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Johnson still tough on Cubs
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Cubs' Rich Harden pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning Monday in Phoenix.

 

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Published: 7/21/2008 11:27 PM | Updated: 7/21/2008 11:59 PM

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PHOENIX - This had to stop at some point, didn't it?

Apparently not.

Randy Johnson improved his lifetime record against the Cubs to 13-0 Monday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks shut them out 2-0. Cubs batters managed 2 hits off the 44-year-old Johnson and none against the D'Backs bullpen as they lost their third in four games on this road trip.

That was enough for Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who followed through on something he said in Houston Sunday.

"We've played four games on this road trip here, and we've scored 1, 1 and zero," Piniella said, just warming up. "That's not going to get it done anywhere, I can tell you that. But the pitching has been good, which is a positive.

"And tomorrow, we're canceling batting practice, and the next day, we're going to cancel batting practice. We're going to come out here and just stretch and play. That's it. I'm tired of seeing balls flying all over batting practice, and when the (darn) game starts, I see very little or nothing. So we'll just go play and hope that'll get it going. We did it Sunday, and it worked. So we'll see."

The Cubs wasted another nice pitching performance by Rich Harden. In his second start since coming over from Oakland, Harden worked 7 innings and gave up only 1 hit, but it was a sixth-inning leadoff homer to Alex Romero. Harden worked 5 scoreless innings on July 12, but the Cubs blew a 7-0 lead, and Harden was left with a no-decision.

"That's the game," Harden said. "Randy pitched a great game. I made one bad pitch. I threw a 2-strike changeup right down the middle that kind of cut in to the guy. I felt pretty good, a little inconsistent. I was getting behind some hitters a little later in the game. I've got to start getting more efficient with my pitches."

The Cubs got a leadoff single from Jim Edmonds in the third but left him stranded at second base.

Reed Johnson bunted for a basehit leading off the fourth, but Randy Johnson got Derrek Lee on a flyout, Aramis Ramirez on a strikeout and Geovany Soto on a flyout.

Micah Owings replaced Johnson in the eighth. Edmonds walked to lead off, but pinch hitter Mike Fontenot flied out and another pinch hitter, Daryle Ward, grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.

Ryan Theriot greeted D'Backs reliever Chad Qualls with a walk in the ninth. Pinch hitter Kosuke Fukudome reached on an error by first baseman Chad Tracy, but Derrek Lee rolled into a double play, and Ramirez grounded out.

To show he wasn't kidding, Piniella had signs with "no batting practice" printed on them and had them posted at key clubhouse points.

"I thought we hit the ball good today, honestly," Lee said. "I know it didn't show, but I thought we hit the ball better than yesterday (a 9-0 win), honestly.

"Sometimes you've got to take b.p. off. B.P. sometimes is overrated. Change it up."