The Chicago Cubs haven’t had much luck stringing together wins in 2007, but they’re hoping they’ve finally managed to gain some momentum.
The Cubs look to win three in a row for the first time this season when they continue their three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium.
Chicago (9-13) beat St. Louis 5-3 in Friday’s series opener, getting back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. The Cubs, who beat Milwaukee 9-3 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep, had not won consecutive contests since April 6-7.
Felix Pie and Aramis Ramirez each hit two-run homers in the fourth inning for the Cubs, who had dropped three straight games before Wednesday. Chicago, which is opening a six-game road trip after a 2-4 homestand, has played much better away from Wrigley Field this season, going 5-4.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who started the season in center but was moved to left after missing time with an injured hamstring, went 1-for-5 and threw out two runners, one at the plate. Soriano had an NL-leading 22 assists with the Nationals last season, his first in the outfield after moving from second base.
“He looks so much more in place in left field,” manager Lou Piniella said of Soriano, who is batting .262 but has yet to homer after hitting a career-high 46 last season. “Now what we need to do is get him hitting the ball.”
Pie, whose homer was the first of his career, has taken over in center since being called up from the minors on April 17.
The Cardinals (10-12) are also off to a slow start, but had won four of six heading into this series. Catcher Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer Friday, his first since his go-ahead, two-run shot in Game 7 of last year’s NL championship series against the Mets.
St. Louis scored fewer than four runs for the 15th time this season. On Saturday, they will try to figure out Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 6.91 ERA), who allowed two runs in 5 1-3 innings in the Cubs’ 12-inning, 5-4 loss to Milwaukee on Monday.
Zambrano, who has never pitched in St. Louis’ new Busch Stadium, is 5-4 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 career appearances, including 15 starts, against the Cardinals. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in his last seven starts against them.
St. Louis gives the ball to Adam Wainwright (1-1, 5.04), who was pounded for seven runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings of the Cardinals’ 10-inning, 12-9 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday, not recording a decision. The converted reliever has allowed 12 runs in 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts after giving up just three runs over 13 2-3 innings in his first two.
“The main thing for me is not giving up seven runs, it’s that I had a three-run lead,” he told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “I feel like I just blew a save, basically. A three-run lead in the sixth inning o I’ve got to make them hit the ball on the ground there, and I didn’t do it.”