Cubs 10, Braves 1
CHICAGO (AP)—The Chicago Cubs came out swinging—and no, not at each other. Instead, they left Wrigley Field with smiles rather than bruises after a rare win.
Mark DeRosa hit a grand slam, Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee added solo homers, and the Cubs closed out a tumultuous weekend by beating the Atlanta Braves 10-1 on Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak.
The win came after manager Lou Piniella got suspended indefinitely for his dirt-kicking tirade against an umpire Saturday. It also capped a series that began with pitcher Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett fighting in the dugout and clubhouse.
“Obviously, you don’t see a fight everyday in the dugout, so there were questions with the attention that brings,” Lee said. “The ejection? We knew that was coming sooner or later, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. Our main concern was just the way we’ve been playing.”
Even with the win, the Cubs are 23-31—certainly not what they anticipated after hiring Piniella and committing about $300 million toward a roster makeover. But this was better.
Sean Marshall (1-2) allowed one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings in his third start since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa and left to a loud ovation. He walked one batter and struck out eight—tying the career high he set May 23 against San Diego.
“He was cutting (his breaking ball) good, getting it in on us, and we just weren’t able to make the adjustment to put pressure on him,” Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur said.
DeRosa gave Chicago a 4-0 lead in the first with the second grand slam of his career.
“It was a big moment for me here,” he said.
Soriano homered in the second inning and Lee hit one in the third, and the Cubs could finally exhale after a week in which tensions boiled over.
Zambrano and Barrett went at it in the fifth inning of Friday’s 8-5 loss. There was yelling, shoving and slapping in the dugout, and Zambrano had his fist cocked as the two were separated. The pitcher was escorted to the clubhouse and told to go home by Piniella. Barrett went back to talk to Zambrano, and the catcher wound up needing six stitches on his lower lip at a hospital after they got into it again. Barrett showed up at the ballpark the next day with a bruise below his left eye.
The team fined the players Saturday, but there was trouble later in the day for Piniella. He threw his cap, kicked dirt on third-base umpire Mark Wegner and earned his first ejection this season after Angel Pagan got thrown out trying to steal third in the eighth inning of a 5-3 loss. Major League Baseball suspended Piniella indefinitely Sunday and fined him an undisclosed amount.
The league also said Piniella made contact with Wegner during the outburst— which he denied. Piniella, who began serving the suspension Sunday, will find out the length of the punishment Monday.
“That’s the frustration that I guess we took out in today’s game,” Marshall said. “There was just a little extra spark, I guess to get us going. It was fun to watch, too.”
DeRosa stepped to the plate with two outs in the first and drove a 3-2 fastball out to center to make it 4-0.
“Any normal day, I would have thrown a cutter,” Cormier said. “But I just didn’t feel good about it, so I challenged him with a fastball and it just ran right back over the middle.”
Soriano made it 5-0 with his second homer in as many days, and sixth of the season, when he drove one to the screen just above the left-field wall with two outs in the second. Lee led off the third with his sixth. Both Soriano and Lee had three hits.
Cormier, who strained his right triceps in late March, was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game and allowed eight runs and nine hits in four-plus innings. He left with no outs in the fifth, after Soriano tripled to the warning track in center and scored on Felix Pie’s broken-bat double that made it 7-0.
Pie, recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier in the day, started in center and had two hits.
Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell will act as manager while Piniella serves his suspension. … Barrett sat out his second straight game. … The Cubs placed infielder Daryle Ward on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip strain. … Smoltz threw on the side Sunday, and manager Bobby Cox said he looked “really good.” … The Braves optioned infielder Martin Prado to Triple-A Richmond.