Ramirez, Soto power Cubs to 7-3 win over Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Tom Gorzelanny(notes) got a chance to return to the Chicago Cubs’ rotation because of teammate Carlos Zambrano’s(notes) well-publicized blowup in the dugout. He has made the most of his second opportunity.

Gorzelanny won for the second time in three starts after spending almost all of last month pitching out of the bullpen, and the Cubs got home runs from Aramis Ramirez(notes) and Geovany Soto(notes) in a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

“It was a long month,” said Gorzelanny, whose first stint in the rotation was a result of Zambrano’s demotion to a relief role. “I didn’t get to pitch a whole lot last month, but I did my job in the ‘pen and just waited until my next opportunity to get back in the rotation. And that’s what happened.”

Gorzelanny (4-5) allowed two runs—one earned—and six hits over six innings after being staked to an early 6-0 lead. The left-hander, who lost to the Dodgers on May 26 at Wrigley Field, walked only one after issuing six walks over five innings last Monday at Arizona in a 9-4 victory.

“He’s been doing a great job all year,” teammate Marlon Byrd(notes) said. “He took his move to the ‘pen like a champ, and now he’s come back and shown why he wants to be in the rotation.”

John Ely(notes) (4-7) threw 47 pitches over 2 1-3 innings in the shortest of his 14 big league starts, after lasting only 2 2-3 innings last Monday in a 6-5 loss to Florida at Dodger Stadium. The 24-year-old right-hander was charged with six runs, five hits and three walks—one of them with the bases loaded.

“It was a struggle out there today,” said batterymate A.J. Ellis(notes), making his 13th start behind the plate. “He just couldn’t get anything going and he had a hard time repeating pitches. That makes it tough when you’re facing a major league lineup. Soto’s home run took a lot of wind out of his sails and he had a hard time rebounding from that.”

Ely has averaged 3.67 walks per nine innings over his last 10 starts, following a string of 89 consecutive batters in which he did not allow a base on balls.

“From what I saw today and in his last start, it’s the inability to get the off-speed stuff over for strikes,” Ellis said. “He’ll be the first to let you know that he doesn’t have velocity to rely on a fastball in the zone. He needs his off-speed stuff, and the last couple of times it just hasn’t been there for him.”

Ely is 1-6 with a 5.44 ERA in his past nine starts after recording his first three big league victories in consecutive outings.

“My confidence is never going to be hurt. I know what I’ve done in the past, I know what I can do,” Ely said. “I’m going to focus on that. I’ll have a couple off days here just to get my mind off of everything that’s been happening, and I’m going to be ready next start. I’ll come out of this. I guarantee it.”

Ely’s father, Jack, is such a devout Chicago White Sox fan that he has steadfastly refused to attend any games at Wrigley Field. So he wasn’t on hand for his son’s first game in Chicago as a big leaguer on May 27, when he limited the Cubs to a run and four hits over 7 1-3 innings and lost 1-0.

“The first time through the league, it’s tough to figure out what a guy has, what kind of break his ball has, how he locates and what his out pitch is. Today we just tried to wait him out and get a good pitch up,” Byrd said. “We learned a lot from his game in Chicago. He mixes his pitches very well, so guys tried to hit his fastball early in the count or wait for his changeup late in the count.”

Byrd, who was 7 for 9 with three RBIs during the first two games of the series, drew a leadoff walk in the second and scored on Starlin Castro’s(notes) single. Soto drove the next pitch into the left-field bullpen for his ninth homer.

“I always go up there looking fastball,” Soto said. “He’s got really good off-speed pitches and he knows how to use them. I had the pitcher hitting behind me, so I just wanted to get a good pitch to drive and help the club. We managed to get him early this time.”

Six consecutive Cubs reached base during a three-run third after Ely got the first out. He hit Byrd on the left arm with a pitch before walking Alfonso Soriano(notes) with the bases loaded, then gave up RBI singles by Castro and Soto that extended Chicago’s lead to 6-0. It could have been worse, but left fielder Xavier Paul(notes) threw out Byrd trying to score behind Ramirez on Castro’s hit.

The Dodgers got on the board in the second. First-time All-Star Andre Ethier(notes) dumped a bloop single to left in front of a diving Soriano to score Paul, and Rafael Furcal(notes) followed him home on a throwing error to third by Byrd as he backed up Soriano on the play.

The rally began when Paul hit a grounder to first baseman Derrek Lee(notes) and umpire Jerry Layne ruled that Paul had beaten Gorzelanny in a foot race to the bag on a bang-bang play. Cubs manager Lou Piniella came out to argue. When the inning was over, Piniella came back on the field to pick up the argument and was ejected for the first time since Aug. 9, 2009.

“I got a pretty good view of the play from the dugout, and I thought the baserunner was out,” Piniella said. “Jerry convinced me he wasn’t, until one of my coaches saw the replay. I told him, `You missed the call,’ and he said, `I can’t hear you.’ So he sort of baited me out there, but it’s all right.”

Ramirez got one of the runs back in the seventh with a first-pitch homer off Carlos Monasterios(notes), who was making his first appearance since his start against Boston on June 18. He missed 14 games while on the disabled list because of a blister on his index finger.

Ethier capped the scoring in the ninth with another RBI single, this one off Carlos Marmol(notes).

NOTES: Manny Ramirez(notes), on a rehab assignment with Class-A Inland Empire, is expected to be activated next Thursday at St. Louis after his second stint on the disabled list this season. … Furcal was selected to replace injured Mets SS Jose Reyes(notes) on the NL All-Star roster.

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