And a comfortable Soriano is a dangerous Soriano.
“That’s more important for me right now,” he said of feeling good. “I’m very selective at home plate. When I swing at strikes, I hit the ball hard.”
His shot was one of four by Chicago on a warm afternoon with the wind blowing out. Kosuke Fukudome(notes), Geovany Soto(notes) and Marlon Byrd(notes) add solo drives to help the Cubs shake off a 13-5 beating by the Diamondbacks on Thursday and stop a three-game skid.
The big blow came from Soriano, who’s 18 for 51 over his last 16 games after collecting two hits. His three-run drive off Rodrigo Lopez(notes) (1-1) capped a four-run sixth that put Chicago ahead 6-4 and made a winner of Randy Wells(notes) (3-0). The Cubs broke it open with three in the seventh, getting two bases-loaded walks, after Chris Snyder(notes) led off the top half with a homer.
Ryan Theriot(notes) and Fukudome started the sixth with singles, and with one out, Lopez and first baseman Adam LaRoche(notes) collided as Aramis Ramirez’s(notes) pop fly dropped. Lopez was credited with the error, although the ball might have ticked LaRoche’s glove.
That loaded the bases for Tyler Colvin(notes), who drove in Theriot with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a one-run game. Soriano, who had doubled in his previous at-bat, drove the next pitch out to left-center for his third homer to make it 6-4, clapping his hands and pumping his fists as he rounded first.
He’s starting to hit more like the old Soriano than an old Soriano, with a .292 average after batting .241 a year ago.
“He’s going to hit,” said Byrd, who’s eighth-inning homer cleared the left-field bleachers. “He’s healthy this year. He has the confidence. He has the swagger.”
As for that dropped pop that set up the rally?
Lopez blamed himself for getting in the way, saying he “got a little anxious to catch it” because Snyder—the catcher—didn’t see it.
LaRoche, however, had it in sight and thought the ball might have hit his glove.
“He’s probably waiting for someone to call it,” LaRoche said. “We all just kind of had our ears open and didn’t say a whole lot.”
Snyder chased Wells with his homer in the seventh—his fourth overall and second in two games—but the Cubs put this one away in the bottom half.
Derrek Lee’s(notes) bases-loaded single to a diving shortstop Stephen Drew(notes) against Blaine Boyer(notes) drove in Soto, who led off with a walk, to make it 7-5. Boyer then walked Ramirez to force in another run and former Cub Aaron Heilman(notes) walked Soriano with two outs, making it 9-5.
Wells allowed eight hits and five runs while striking out a season-high eight in his second straight start without a walk.
Lopez gave up six runs in six innings and faced the minimum 10 batters before Fukudome drove his fifth homer—and second in two days—about 10 rows into the right-field bleachers.
“We need to build on it and we need to be consistent,” Lee said.
NOTES: LaRoche made a diving backhanded stop to rob Mike Fontenot(notes) leading off the third. … Cubs manager Lou Piniella wasn’t too concerned about Ted Lilly(notes) after he allowed six runs in five innings and was throwing in the mid-80s on Thursday. That came after he threw six shutout innings in his first start after offseason shoulder surgery. “He’s going to add three or four miles an hour to his fastball,” Piniella said. “Yesterday, the problem with Lilly was he got the ball up and the wind was blowing out.” … Theriot has a 10-game hitting streak.