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ARI@CHC: Soriano launches a solo homer deep to left

CHICAGO -- Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood both wanted to pitch Monday for the third straight day, and both got a chance. At this rate, they'll both appear in 100-plus games.

Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer in as many days and added a late RBI single to back Randy Wells and lift the Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the D-backs. Wells (1-0) got the win but give the bullpen an assist. The Cubs' last three games have been decided by two runs or fewer, and Wood and Marmol have pitched in all three.

"It'd be OK if we came out and took a 10-0 lead tomorrow," Cubs manager Mike Quade said, laughing. "Just keep playing. If nothing else in these four games, they've done that. They pick each other up and they do a lot of things I like. We've got to get better and we still have plenty of work to do, but at least the approach and attitude out of the chute has been good."

Wells served up six hits and walked four over six innings. The right-hander had to battle this spring to win a spot in the rotation, and he didn't make it easy on himself in the game. He served up a leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist, a leadoff single to Miguel Montero in the second and walked the leadoff batters in the fourth and fifth innings.

"He just needs to stay focused and hit the glove," Quade said. "You say that a lot with pitchers, but given his sinker and given his repertoire, it's so important he keeps the ball down in the zone and just hits the glove pitch after pitch. He did that all spring in a very tough place to pitch. He's still evolving, too."

The key for Wells is location. Unfortunately, his fourth pitch of the game was in a spot that Bloomquist liked, and he launched it into the left-field bleachers.

"The home run was a mistake," Wells said. "First hitter of the game, you don't want to walk him, and I get behind 2-1 and tried to get a fastball away and it leaped out over the middle, and he put a good swing on it. That's not the end of the world -- a solo home run. You start the game over and go back to work."

Soriano tied the game with a leadoff blast in the Chicago third off Joe Saunders (0-1), his second homer in as many games. The Cubs left fielder didn't hit his second homer until his 15th game last season.

With one out in the Chicago fourth, Marlon Byrd was safe on an infield single and Aramis Ramirez singled. Geovany Soto walked to load the bases and Carlos Pena followed with a sacrifice fly to right.

The D-backs loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, taking advantage of a throwing error by Starlin Castro, but Wood got Ryan Roberts looking at strike three and Gerardo Parra to fly out. Wood denied lobbying to pitch Monday.

"Early on, it's OK," the right-hander said about going three straight days, something he did once last year, June 27-29. "[Quade] asked right away this morning. I don't think he'll use me tomorrow."

Ramirez and Soto hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the eighth to make it 3-1, and Soto tallied on Soriano's single to right. That opposite-field hit felt better than the home run, Soriano said.

"That [RBI single] is more important for me," Soriano said. "I know I can hit homers, but with two outs, an RBI -- that's very important. That's good for me and for the team."

Soriano batted .429 against the D-backs last season with five home runs and 13 RBIs in seven games.

"Well, I guess we've got to change some things up," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's very formidable, he's a good player, he's been playing the game for a long time and he's done very well against us. We'll try to do things differently to get him out. They just out-executed us offensively."

After blowing a save situation on Sunday, Marmol said he would strike out the side on Monday. He wasn't that efficient, but he did get the job done for his second save in four games.

"I feel very good so far," said Marmol, who pitched three days in a row three times last year. "I don't know how it'll be tomorrow."

The game was played in front of a sparse announced crowd of 26,292, the first time the Cubs didn't top 27,000 at home since Sept. 26, 2002, when the team drew 20,032. Those who came braved 47 degrees and a 15-mph northwest wind.

"It surprised me today," Soriano said of the small crowd. "Monday, cold weather, people don't want to get out of their house. When it gets warm, people will come to the game."

The birds came. Byrd had a tough time catching Upton's ball in center for the final out because of a flock of seagulls flying around the outfield. He had to crouch low to pick up the white ball among the white birds.

"It looked like they were going to hit a ball, but you have to play the elements," Byrd said. "I'm fine with it. As long as they come and we're doing high-fives at the end of the game, it doesn't bother me." Comments