Cubs bust out against Braves
With Piniella absent, offense erupts in 13-hit attack
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella could sit back, relax, and enjoy this one from the comfort of his office.
The Cubs ended their six-game losing streak Sunday when Mark DeRosa drove in five runs, including four on a grand slam, and Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee each belted solo shots in a 10-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
"This is what we needed -- we needed to stop it any way we could," said bench coach Alan Trammell, the substitute manager for Piniella, who was suspended indefinitely for his actions Saturday when he argued a call at third base with umpire Mark Wegner.
How long Piniella will be sidelined was to be determined after he talks to Major League Baseball officials on Monday.
"People are saying, 'Nice going, Tram,'" Trammell said. "It's Lou's win and the Chicago Cubs' win. I mean, what did I do today, honestly?"
He didn't get ejected, and won his only argument, although Trammell didn't have to say anything. Soriano hit a ball into the basket in left that bounced back onto the field with two outs in the fifth, and was originally ruled a double. The umpires conferred and gave Soriano the home run, which opened a 5-0 lead.
Maybe Piniella's hat-kicking antics motivated the team?
"To me, that gave me more motivation if we have a manager like Lou fight for us," Soriano said. "I came back today with more energy because we have a manager who fights for us."
"I think Lou's ejection was two months of frustration, to be honest with you," DeRosa said. "It was a matter of time before that was coming. He wanted to light a spark under us. I know it worked for myself. It's been frustrating and depressing. We wanted to get the fans back on our side today. We wanted to relax and have fun and everybody in the lineup contributed today."
It's been quite a weekend, what with Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano scuffling in the Cubs dugout on Friday and Piniella's hat-kicking antics on Saturday.
"You don't see a fight every day in the dugout, so you have to deal with the questions and attention that brings," Lee said. "The ejection, we knew that was coming sooner or later, so that wasn't too big a deal. Our main concern was playing, and we did a good job playing today."
Sean Marshall (1-2) benefitted. The young lefty with the nasty curve matched his career-high with eight strikeouts and held the Braves to one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. In Marshall's 11 losses, dating back to last season, the Cubs had scored 10 runs. DeRosa made up for that with one swing.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the first on singles by Felix Pie, called up from Triple-A Iowa before the game, Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Jacque Jones then lined the ball to right and it hit Ramirez, who was out. DeRosa made up for it with his second career grand slam and sixth homer this season off a 3-2 pitch from Lance Cormier (0-1).
"I think the big thing was we got a big hit from DeRosa and boom, there you go," Lee said. "Everyone settled down after that. If [DeRosa] grounds out there and it's 0-0, you think, 'Man, another opportunity wasted.'"
Lee, the National League's leading hitter, added three more hits, including his sixth home run leading off the third for a 6-0 lead. He's now batting .361.
But wait -- there's more. In the Cubs' fifth, Soriano tripled to lead off and scored on Pie's bloop double to right. Cormier exited, and Lee greeted Oscar Villarreal with a single. One out later, Jones hit an RBI single and DeRosa added a sacrifice fly.
It's the most runs the Cubs have scored since an 11-6 win over the White Sox on May 19. During the six-game losing streak, they had averaged less than three runs a game.
Soriano and Pie were a combined 5-for-10, and together, hit for the cycle.
"He's like my brother here," Soriano said of the rookie outfielder. "I'm very excited for him."
"We have such a good offense," Lee said. "We can have days like this -- we just need to do it more consistently."
Hopefully, Piniella doesn't have to get thrown out soon to motivate the Cubs the rest of the season.
"It was good to see -- there was a little extra spark to get us going," Marshall said of the Cubs manager's outburst. "It was fun to watch, too. The fans liked it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.