Soriano broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Atlanta’s Jeff Bennett on Wednesday and is expected to miss at least six weeks. That was supposed to leave the Cubs with a gaping hole in their lineup, but so far that hasn’t happened.
Chicago has won three of four since Soriano’s departure and averaged five runs per contest against a Toronto team whose starting staff entered Sunday’s game ranked third in the major leagues with a 3.61 ERA.
“We’ve got a good enough team to get by,” third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. “We’re playing great. I thought we should have won all three games here but we left a lot of guys on base during the first game. We can get by without Soriano.”
Ramirez added his 10th homer of the season for the Cubs, who haven’t lost a series since May 25 at Pittsburgh. Much of that success has to do with Lilly, who won for the sixth time in seven decisions dating to May 3 and has a 3.81 ERA over that span.
“I think he has been improving as the season goes on,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “I think the pop on his fastball is better. He has got a little more sharpness on his curveball and it makes his changeup a whole lot better.”
Lilly (7-5) struggled with his control but allowed just one hit. He walked the bases loaded in the third before getting Vernon Wells to pop out to second base and end the inning.
The Cubs led 3-0 in the sixth when Lilly again found himself in trouble. After Wells reached base on an error to shortstop Ryan Theriot, Lilly walked Scott Rolen to bring the tying run to the plate. Rod Barajas hit a deep fly that Reed Johnson caught at the warning track, and Brad Wilkerson grounded out to second base to end the threat.
“I feel like against a club like this I got away with a few pitches,” said Lilly, who played for the Jays from 2004-06. “I know I only gave up a hit but there were some hard-hit balls hit right at guys, and especially with the walks being able to come out of that without the damage they could have done I’m pretty fortunate.”
Lilly struck out six and walked five, departing after six innings having thrown 110 pitches. The only hit he surrendered was to Wilkerson with two out in the fourth.
“Whether he has his best stuff or not, he’s going to have the same attitude of trying to beat you every day,” Johnson said. “He’s a competitor and you can see how bad he wants it, and I think that also can become contagious and run throughout the team.”
The Cubs’ offense clicked in the third off starter Jesse Litsch. With runners on the corners and two out, Kosuke Fukudome singled past a diving Wilkerson at first base to score the game’s first run. Lee and Jim Edmonds added RBI singles to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
Chicago added four more in the seventh on a two-run single by Lee and Ramirez’s two-run homer. Litsch (7-3) was charged with five runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings.
Rolen was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning after he fouled a pitch off his left foot during his previous at-bat. He went for X-rays, which came back negative.
Cubs reliever Scott Eyre had his scoreless streak snapped at a franchise-record 33 games when he allowed a sacrifice fly to Alex Rios in the seventh. It was Eyre’s first earned run since last Aug. 16.
Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected during the bottom of the eighth inning after arguing a call with first base umpire Adrian Johnson. … There was a 3-minute delay during the top of the third as the Rogers Centre roof was closed due to incoming weather. … Wells was back in the Blue Jays lineup after experiencing discomfort in his left wrist during his last at-bat on Saturday. … Gregg Zaun made his return from the 15-day DL and was inserted into the lineup as designated hitter. Zaun had been out since May 28 with a right elbow injury.