Cubs stay hot thanks to big bats
Early home run by Floyd helps Chicago take series over Rox
CHICAGO -- Everything was clicking on Tuesday night for the Cubs.
The offense gave the team an early lead, starter Ted Lilly threw six solid innings, and the bullpen did its job as the Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies, 8-5, for their fifth straight win.
The streak matches the longest of the season for the Cubs, who find themselves only two games below .500.
Cliff Floyd hit a towering two-run homer in the first, Alfonso Soriano had two hits and scored two runs, and Koyie Hill hit a two-run double in the fifth to pace the offensive attack.
"We're starting to score more runs, and we're starting to get some timelier hits," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We should start scoring runs with a little more consistency.
Ted Lilly (6-4) gave up four runs on six hits in six innings for the win. Lilly had five strikeouts, but struggled with his control.
"I definitely didn't have my best stuff," Lilly said. "I wasn't throwing my fastball for strikes, and my changeup was missing a lot. It was just one of those games where you battle, and fortunately there were some guys that made some unbelievable plays."
One of those unbelievable plays was a defensive gem by Soriano in the third. Troy Tulowitzki hit a hard line drive over Soriano's head in left that caromed off the wall. Tulowitzki thought he had a double, but Soriano had other plans. He played the ball perfectly off the wall, rifled it in to second, and got Tulowitzki by several feet.
"I don't blame him for trying to stretch it into two," Lilly said. "But you've seen [Soriano] do that quite a few times where he just gets the ball in so quickly, and his throws just about everytime are right on the money and give you a chance to get a guy.
"When you've got guys like that playing behind you, that's how you win those games when you're scuffling," Lilly continued.
Soriano leads the NL with 10 assists on the season.
"He's starting to hit, and he's starting to run, he made a great throw to second base from the ivy," Piniella said of Soriano. "He's playing really good baseball."
The entire offense played good baseball, with every starter registering a hit.
Soriano singled to lead off the first, stole second, advanced on a groundout, and scored one batter later on Aramis Ramirez's double. Floyd then hit his fourth homer of the season to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
Soriano and Mike Fontenot hit back-to-back doubles to open the fourth to go ahead 4-0.
The Cubs batted around in the fifth. Mark DeRosa hit an RBI single, Koyie Hill had a two-run double, and Felix Pie hit an RBI single to put the Cubs ahead, 8-3.
"For me, it's all coming together," Floyd said about the team's performance lately. "Hopefully, it sticks around for awhile."
The only downside for the Cubs on Tuesday was that Ryan Dempster was placed on the 15-day disabled list, which means the Cubs will be without their closer for a while.
But the bullpen was solid without him. Michael Wuertz threw two solid innings of relief, and Carlos Marmol entered in the ninth to try to seal the win.
Marmol gave up a leadoff double to Jamey Carroll, who scored on pinch-hitter Cory Sullivan's single. Willy Taveras singled, and the potential tying run was at the plate. But Marmol didn't buckle. He struck out Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday, and was ready to face Todd Helton, but Piniella opted for Will Ohman instead.
"He was disappointed that I took him out of the ballgame," Piniella said. "I like that. He wanted to get the final out."
Ohman got Helton to pop out to end the game. With the victory came Ohman's first career save. When asked what he was thinking about as he entered the game, Ohman's response was simple.
"Don't let him get a hit," Ohman said. "I wanted an out, pretty much any way I could do it. If I had to roll it up there I would have."
Piniella will most likely rotate between Marmol, Ohman and Bob Howry, who was unavailable after pitching the last three days, while Dempster is out.
The Cubs will certainly miss their closer, who has 16 saves on the season. But they have won their last four without Dempster available, and everything seems to be clicking at the right time.
"We've got 15 wins in June," Ohman said. "We're just going to keep going with that, and hopefully it just continues to build."
Marc Zarefsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.