CHICAGO (AP) -In 89 starts with Oakland,
struck out 10 or more batters twice. In eight starts with the Cubs, he's racked up double-digit strikeouts five times.
Talk about a changeup.
Harden matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts on Sunday,
homered for the fourth straight game and the streaking
took their eighth straight series with a 6-1 win over the
Harden, 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA since his July 8 trade from Oakland, continued to dominate National League hitters.
Where did it come from?
''I don't know,'' he said. ''I think definitely you have to give a lot of credit to (catcher Geovany) Soto. We've been working
pretty well together. I'm comfortable with him behind the plate. I think a lot of it is mixing up pitches, keeping them guessing.''
Harden relies on his fastball-changeup combination, and can finish with a diving, split-finger fastball or the occasional
slider. Whatever he's doing seems to be working. Harden has struck out 21 in 14 innings, with zero walks, in his last two
''When he doesn't get behind in the count and throw a lot of balls it's tough,'' said Nationals third baseman
, who struck out all three times he faced Harden. ''He can throw anywhere from 88 to 91 and kind of sink it. He can come with
95 to 97. It's just tough to pick up. He throws everything from the same arm angle.''
Backed by three home runs, Chicago (80-50) moved 30 games over .500, while the Nationals managed just four hits and lost their
fifth straight series.
''We really rode the long ball today,'' Cubs manager
DeRosa became the first Cubs player to homer in four straight games since
did it in September 2001, and outfielder
showed signs of ending his hitting funk when he drove a pinch-hit homer to right in the eighth. He was hitless in his last
four games, continuing his second-half swoon that saw his average dip to .262.
Fukudome watched video of himself with Piniella before the game and then went to the batting cages with coach
and hitting coach
''He's a good pupil,'' Piniella said. ''We wanted to shorten his stride. It's a simple, little thing, getting his hands set
a little quicker, so his swing is shorter, more compact and into the ball.''
While Piniella credited the meeting for Fukudome's homer, the veteran Japanese hitter wasn't so sure.
''Lou gave me his point-of-view on what he thought I should change,'' Fukudome said through a translator. ''I was able to
work on it a little bit in the cage, but during the game, I can't think of stuff like that while I'm at bat. So I wasn't able
to fully introduce what he told me.''
The Cubs took a 3-0 lead in the second against
. DeRosa led off with his 18th homer,
walked and Soto hit a 3-1 pitch to left for his 19th homer. DeRosa has turned into a run-producing machine, extending career-high
marks in homers and RBIs (77). He's hitting .390 with seven homers and 22 RBIs over his last 17 games.
''I can't explain them, to be honest with you,'' he said of his homer streak. ''I'm getting pitches to drive and I'm not missing
provided the Nationals' only offense with a solo homer that fell just inside the foul pole in left in the third. Three of
the game's first four hits were home runs, an oddity on a day when the wind was blowing in at 10 mph.
Harden struck out the side in the seventh to tie his career-high, which he also accomplished with Oakland earlier this season.
He gave up two hits in seven innings.
Bergmann (2-10) gave up four runs, four hits and four walks. He was solid for a while after the Cubs' three-run second, giving
up only one hit - a wind-aided bloop double by
in the sixth - until
doubled with one out in the seventh.
''After (the second), my curveball took over,'' Bergmann said. ''I just kept throwing it because it was effective.''
The slumping Fukudome then came to the plate, hearing some boos thanks to his .145 average in August, and took two balls from
before sending his ninth homer to the bleachers in right.
loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but struck out
looking with a slider.
Notes: Cubs 1B
sat with upper back spasms after aggravating a lingering injury. Lee said he suffers occasional spasms in his neck and the
left side of his upper back, but it rarely causes him to miss time.
started at first base for Lee for only the third time this season. ... Soto tied
for most home runs by a Cubs rookie catcher. ... DeRosa improved his career-high home run total. ... Harden struck out 11
against Philadelphia on June 26.