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No. 1 with a bullet


No. 1 with a bullet
The questions about Alfonso Soriano as a leadoff hitter may never die. All that matters to the Cubs is that he is a hitter.

''He's always dangerous,'' teammate Derrek Lee said. ''He's a power guy. He'll have his strikeouts. But when he makes contact, you see what happens.''

After striking out in his first three at-bats against a debuting rookie for the St. Louis Cardinals, Soriano hit the game-winning two-run homer in the eighth inning Friday at Wrigley Field. One swing produced an 8-7 come-from-behind victory and one more silencer for the doubters.

''Even after he struck out, the thunder is always there,'' said Aaron Miles, who was on base after a pinch-hit walk when Soriano's drive off reliever Chris Perez (0-1) sailed into the center-field seats. ''It was a real good matchup for him, with a guy who throws fastballs and sliders.''

The matchup against rookie P.J. Walters, recalled from Class AAA Memphis to replace injured Chris Carpenter, was no good at all. Soriano struck out three times, including in the second inning with the bases loaded and no outs. That at-bat drew typical cheers and boos from a bipartisan crowd of 40,250. The inning resulted in only one run and seemed to be a turning point when the Cardinals came back in the third to score four runs off starter Carlos Zambrano -- including the first of two homers by Ryan Ludwick.

By the time Soriano batted in the eighth, the give-and-take of the game had the Cardinals ahead 7-6 and the Cubs lamenting a series of lost scoring opportunities.

But, as Soriano said, the game is ''27 outs and nine innings.''

''My first at-bats, I struck out, but I tried to have my rhythm and mechanics [later] and make a good swing,'' he said.

Of the slider he dug low to hit, he said, ''It was a very good pitch. ... It's very important to come back and win the game.''

Soriano has helped the Cubs do that twice early in the season.

''He hit one in Milwaukee in the ninth [April 11] and today in the eighth,'' manager Lou Piniella said. ''I don't think he was picking up the ball well against their young [starter], but he had better swings later [flying out in the sixth]. Five homers in 10 games is pretty good.''

It got Zambrano off the hook after he gave up seven runs while surviving seven innings to help Piniella rest the bullpen. And it gave Carlos Marmol, who was warming up in the eighth when the Cubs trailed, a chance to convert his second save -- not to mention adding to the drama.

After Marmol walked Colby Rasmus and hit Albert Pujols with a pitch, up came Ludwick again. But he struck out, and Marmol got a game-ending double-play ball from pinch-hitter Khalil Greene.

''I didn't feel very comfortable against the first two batters,'' Marmol said. ''That happens in a game. The crowd almost started booing me. It feels good when the fans cheer.''

The feel-good times are there every time Soriano bats, his teammates say, no matter the result.

''He just keeps going and knows it just takes one good swing,'' Lee said. ''He stays with his approach, and when he gets a pitch he likes, he has that thunder. He's already had a few big homers for us this season. He's off to a great start.''

Comment at suntimes.com.

THE RECAP

AT THE PLATE

The game-winning two-run homer by Alfonso Soriano in the eighth capped a seesaw day in which several Cubs had multi-hit games, including Aramis Ramirez (3-for-4), Derrek Lee (2-for-5) and Micah Hoffpauir (2-for-4). The Cubs had 12 hits to overcome a late-inning deficit.

ON THE MOUND

One Carlos was shaky and another electric. Starter Carlos Zambrano weathered seven tough innings, giving up seven runs, but was saved from a loss when the Cubs came back in the eighth. Then Carlos Marmol kept the Cardinals from scoring in the ninth after giving up a leadoff walk and hitting Albert Pujols.

PIVOTAL POINT

Ryan Ludwick, who had homered twice, faced Marmol in the ninth with no outs and two men on. Marmol struck him out swinging, then induced a game-ending double-play ball from Khalil Greene.

BOXSCORE

St. Louis AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Schumaker 2b-lf 4 1 1 0 1 0 .278

