Cubs exercise 2009 option for Harden

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The Chicago Cubs exercised the 2009 option for pitcher Rich Harden on Wednesday.

Harden, 26, was acquired from the Oakland Athletics on July 8 along with pitcher Chad Gaudin, for four players.

After coming to Chicago, Harden went 5-1 with a 1.77 earned-run average and limited hitters to a .149 average after the All-Star break, which led all starters in the majors.

In a combined 25 starts with Oakland and the Cubs last season, he went 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts and set a career-high with 181 strikeouts. His 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings and .183 batting average against led all pitchers in the majors with at least 25 starts.

Chicago limited Harden's work down the stretch in the regular season as he made only two starts after September 11. He pitched in Game 3 of Chicago's 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series, allowing three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Cubs were swept by the Dodgers.

The oft-injured righty has not made 30 starts in a season since making 31 in 2004. He made only 13 combined starts in 2006 and 2007 while suffering from back and arm issues.

Harden sports career numbers of 41-20 with a 3.23 ERA in 109 appearances in six seasons.

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