4 ER in each of his last three starts.

On the trade front, Bruce Levine writes that the Cubs have had talks with Pittsburgh about lefty reliever John Grabow. Grabow, 30, has a 3.65 ERA in 43 appearances this season.

And Steve Stone started a rumor that Milton Bradley might be on his way to the Tigers. It seems completely unfounded, but it would be great to unload Bradley's $30 million contract and make room in the payroll for a replacement who isn't a headcase or a switch-hitter who can only hit right-handed. But again, don't hold your breath--this rumor is about as far from reality as it gets.

Central Intelligence

The Cardinals got a taste of the Phillies' ass-whoopin' offense as they scored five runs in the 6th and six more in the 7th to walk away with a 14-6 victory. Houston was finally tripped up by the Mets, leaving the Cubs alone in second place and just 1/2 game back of the Cardinals. Today could be the day the Cubs regain possession of first place for the first time since April 21.

Did you know ...

The Braves and Brewers wore Negro League uniforms on Saturday. Atlanta's were a throwback to the Atlanta Black Crackers. That name does not seem appropriate to me. It also seems like an ironic name for a Negro League team.

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