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Cardinals-Cubs Preview 2009-04-17


Cardinals-Cubs Preview 2009-04-17
Since signing with the Chicago Cubs, Alfonso Soriano has had a tendency of getting off to slow starts. That has not been the case in 2009.

After lifting Chicago to a comeback win with a clutch home run his last time out, Soriano looks to lead the Cubs to their second straight victory when they continue their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

With Chicago (6-4) trailing the Cardinals (8-4) by one run with one out in the eighth inning Friday, Soriano hit a two-run homer, helping rally the Cubs to an 8-7 win. Soriano, who already had struck out three times in the game, played the role of hero with a shot into the left-field bleachers off Chris Perez's low slider.

"It was very low but I like low pitches and I put a good swing on it," said Soriano, who has nine RBIs "Well, not only low. I like everything. High. Inside. Away. Just throw something close to home plate and I'll hit it."

Soriano, who beat Milwaukee last Saturday with a two-run drive in the ninth, already has five homers - including two to leadoff a game. In his first two Aprils with the Cubs, the seven-time All-Star combined to hit .238 (30-for-126) with two homers and six RBIs in 30 games.

Aramis Ramirez had three hits and three RBIs Friday, and is 5-for-7 in his last two games after missing the previous two with a sore back.

Soriano is 13-for-35 (.371) with two homers and seven RBIs, and Ramirez is 7-for-11 (.636) with a homer and three doubles lifetime versus Saturday's scheduled starter Kyle Lohse (2-0, 1.13 ERA), who looks to continue his stellar pitching.

With Chris Carpenter on the disabled list with a strained left ribcage, Lohse is going to need to be a leader in the Cardinals' rotation. So far, he's been up to the task.

In Sunday's 3-0 win over Houston, Lohse threw a career-best three-hitter, retiring 24 in a row after giving up a single on his first pitch. The right-hander struck out four and walked none to open a season with consecutive wins for the first time in his career.

"He was masterful," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Kyle signs a deal, and he wants to show he's going to be the same guy."

Lohse, who is 17-6 with a 3.58 ERA since joining St. Louis as a free agent last year, has been living up to the four-year, $41 million deal he got in September.

Lohse, who has not pitched at Wrigley since 2007 when he was with Philadelphia, went 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season.

Chicago counters with Ryan Dempster (1-0, 4.50), who is set to make his first home start of the season. The two-time All-Star went 14-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 20 starts there last year, and posted a 2.31 ERA in winning both home outings against the Cardinals.

Dempster allowed four runs and four hits with six strikeouts in six innings of an 8-5 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Right fielder Ryan Ludwick led St. Louis' offense Friday with two home runs and four RBIs to continue his hot hitting.

He is 15-for-37 (.405) with five home runs and 13 RBIs in nine games this season, and is batting .417 (30-for-72) with nine home runs during a 20-game hitting streak dating back to last season.

Ludwick went 3-for-8 with a double off Dempster in 2008.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

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