SAN DIEGO -- The Chicago Cubs perked up in time to avoid an embarrassing sweep in San Diego.
Rich Harden held the Padres to one hit over seven innings and the Cubs came alive offensively for a 7-1 victory Wednesday night, snapping a six-game losing streak at Petco Park dating to June 4, 2008.Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs, who had 10 hits after looking flat in losing the first two games of the series. Ramirez also had a two-run double."We swung the bats really well tonight," manager Lou Piniella said. "We swung them aggressively, we hit the ball for power. That's what our team is built for. Tonight we did it, and we won a ballgame rather convincingly."Piniella remarked before the game how lethargic the Cubs looked in the first two games."When you swing the bats and put runs on the board, and people are running around the bases, you don't look flat," he said. "When nothing's happening, you have a tendency to feel that way. We're not the quickest team in baseball, you know, so we've got to hit. We've got to hit the ball in the gaps and those sort of things. Today we did, and we looked like a really good baseball team."The Cubs remained six games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central and five games behind Colorado in the wild-card race.The Cubs were swept in a three-game series here in late May."Give San Diego all the credit in the world. The other five games, they held us to what, seven runs total?" Piniella asked.Harden (8-7) was well-rested. He had been scheduled to start Sunday, when the Cubs were rained out at home against Pittsburgh. He struck out eight and combined with two relievers on a three-hitter."Harden really pitched well, seven really good innings," Piniella said."I felt all right," Harden said. "Really, I was getting behind a lot of hitters, kind of felt a lot better later in the game. I got locked in and started finally getting ahead. That's kind of where I want to be, just getting that feeling. It's almost what, seven days, I think?"The Padres had three of their five baserunners in the first inning yet failed to score.Harden hit leadoff batter Everth Cabrera, who was doubled off on David Eckstein's fly to right field. Adrian Gonzalez singled and Chase Headley walked before Kevin Kouzmanoff struck out.Harden walked Henry Blanco in the second inning, retired the Padres in order in the next three innings, then walked Eckstein in the sixth."He did a good job of throwing strikes," Headley said. "He really didn't have his good changeup early on. But when a guy like that gets an early lead, it's going to be an uphill battle."Sean Marshall allowed two hits in the ninth, including Headley's two-out RBI single.The Cubs already led 5-0 when Bradley and Ramirez homered off reliever Luis Perdomo in the sixth. It was Bradley's ninth and Ramirez's 10th.Bradley apparently was being heckled by some fans. After he touched home plate following his homer, he motioned toward the seats near the Cubs' dugout as if to say, "Keep yapping."Padres rookie Mat Latos (4-3) had the shortest of his seven starts, going 3 2/3 innings and allowing five runs and five hits. He struck out five and walked four.Latos was chased after giving up Derrek Lee's RBI double that gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead."Today was absolutely horrible," Latos said. "I let the team down by letting some calls affect me. I start to worry about things that I can't control. I didn't control myself and control my actions. It led to a couple of big innings."Said manager Bud Black: "Every inning he had to work awfully hard."Koyie Hill hit an RBI single in the second. Ramirez had a two-run double and Kosuke Fukudome an RBI single in the third.
Green Day drummer Tre Cool threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Green Day plays at San Diego State on Thursday night. ... Bill Murray sat in the first row to the left of the Cubs' dugout. ... Harden improved to 38-0 in 49 career starts when his team has scored four or more runs while he was in the game. ... Padres INF Edgar Gonzalez started a rehab assignment at Single-A Lake Elsinore on Wednesday night, going 1 for 3 with a three-run homer. He's been on the DL since suffering a concussion on July 18 when he was hit in the head with a 93-mph fastball from Colorado's Jason Hammel.