- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CHICAGO (AP) - Rookie Micah Hoffpauir homered and hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, Rich Harden pitched six strong innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 Tuesday night.

Hoffpauir, playing in place of the injured Milton Bradley, hit solo homer in the second inning to tie the score at 1, and his sacrifice fly drove in the first run in a three-run fifth that broke a 2-2 tie.

Harden (1-1), coming off of a poor outing in which he struggled with his control, gave up three hits and walked two whiles striking out eight. He threw the same number of pitches _ 92 _ in this start as he had over three innings of the Cubs’ 5-2 loss to Colorado last Wednesday.

Micah Owings (0-2), undermined by the Reds’ bad defense and relief pitching, gave up five runs _ two earned _ and five hits in 4 2-3 innings.

At 29 and in his eighth year with the Cubs organization, Hoffpauir finally got to open a season in the majors and is batting .375. He’s playing only because Bradley, signed to a three-year, $30 million deal as a free agent in the offseason, has been out since April 13 with a sore groin.

Bradley had been expected to play Tuesday but manager Lou Piniella opted against it due to cold, rainy conditions at Wrigley Field.

Chicago batted around in the fifth to break open the tie game. Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome drew one-out walks and the Cubs loaded the bases when left fielder Chris Dickerson dropped Derrek Lee’s fly for an error.

Hoffpauir’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2 and Aramis Ramirez chased Owings with an RBI single. Reliever Mike Lincoln immediately hit Mike Fontenot with a pitch and walked Geovany Soto, forcing in a run for a 5-2 Cubs lead.

Ramirez closed out the scoring with a two-run single in the sixth.

Jay Bruce homered for Cincinnati in the second and Hoffpauir answered in the bottom of the inning with his first home run this season.

Ryan Theriot’s RBI single put the Cubs up 2-1 before Bruce tied it again with a run-scoring single in the fourth.

[email protected]: When a cat ran onto the field during the fourth inning, delaying the game for several minutes, WGN-TV cameras panned to former Cubs star Ron Santo in the broadcast booth. Back in 1969, a black cat crossed Santo’s path at Shea Stadium and Chicago went on to squander a huge division lead to the Mets _ an enduring symbol of the Cubs’ futile century. Tuesday’s tabby had only a few black spots. … Bruce was in Cincinnati’s lineup for the first time in four days; his hand had been swollen after getting hit by a pitch. … It was the season’s first home night game for the Cubs, who were 20-8 under the Wrigley lights in 2008. … Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is hitless in his last 21 at-bats.

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