Soriano belts one of Cubs' four homers in win
Slugger hits fifth of spring; Mather, Stewart, Jackson go deep
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alfonso Soriano hit his Cactus League-leading fifth home run, this one off of Rangers starter Colby Lewis, to help lead the Cubs to an 11-4 victory at Surprise Stadium on Thursday afternoon.Lewis, expected to be the Rangers' Opening Day starter, allowed six runs over five innings. Lewis, who led the American League in home runs allowed in 2010, also gave up a two-run home run to Joe Mather in the second inning. He allowed nine hits and a walk with three strikeouts. "I felt like I threw the ball really good today," Lewis said. "For me, it's just getting the feel, and I have good feel for all my pitches. I'm not too concerned with results."
Cubs starter Matt Garza, competing with Ryan Dempster for the Opening Day assignment, allowed three runs in five innings. All three runs were unearned as the Cubs committed three errors in five innings behind him. Garza allowed two hits, walked three and struck out three.
Mather was 3-for-3 and is hitting .421 for the spring. Third baseman Ian Stewart had a home run off reliever Mark Lowe and also made a terrific backhanded stop on Craig Gentry's hard grounder in the seventh. Gentry is fast, but Stewart threw him out from his knees.The Cubs added four runs in the seventh, including two on Brett Jackson's second homer of the spring.
Michael Young had a single for the Rangers to give him a nine-game hitting streak.The Cubs are 3-1-1 in their last five games after snapping a seven-game losing streak. The Rangers are 2-8-1 in their last 11 games with both wins coming against the Cubs.
Up next for Cubs: Jeff Samardzija, a leading candidate for one of the two openings in the rotation, will make his third start and fourth spring appearance on Friday when the Cubs face the Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz., at 3:10 p.m. CT. Samardzija has not walked a batter over 10 innings so far. The game can be heard on an exclusive free webcast on cubs.com.
Up next for Rangers: Right-hander Alexi Ogando pitches for the Rangers on Friday night at 9:05 CT against the Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz., in a game that can be seen on MLB.TV. Ogando is scheduled to pitch five innings. Derek Holland will pitch in a Minor League game. The Rangers are trying to keep Ogando stretched out in case he is needed in the rotation but is more likely to be in the bullpen.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.