Soriano's five hits lift Cubs past Crew
Slugger has four singles and three-run home run
MILWAUKEE -- At this rate, Lou Piniella may want to watch a few more games in street clothes.
Alfonso Soriano belted a three-run homer in the seventh inning, one of his five hits, to power the Cubs to a 7-2 victory Monday night over the Milwaukee Brewers and pull within 6 1/2 games of the division leaders.
"It's nice to see us having some smiles around here," Cubs interim manager Alan Trammell said.
Soriano notched his third homer in as many games to highlight a five-run seventh. He also singled in the first, third, fifth and ninth innings for his first five-hit game of the year and third of his career. He last did so Sept. 17, 2002, for the Yankees. It's the first five-hit game by a Cub since Ryan Theriot did so Aug. 30, 2006.
"I know I got five hits, but I think the home run was the most important hit I had in the game tonight," Soriano said.
With the Cubs trailing, 2-1, in the seventh, Michael Barrett walked, stole second -- his first steal since May 7, 2004 -- and advanced on Mark DeRosa's single before scoring on Cesar Izturis' single to chase starter Dave Bush (3-6). Pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd hit an RBI single, and Soriano launched a homer to left off Matt Wise, his seventh of the season.
"This guy is an offensive threat in more ways than one," Trammell said. "He can do it all. He had a nice night, and he's been hot here for a while. We need it. We need him to be the catalyst to get on base and steal some bases.
"I think when it's all said and done, he'll have one of those Alfonso Soriano years," Trammell said. "This guy is one of the elite players in baseball."
Wise, a changeup specialist, threw a good one to Soriano, who happens to be a low-ball hitter.
"I just looked at the replay and it probably would have been a ball if he took it," Wise said. "I know he's a low-ball hitter, but I'm a low-ball pitcher, and I'm not going to hang one up there on purpose. You tip your hat, really."
"If you look at the pitch Soriano hit out, that was unbelievable," Milwaukee's Geoff Jenkins said. "It was not even close. He's one of those guys in that crouch stance, and he handles that ball well."
Monday was Day 2 of Piniella's four-game suspension, issued for kicking umpire Mark Wegner and inciting the crowd on Saturday. Trammell now is 2-0 as the interim manager.
"He's still running the ship," Trammell said of Piniella, who watched along with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "It won't be that much different. And I hope they keep me out of it, to be honest."
Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first with a one-out RBI single, driving in Soriano. Prince Fielder, the National League Player of the Month for May, tied the game with two outs in the third on his National League-leading 20th home run.
Trammell played with Fielder's father, Cecil, in Detroit, and remembers an early batting practice session when 12-year-old Prince hit a home run at Tiger Stadium.
"He's a star in the making," Trammell said.
In the Milwaukee fourth, Bill Hall singled and was safe at second when DeRosa couldn't hold onto Ramirez's relay throw. Hall eventually scored on Corey Hart's single to go ahead 2-1. The Cubs were lucky to get the win after giving the Brewers so many opportunities.
"Tip your hat to Jason Marquis," Trammell said. "He kept us in the ballgame."
Marquis got some timely advice. The Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the first, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild went to the mound. Marquis then got Johnny Estrada to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Brewers loaded the bases again in the second, and again, Rothschild went to the mound. This time, Marquis got Bush to hit into a 1-2-3 double play. Hart then hit a sharp grounder to Ramirez, and he made the throw for the third out.
"Larry said some positive words," Marquis said. "Obviously, both times it turned out. He asked me if he should come out every inning.
"It turned out, and the defense made some great plays behind me."
The Cubs were sharp defensively in the first and second innings, but in the third, Estrada popped up and Marquis, Barrett, and the entire infield converged on the ball. Trouble is, no one apparently called it convincingly enough -- or caught it. Estrada was credited with an infield single.
"I didn't realize until I started to go up the mound that I was on the mound," Barrett said. "I was going to wait until somebody called me off, and I thought at the last minute somebody called me off."
"I heard a noise and saw everybody converging out of the corner of my eye," Marquis said. "Luckily it didn't hurt us this time."
This was Barrett's first game back since his dugout skirmish with teammate Carlos Zambrano on Friday, and it was an adventure. He was charged with a passed ball on a third strike, wasn't able to snare Estrada's popup on the mound, and stole a base. And, if you paid attention, he was wearing the hockey-style catcher's mask that he wore in 2005.
"After the passed ball when I hit Geoff Jenkins in the back [in the second], I started to relax," Barrett said. "I thought it was kind of funny. I haven't seen some of the things I've seen this year, ever. You just laugh it off -- unfortunately for him, he'll have a bruise on his back."
For someone who has had such mishaps on the bases, it was a surprise Barrett actually was safe on a steal.
"I was shocked I made it," Barrett said. "I was asking, 'Was that a foul tip?' It couldn't possibly be a stolen base."
Soriano, booed at Wrigley Field last week, heard nothing but cheers from the Chicagoans who migrated north for the game at Miller Park. He's now batting .407 (22-for-54) in his last 12 games.
"It's part of the game," Soriano said of the fans' reactions. "I never take it personally. I just try to do my job on the field."
The Cubs have won two in a row for the first time since May 18-19.
"I'm not going to say we're hot," Trammell said, "but it's better than a losing streak."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.