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Johnson gives Cubs walk-off win in 11th

Johnson gives Cubs walk-off win

CHICAGO -- Rich Harden won over Cubs fans, but Carlos Marmol may have lost a few in what Lou Piniella hopes was a good learning experience.

Harden struck out 10 over 5 1/3 shutout innings in his Cubs debut, and was in line for the win Saturday but did not get a decision, as Reed Johnson hit a walk-off RBI single with one out in the 11th inning to give Chicago an 8-7 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

The Cubs had opened a 7-0 lead, more than enough for Harden, acquired Tuesday from the Oakland Athletics. The right-hander notched his third career double-digit strikeout game, and second this year, and the crowd of 41,555 appreciated the effort, giving him a standing ovation as he exited after 5 1/3 scoreless innings.

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The Giants closed to 7-2 in the eighth, but the Cubs were still confident.

"When you've got a five-run lead, the thought pretty much with the players and everyone in the stands, is the game is over," Johnson said. "Any time you lose one like that, it makes it good that you end up winning the ballgame. But at the same time, you want to get Harden the win. He pitched great in his Cubs debut. I'm sure that won't be the last great outing he has."

The Cubs need to get Marmol back to his "great" status. The Giants batted around in the ninth against Marmol, collecting five runs on five hits, one walk and a hit batter in the inning.

Ivan Ochoa doubled to lead off, and one out later, Jose Castillo hit a chopper toward the pitcher who booted the ball, and the Giants had runners at first and third. Marmol then served up a pair of RBI singles, walked a batter, and gave up a run-scoring fielder's choice. Marmol hit the next batter, and shortstop Ryan Theriot fielded pinch-hitter Eliezer Alfonzo's RBI single, and then threw it wildly for an error, allowing a run to score.

Suddenly, the game was tied at 7.

"One thing led to another and, all of a sudden, we had three men on," Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said. "Everything got away from us. It was a bad day. [Marmol's] back was a little stiff out there. Everybody goes out there trying to do well, and unfortunately, it wasn't his day."

Piniella didn't have Kerry Wood available. He's bothered by a blister that will prevent him from pitching in the All-Star Game Tuesday.

"We felt with the right-hand hitters coming up, [Marmol] could make one pitch to get out of it," Piniella said. "He's done it in the past. Today, it just didn't happen. I'm not going to lose confidence in the guy -- he's done too well here. I think this rest at the break will do well."

Marmol chose not to speak to reporters.

"Let me tell you what I hope he learned from today," Piniella said. "He had a little chopper [by Castillo], and in trying to avoid a run scoring from third base, he boots the ball instead of just making a nice, easy play. Let them get a run in, get the second out, and toss the ball to Derrek Lee. That was the inning as far as I was concerned.

"Forget the run -- you've got a five-run lead, all you want are outs in the eighth and ninth innings. You don't need spectacular things, all you need are outs. He tried to prevent a run from scoring, and five scored."

The Cubs did score in the 11th. Sean Marshall (2-2) singled to lead off, and advanced when Mark DeRosa walked but was forced at third on Mike Fontenot's fielder's choice. Johnson drove a pitch from Brian Wilson (0-2) to right and DeRosa slid home just ahead of the throw for the game-winning run.

"My first couple at-bats, I didn't feel that great, and was just feeling for it," Johnson said. "The last at-bat, I got the good part of the bat on the ball and it ended up working out."

The Cubs opened their early lead thanks to Jim Edmonds, who drove in four runs, hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the third, his 10th, and a two-run double in the fourth.

"There's 24 other guys wishing we were going to win that game just to make Marmol feel better," Johnson said. "He's been unbelievable for us. We wouldn't be where we are if we didn't have him."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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