CC tops Rockies in Brewers debut |

CC tops Rockies in Brewers debut

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) throws with Colorado Rockies' Willy Taveras on second during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 8, 2008, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE ” CC Sabathia was a little wild in his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers, but still delivered as advertised in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Sabathia (1-0) gave up two earned runs and five hits over six innings in his first outing since being traded by Cleveland on Monday. The reigning AL Cy Young winner walked five, tying the season high he set back in April.

Now it remains to be seen whether the tight end-sized left-hander can pair with incumbent ace Ben Sheets to power the Brewers past the Chicago Cubs ” who delivered a quick counterpunch to Milwaukee’s trade for Sabathia by prying Rich Harden from Oakland in a trade Tuesday.

Showcasing everything from a 96 mph fastball to offspeed pitches that dipped into the low 80s in front of a sellout crowd of 42,533, Sabathia kept the Rockies grounded early. He allowed only five balls to escape the infield through his first five innings: a double, two singles, and two flyouts as the Brewers took a 4-1 lead.

But Sabathia got in trouble in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs on an infield single by Matt Holliday and walks to Garrett Atkins and Ryan Spillborghs.

Yorvit Torrealba doubled down the right-field line, scoring Holliday and Atkins. Spillborghs came up limping at third with a strained left oblique and was taken out of the game for pinch-runner Scott Podsednik.

But Sabathia got out of the inning without giving up the lead. He reacted quickly to catch a line drive off the bat of Jayson Nix and threw to third to double up Podsednik. After issuing another walk, Sabathia struck out pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe on a 96 mph fastball to end the inning.

Sabathia reacted emphatically, yelling and pumping his fist as he walked off the mound. He was replaced by reliever David Riske ” an old buddy from his Cleveland days ” in the sixth, and the Brewers’ bullpen held on for the victory as Milwaukee added three runs in the seventh.

Ryan Braun hit his 22nd homer in the first, a three-run drive deep to left off Rockies starter Mark Redman. A botched double play by the Rockies led to another Milwaukee run in the third.

Sabathia was touched for an unearned run in the fourth, after two singles and an apparent missed tag at second base loaded the bases with no outs. Sabathia got Nix to ground into a double play, but Atkins scored from third to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-1.

Redman (2-4) gave up five hits and four runs in five innings.

Holliday extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games with an infield single in the sixth.

CHICAGO ” One day after the Milwaukee Brewers landed an ace, the Chicago Cubs answered.

Intent on ending their 100-year drought without a World Series title, the NL Central leaders acquired talented right-hander Rich Harden in a six-player deal with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.

With CC Sabathia going to Milwaukee, Harden was the best available pitcher, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.

“We felt that the two high end guys who would possibly be available were the two that have already been traded. Those are legit one and two starters. So we tried to focus on trying to acquire one,” Hendry said.

“It certainly wasn’t a reaction move. We would have gladly had Rich two or three weeks ago.”

The Cubs began play Tuesday 3 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals and four in front of the Brewers in the NL Central.

The Cubs can now match Milwaukee’s one-two combination of Sabathia and Ben Sheets with All-Star Carlos Zambrano and Harden.

Athletics general manager Billy Beane said trading Harden doesn’t mean his team is in selling mode. Oakland began the day six games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and 3 1/2 behind the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race.

“I don’t necessarily think we’ve taken a step back. I think we’ve taken a step forward for the next three to five years,” Beane said. “We were balancing that the club’s playing well but also keeping in mind that we’ve had numerous injuries over the last week. “

Hendry also talked with the Indians about Sabathia and said conversations with Beane about Harden have been ongoing for three or four weeks.

“I knew Rich was going to make his start Sunday, no matter what. At the same time, my chats with [Indians GM] Mark Shapiro, I think if he liked the deal he got he was going to try to do it before CC’s turn. It had nothing to do with the timing,” Hendry added.

“I heard it was going to happen. Still it’s always a surprise,” Harden said. “It’s a bit of a shock but it will be good. They’ve got a good team and a chance of doing something special.”

Chicago also got right-hander Chad Gaudin, who pitched previously for Cubs manager Lou Piniella in Tampa Bay, and sent promising right-hander Sean Gallagher, outfielders Matt Murton and Eric Patterson and minor leaguer Josh Donaldson to the A’s.

Harden, eligible to be a free agent after the 2009 season, is 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts this season. He’s scheduled to make $4.75 million this season.

“We will have the rights for a year and a half, so that’s the other advantage of him not being a free agent,” Hendry said. “He has an option that could vest, or we could pick up the option or we could arbitrate. So he certainly has a chance to be a Cub through the end of next year.”

The oft-injured Harden missed a month earlier this season because of a right shoulder strain. It was his sixth trip to the disabled list in his six-year career.

“Obviously there’s some risk involved. He’s missed some time but he’s never had any surgery,” Hendry said. “We did extensive work with their doctors.”

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