Soriano and the Cubs look to close out an already successful home stretch when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the series’ deciding game Sunday afternoon.
Soriano did his best to help Chicago (26-17) hang around in a 7-6 loss to the Pirates on Saturday, going 5-for-5 and hitting two home runs for the second straight game. The defeat dropped the NL Central-leading Cubs to 7-2 on their longest homestand of the season.
Much maligned after a slow start, Soriano has raised his average from .188 to .295 while going 20-for-37 with seven homers and 15 RBIs on the homestand.
“I’m very confident in myself,” said Soriano, who spent two weeks in April on the disabled list with a strained right calf. “I had a bad month in April. I said when I come back, I want to come back strong.”
Soriano, 7-for-9 with four homers and seven RBIs in this series, hopes to help the Cubs bounce back after having their 10-game winning streak over Pittsburgh (21-22) snapped Saturday. It was the Pirates’ first win in eight contests against Chicago this season.
The Cubs turn to Jason Marquis (1-3, 5.26 ERA), who’s looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss. He allowed all four runs in one inning, while giving up nine hits over 5 2-3 innings of Chicago’s 4-3 defeat to San Diego on Tuesday.
“It seems like every mistake I make is getting hit hard,” said Marquis, who’s given up 14 runs and 26 hits over his last 16 innings. “It seems like the mistakes are being magnified more than anything. I really have to bear down.”
The right-hander is 6-5 with a 4.27 ERA in 15 starts versus Pittsburgh. He allowed a run in six innings of a 13-1 victory over the Pirates at Wrigley Field on April 19.
Marquis faces a Pirates club that prior to Saturday’s contest was outscored 36-13 at Wrigley in 2008, but recorded 11 hits and overcame a pair of two-run deficits to win for the ninth time in 12 games.
“We definitely can match up with these guys,” Friday’s losing pitcher Tom Gorzelanny told the Pirates’ official Web site. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Nate McLouth went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning Saturday. McLouth is batting .312 on the season and .371 with two home runs and eight RBIs against Chicago in 2008.
Pittsburgh, 9-14 away from home, improved to 3-2 on a road trip that concludes Sunday. The Pirates, who are trying to win their fourth consecutive series, have not had a winning road trip since going 5-2 at Colorado and Houston from Aug. 20-26.
On Sunday, Phil Dumatrait (1-1, 3.96) makes his fourth start since entering the Pirates’ rotation. He is 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA as a starter, and allowed three runs and four hits in six innings of an 8-4 10-inning win at St. Louis on Tuesday.
The left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five appearances—one start— versus Chicago. He allowed five runs in two innings while starting for Cincinnati at Wrigley Field on Aug. 15.