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News » Harden halts Cubs' slide, pressures Pujols Cubs' starting pitcher throws close to Cardinals first baseman in response to a pitch

Harden halts Cubs' slide, pressures Pujols Cubs' starting pitcher throws close to Cardinals first baseman in response to a pitch

Harden halts Cubs' slide, pressures Pujols Cubs' starting pitcher throws close to Cardinals first baseman in response to a pitch
With his team having lost four straight games, Chicago Cubs righthander Rich Harden did what good, veteran big-league starters do. He stopped the losing streak, pitching six strong innings and striking out nine Sunday as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 10-3 at Busch Stadium.

And when one of his teammates, Alfonso Soriano, was hit in the back of the helmet by an errant pitch from Todd Wellemeyer, Harden responded by throwing close, but not at the head, of the other team's star. Harden tossed two near the legs of Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols on one at-bat and hit him, but in the lower back, on the next one.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella, asked if he thought Harden had handled the situation properly, said, quot;Well, I just think he was going to try to come inside and the ball got away from him. Twice.quot;

Harden said after Soriano had been hit in the head, something quot;has to be done. You want to go in on him anyway, just challenge (Pujols). We were just going in there and if something happens, it happens.quot;

Soriano, who said he wasn't hurt by the pitch, appreciated Harden's gesture and hoped that Pujols understood what was happening (Pujols, incidentally, said he wasn't concerned).

quot;That's the difficult part of the game,quot; Soriano said. quot;When somebody gets hit like that, we've got to respond. I feel sorry for Albert, but we've got to respond.quot;

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he didn't have any problem with what the Cubs did.

quot;I'm not OK with anybody getting hit,quot; he said. quot;The only thing I've ever said, whether we hit somebody or they hit somebody, this is the big leagues ... you should never get hit in the head. The pitch doesn't get away. If anybody's got to improve his game, it's us. We're the guys who got the ball above the shoulders. I didn't see them doing anything wrong.quot;

Piniella, watching his team score just six runs in the past four games, shook up his lineup again, moving Soriano back to the leadoff spot and inserting Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome into the No. 3 spot. Soriano reached base three times and Fukudome drove in a career-high five runs as the Cubs salvaged one game of the three-game series.

But Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee joined the list of walking wounded by incurring neck spasms following his double in the first inning. Lee, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and right fielder Milton Bradley all are out with injuries that are not disabling but that nonetheless make the Cubs short-handed.

But Piniella decided Sunday that Pujols, whose grand slam Saturday was his 38th career homer against the Cubs, wasn't going to beat him. Until Kevin Gregg may have surprised Pujols by throwing him a strike (for a double play) on the last pitch of the game, the Cubs walked Pujols three times and hit him once.

quot;This guy here ... is the best hitter in Baseball. Period,quot; Piniella said. quot;I admire the heck out of the guy. He's a good ambassador for the game of Baseball. I've got nothing but great things to say about the young man.quot;

But Piniella said, quot;I've told him before, 'Today, you might get two at-bats. The other two, we're going to put you on.'quot;

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 27, 2009

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