Cardinals overcome Cubs’ power surge
Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:00 pm
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Alfonso Soriano rediscovered his power stroke. Off hard-throwing Jason Motte, too.
The Chicago Cubs hope to see a few more longballs in the near future.
Soriano’s first home run of the season ended a 119 at-bat drought and tied it in the ninth Tuesday. The Cubs lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 on Yadier Molina’s two-out single off the glove of second baseman Darwin Barney in the bottom half of the inning.
Soriano hit 26 home runs last year, but had gone more than a month without one this season.
“That was nice,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He hit it off one of the best closers in the game. Hopefully, that’s the one that will get him going and he has one of those hot home run streaks.”
With or without the long ball, he’s been contributing with an RBI in five of the last six games.
“I feel very good,” Soriano said. “It was a very good pitch away.”
Molina’s single against Rafael Dolis (2-3) let the Cardinals avoid a sweep and an 0-5 homestand.
Matt Carpenter’s second homer in four games off James Russell had put the Cardinals up in the eighth.
The Cubs scored three runs in the first, and there were later four ties before the Cardinals won.
“We never give up. That’s good,” Soriano said. “I like what I’ve seen so far and sooner or later, we’re going to be better.”
Matt Holliday also homered on a three-hit day, Allen Craig had three hits and two RBIs and Tyler Greene snapped an 0-for-17 skid with three hits, including a double and triple for St. Louis.
Motte (2-1) got the decision for the NL Central leaders, who are just 9-8 at home after prevailing in a game that was tied at 3, 4 and 5.
The four-game losing streak, which began with three defeats against Atlanta, was the franchise’s worst since a seven-game slump June 10-17 last year against three teams.
Bryan LaHair hit his 10th homer, half of them against the Cardinals, and Reed Johnson contributed his second go-ahead pinch hit in three days with an RBI single in the seventh.
LaHair, a rookie, has reached base safely in 32 consecutive games, one shy of the franchise record by a first baseman by Andre Thornton in 1975.
“We came out and swung the bats great in the beginning,” Sveum said. “We kind of tailed off and Reed had another big pinch-hit RBI. It was just a well-played game on both sides. Somebody had to win.”
Holliday singled off Dolis to start the ninth and advanced on David Freese’s one-out groundout. Molina’s grounder to the right side deflected off Barney’s glove and rolled into shallow right field, and Holliday scored without a play.
The Cubs shaded Molina to hit up the middle, and Barney could only get his glove partially of a grounder to the right side. Molina had noticed the alignment.
“I’m just trying to put a ball in play, hopefully find a hole,” Molina said. “I didn’t try to hit the ball that way, but I just wanted to stay back a little bit more. We really needed this win.”
Although Molina has had numerous big hits through the right side during his career, the Cubs’ data called for a shift, and Sveum said he’d do it again.
“It’s unfortunate,” Barney said. “One quarter of a step from maybe saving a run and having another chance.”
The Cubs have lost 10 of 14 in St. Louis dating to June 3, 2011. Dolis is 3 for 6 in save chances.
Paul Maholm didn’t allow more than one run in each of his previous four starts for the Cubs but gave up two in the first.
Kyle Lohse trailed by a run after his first seven pitches produced three hits with an RBI single for Starlin Castro. Soriano and Ian Stewart also drove in a run apiece and the Cubs had 11 swings and no misses while going up 3-0.
NOTES: Matt Garza (2-1, 2.56) pitches for the Cubs on Wednesday at home against the Phillies and Vance Worley (3-2, 3.07). Garza is 1-0 with a 1.66 ERA in three home starts, and has held batters to a .178 average with just six extra-base hits. … Geovany Soto had his third two-hit game of the month Tuesday. He’s 2 for 24 in the other 11 games. … Since 1918, no Cubs lefty has gone five straight starts with at least six innings and one or fewer runs allowed. Maholm is among four Cubs lefties to do it five straight starts, and the first since Ken Holtzman in 1969. … David DeJesus is 11 for 29 (.379) during a seven-game hitting streak, the longest current run on the Cubs.
Published in The Messenger 5.16.12