Cubs wait all night, then walk off with win
Soriano seals sweep in 10th after Soto ties game at 1 in ninth
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano may lose an occasional ball in the sun, but he hasn't lost his flare for the dramatic.
Pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot doubled and scored on Soriano's walk-off single with one out in the 10th inning to power the Cubs to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and complete a sweep Wednesday night.
"Soriano is a pro," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's a battler. He has that ability, just to stay up and keep on trucking, performing. Tonight I was happy for him. A big clutch hit, and he got us a win."
Soriano gave people something to talk about besides the dropped fly ball on Sunday in Pittsburgh that led to a game-tying run, and the Cubs' eventual 11-inning loss to the Pirates. That play prompted criticism from everybody, including the Cubs' home broadcasters. Asked if this has been a tough week, Soriano just smiled.
"Not really," he said. "Anything can happen in the game. I play the game, and something happens. I'm ready to play and I love the game, and that's important for me."
Fontenot connected against Chan Ho Park (1-1), and Soriano took four pitches, including two strikes, and then lofted the ball into left to score him.
"That at-bat was very confusing," Soriano said. "I don't think they wanted to pitch anything close. I took a couple pitches, and I said to myself, 'I don't want to swing until I have two strikes.' I wanted to make sure I swung at a good pitch. I swung at the last one, and I got a hit."
He was mobbed by his teammates at home plate. They've all forgotten Sunday's game.
"A ball in the sun is a ball in the sun," Chicago second baseman Mark DeRosa said. "[Soriano's] a gamer, man. Just when you think he's down and out, he gets a huge knock for us. He's really the only guy who had quality at-bats all night."
DeRosa wasn't aware of the criticism fired at Soriano since Sunday's game.
"[The broadcasters] have an opinion -- they're not going to sit there and have it be a love fest all year long," DeRosa said. "If you don't come through in big situations, you expect to be booed from time to time. Sori, he's so mentally tough. What a big hit for us and what a big win for the team."
|"[Soriano's] a gamer, man. Just when you think he's down and out, he gets a huge knock for us."|
|-- Mark DeRosa|
"I knew what [Saito] was trying to do, and sometimes you don't get it done," DeRosa said.
Soriano did. So did Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs starter gave up one run on six hits and four walks over eight innings, and was able to induce double plays to escape jams in the first, second and sixth.
He got in trouble in the fourth. The Dodgers had runners at first and second with two outs when he hit Matt Kemp in the back with a pitch to load the bases, then walked Blake DeWitt to force in a run.
"I don't know what happened," Zambrano said. "I lost my command. It's weird because in that inning, I haven't felt like that since two or three years ago that I lost my command. I tried to be too rushed, too perfect."
The Dodgers loaded the bases again with two outs in the eighth, and Piniella went to the mound to check on Big Z. Zambrano stayed, and got Kemp looking at strike three on his 130th pitch of the game. It was the second-highest number of pitches for Zambrano in a game -- he threw 136 on May 8, 2005.
"I knew he would give me the chance to finish the eighth inning," Zambrano said. "There's a good relationship and a good confidence that he has in myself."
As Piniella walked off the field, he said something to Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa.
"I let the fans make that decision," Piniella said about pulling Big Z. "I told Larry, 'Boy, I know how to make decisions that please the fans.' I wasn't going to take him out, unless he'd told me he was tired. It was a cool night, and we've watched his pitch counts very carefully all year."
With the win, the Cubs are 22-8 at Wrigley Field, their best start at home since 1977, and are tied with Atlanta for most wins at home in the Major Leagues. They evened the all-time record against the Dodgers to 1,010-1,010, and are tied with Tampa Bay for the best record in the Major Leagues.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.