Rasmus cf 4 1 1 0 1 1 .242

Pujols 1b 2 1 0 1 1 1 .326

Ludwick rf 5 2 3 4 0 2 .405

Duncan lf 3 0 1 1 0 2 .385

Br.Ryan ss 0 0 0 0 0 0 .267

d-Greene ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .227

Y.Molina c 4 0 1 0 0 1 .316

Thurston 3b-2b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .357

Barden ss-3b 3 2 2 1 1 1 .450

Walters p 2 0 0 0 0 1 .000

T.Miller p 0 0 0 0 0 0 --

a-Freese ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .158

Boggs p 0 0 0 0 0 0 --

b-Ankiel ph 1 0 1 0 0 0 .212

C.Perez p 0 0 0 0 0 0 --

Totals 34 7 10 7 4 9

Cubs AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

A.Soriano lf 5 1 1 2 0 3 .295

Fukudome cf-rf 3 2 1 1 1 2 .371

D.Lee 1b 5 2 2 0 0 1 .225

Hoffpauir rf 4 0 2 1 0 2 .333

Re.Johnson cf 0 0 0 0 0 0 .385

Ar.Ramirez 3b 4 1 3 3 0 1 .364

Soto c 3 0 1 1 1 1 .118

Fontenot 2b 4 1 1 0 0 1 .229

Theriot ss 4 0 1 0 0 0 .371

Zambrano p 2 0 0 0 1 2 .000

Heilman p 0 0 0 0 0 0 --

c-Miles ph 0 1 0 0 1 0 .091

Marmol p 0 0 0 0 0 0 --

Totals 34 8 12 8 4 13

St. Louis 004 011 100--7 10 1

Cubs 210 020 12x--8 12 0

a-popped out for T.Miller in the 6th. b-doubled for Boggs in the 8th. c-walked for Heilman in the 8th. d-grounded into a double play for Br.Ryan in the 9th.

E--Pujols (3). LOB--St. Louis 7, Cubs 7. 2B--Barden (1), Ankiel (2), Fukudome (5), Hoffpauir (2), Ar.Ramirez (2). HR--Ludwick 2 (5), off Zambrano 2; Barden (3), off Zambrano; A.Soriano (5), off C.Perez. RBI--Pujols (14), Ludwick 4 (13), Duncan (11), Barden (4), A.Soriano 2 (9), Fukudome (9), Hoffpauir (3), Ar.Ramirez 3 (9), Soto (1). SF--Pujols, Duncan, Fukudome.

Runners moved up--Walters. GIDP--Greene, Soto. Runners left in scoring position--St. Louis 3 (Rasmus, Schumaker, Greene); Cubs 3 (Soto, D.Lee, Fontenot).

DP--St. Louis 1 (Barden, Schumaker, Pujols); Cubs 1 (Theriot, Fontenot, D.Lee).

St. Louis IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Walters 4 6 3 3 2 7 98 6.75

T.Miller 1 3 2 2 0 2 18 5.40

Boggs H, 1 2 2 1 1 1 3 33 4.50

CPerez L,0-1 BS,1-1 1 1 2 2 1 1 22 6.00

Cubs IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Zambrano 7 9 7 7 3 7 109 5.21

Heilman W, 2-0 1 1 0 0 0 1 19 1.35

Marmol S, 2-2 1 0 0 0 1 1 14 0.00

HBP--by Marmol (Pujols).

Umpires--Home, Sam Holbrook; First, Dan Iassogna; Second, Charlie Reliford; Third, Larry Vanover. T--2:39. A--40,250.

HOW THEY SCORED

Cubs first Soriano struck out. Fukudome walked. Lee infield single, Fukudome to second. Hoffpauir doubled, Fukudome scored, Lee to third. Ramirez singled, Lee scored, Hoffpauir to third. Two runs. Cubs 2, Cardinals 0.

Cubs second Fontenot singled. Theriot singled, Fontenot to second. Zambrano walked, Fontenot to third, Theriot to second. Soriano struck out. Fukudome hit a sac. fly, Fontenot scored. One run. Cubs 3, Cardinals 0.

Cardinals third Barden walked. Walters struck out. Schumaker singled, Barden to second. Rasmus infield single, Barden to third, Schumaker to second. Pujols hit a sac. fly, Barden scored. Ludwick homered, Schumaker scored, Rasmus scored. Four runs. Cardinals 4, Cubs 3.

Cardinals fifth Pujols walked. Ludwick singled, Pujols to third. Duncan hit a sacrifice fly, Pujols scored. One run. Cardinals 5, Cubs 3.

Cubs fifth Miller pitching. Fukudome struck out. Lee singled. Hoffpauir struck out. Ramirez doubled, Lee scored. Soto singled, Ramirez scored. Two runs. Cubs 5, Cardinals 5.

Cardinals sixth Barden homered. One run. Cardinals 6, Cubs 5.

Cardinals seventh Pujols grounded out. Ludwick homered. One run. Cardinals 7, Cubs 5.

Cubs seventh Fukudome doubled. Lee flied out. Hoffpauir struck out. Ramirez singled, Fukudome scored. One run. Cardinals 7, Cubs 6.

Cubs eighth Perez pitching. Theriot grounded out. Miles pinch-hitting for Heilman. Miles walked. Soriano homered, Miles scored. Two runs. Cubs 8, Cardinals 7.

TODAY:

Vs. Cardinals

- 2:40 p.m., Fox-32, 720-AM

Cardinals starter: Kyle Lohse 2-0, 1.13

'08 vs. Cubs : 0-1, 6.38

Career vs. Cubs : 1-2, 5.15

How Cubs have fared: A. Soriano 13-for-35, 2 HR; Ryan Theriot 9-for-17; Aramis Ramirez 7-for-11

Cubs starter: ryan dempster 1-0, 4.50

'08 vs. Cardinals: 2-0, 2.89

Career vs. Cardinals: 6-5, 4.65

How Cards have fared: A. Pujols 8-for-30, 2HR; Skip Schumaker 7-for-18; Ryan Ludwick 5-for-10


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

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