Soriano swings, Lilly makes 'em miss
Outfielder connects again for leadoff homer; pitcher fans 11
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano and Ted Lilly are both riding hot streaks.
Soriano and Geovany Soto each homered and drove in three runs, and Lilly reached double-digit strikeouts for the second straight start to power the Cubs to an 8-5 victory Wednesday night over the San Diego Padres.
Lilly (4-4), who struck out 10 in his last outing against Arizona, fanned 11 over six innings, the first time he has posted back to back double-digit strikeout games in his career. The lefty gave up four runs on six hits, and improved to 3-0 this month.
"I feel like tonight, my stuff was as good as it's been," Lilly said. "I made some mistakes and some costly ones, and fortunately our guys are tough outs. Our lineup, one through eight -- I wasn't very useful today -- but the rest of the guys faced one of the best pitchers in the game today and really made him work every inning he was out there."
At the plate, Lilly struck out twice, but was safe on a wild pitch in the second. He also successfully executed a sacrifice in the fifth. The lefty borrowed a bat from teammate Kosuke Fukudome.
"The one he gave me had a hole in it," Lilly said, smiling, "and the one he had was pretty good."
Fukudome, by the way, went 3-for-5 with a double, and scored two runs. He may be moving up in the order to No. 2 with the addition of left-handed-hitting outfielder Jim Edmonds, who is expected to make his Cubs debut on Thursday. That will be Thursday's headline.
On Wednesday, Soriano got things started with a bang for the second straight game. He connected against defending NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy (4-3) for his sixth homer this season, and 46th career first-inning leadoff blast, most among active players and third all-time behind Rickey Henderson (81) and Craig Biggio (53).
Fukudome, who had faced Peavy in the World Baseball Classic, doubled to start the Chicago second. Two outs later, Reed Johnson walked and Lilly was safe on a wild pitch on a third strike to load the bases. Soriano delivered a two-run single to make it 3-0, and now is 11-for-23 with eight RBIs in his last five games.
"Alfonso is a bit streaky," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "One thing is, when he gets hot, he stays hot for a period of time. He's been swinging the bat more consistently, and now he's starting to add power to the equation."
What's the difference?
"I'm swinging at strikes," Soriano said. "Sometimes I swing at bad pitches. Every day, I try to see the ball good and swing at strikes."
Improving his pitch selection at home plate definitely helps quiet some of Soriano's critics.
"It's part of the game," said Soriano, who has been razzed by fans early this season. "Sometimes the people talk bad and the fans boo. That's motivation for me. It makes me work hard to make myself a better player and that's what I try to do."
Soto hit a RBI single in the third to pad the lead. Peavy exited after four innings. The right-hander came into the game ranked among the NL leaders in ERA and and strikeouts, and he struck out eight.
"He's an excellent pitcher," Piniella said. "Tonight, we made him throw a lot of pitches, and the guys were selective and they got to him."
Lilly is looking like the 15-game winner he was a year ago. But, a power pitcher?
"I don't think I stand up there and try to throw fastballs by guys," Lilly said. "I have to mix my pitches and change speeds and locate the ball and things like that. When I've got my curveball going, I think I'm going to get some strikeouts going, but I'm not going to say I'm a power pitcher."
Piniella liked it.
"You can't make errors when you strike people out," Piniella said. "A good mix is eight or nine strikeouts, eight or nine popups, and eight or nine ground balls. That's a real nice mix, but that's hard to do.
"I like strikeouts. I think the fans like them -- I like them when our pitchers strike people out."
Soto hit an RBI single in the third, and a two-run homer in the fifth. Aramis Ramirez and Johnson added RBI doubles in the sixth and seventh, respectively. Carlos Marmol pitched two perfect innings, but the Padres added a run in the ninth against Kerry Wood to end the Cubs' bullpen scoreless streak at 19 innings.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.