Cubs find unlikely heroes in Silva, Soriano
Starter allows two hits; outfielder goes 3-for-4 with homer, triple
NEW YORK -- Who would've guessed Carlos Silva would be leading the Cubs in wins or that Alfonso Soriano would come so close to hitting for the cycle.
Soriano hit a two-run homer, a triple and added an RBI single to back Silva and lead the Cubs to a 9-3 victory Wednesday night over the New York Mets, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella gave the players a short pep talk before the game.
"It took about 20 seconds," Piniella said. "I told them to relax and have fun."
"We had a good meeting and really nice words from Lou," Silva said. "I saw a different team today. Everybody was screaming, laughing. I think we had fun a little bit today. Hopefully, we continue. We have an unbelievable team. We just have to put everything together and just keep trusting ourselves."
Silva (2-0), who turns 31 on Friday, now has given up two earned runs over 19 innings for a 0.95 ERA in his three starts. He picked up his first win against a National League East team since June 23, 2007, when he beat Florida in an Interleague contest while with the Minnesota Twins. This also is the first time he has won consecutive starts since winning his third and fourth games in 2008.
And he did it even though he tweaked his right wrist on his first at-bat. The only pitch that was altered because of his wrist, Silva said, was his breaking ball.
"Thank God for the three good starts," he said. "I still have a little problem with my shoulder and everything. [God] knows what I went through the last few years. I'm a guy who never gives up. Everything happens for a reason, and thank God everything has gone well, but it's a long, long season."
In the first 2 1/2 weeks, the right-hander has topped his win total from all of 2009, when he went 1-3 in eight games with Seattle, including six starts. He held the Mets to one run, two hits and walked two, and did so efficiently, throwing 87 pitches.
"One thing I focused on was trying to be aggressive and get ahead in the count," Silva said.
Silva did serve up Rod Barajas' third homer with one out in the second, but the Cubs tied the game in the third. Ryan Theriot was safe on a fielding error by third baseman David Wright and, two batters later, scored on Marlon Byrd's sacrifice fly. Byrd also added a two-run single in the ninth.
Soriano, reprimanded by Piniella for not running out a double that could've been a triple on Monday, legged out a triple to lead off the fourth and scored on Geovany Soto's single. Soto, however, was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit. It was Soriano's first triple since Aug. 19, 2009, at San Diego, which was his only one last year.
Soriano added a two-out RBI single in the fifth, driving in Byrd, who had doubled. Byrd walked to lead off the seventh to set up Soriano's homer. Soriano leads the team with six doubles and needed another to complete the cycle, which would've been the first by a Cubs player since Mark Grace did so May 9, 1993, against San Diego. But Soriano flew out to right in his last at-bat in the eighth.
"I got [the double] last night but not tonight," Soriano said. "The more important thing is the win tonight. I think that's what the team needed."
Soriano said he felt good and felt comfortable with his legs, which helped with his baserunning. The left fielder is batting .464 in his last nine games, with three walks, five doubles, one triple, one homer and five RBIs.
"I'm seeing the ball very good," Soriano said. "I've been working with Rudy [Jaramillo, hitting coach] every day in the cage. That's what I want to be is comfortable at home plate and swing at strikes."
"It's an encouraging sign," Piniella said of Soriano. "We need a few of them to get hot."
Aramis Ramirez has definitely cooled off. The third baseman was batting .131 with 21 strikeouts, and Piniella said he'll get the day off Thursday to work with Jaramillo.
The eighth inning was a little troublesome again. Luis Castillo hit a RBI triple and scored on Wright's single off Sean Marshall. The Chicago bullpen has given up 30 runs over 44 innings for a 6.14 ERA, and opponents have outscored the Cubs in the eighth alone, 18-8. They had enough of a cushion by then.
"You score runs," Piniella said, "you've got a chance to win."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.