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Cubs top Rangers in interleague matinee

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- It was arguably one of the Chicago Cubs most complete efforts -- and easily the quickest -- as they salvaged the finale of an interleague series with a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon.

Carlos Villanueva earned his first win as a Cub, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano clubbed home runs and Welington Castillo had a career-first four-hit day.

"It was a crappy day, we could have easily cashed in it with the weather," said Rizzo. "Everyone stayed focused and it was a good win with pitching, defense, offense. It all came together."

Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak while Texas wrapped up a 3-3 road trip.

Both teams dodged raindrops after a stormy morning to complete the game in 2 hours, 37 minutes.

Texas won the series opener Tuesday while Wednesday's game was rained out.

For Villanueva, the key was staying focused and then effectively mixing up pitches and speeds.

"We heard yesterday that we weren't going to get the game in and it was going to be tough," he said. "I tried to stay with my guard up just in case. You never want to drop your guard ... and not think about the game. It was nice, it was clean and now we go to Milwaukee with a W."

Castillo went 4-for-4 with a run scored and helped make a winner of Villanueva, who worked seven innings for his first win of the season. He gave up four hits, struck out six and walked one.

"If (Castillo) can swing the bat like this all year long, we'll have something special because of the defense he has behind the plate is one of the best in baseball," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said. "The way he swings the bat, the way he's hitting right-handers is just a huge plus for us right now."

The Cubs opened scoring in the second when Nate Schierholtz doubled off starter Alexi Ogando and scored on Luis Valbuena's one-out single.

David DeJesus led off the third with a triple to right and made it 2-0 when he came home on Ogando's wild pitch. Chicago then played long ball with back-to-back homers for the first time this season.

Starlin Castro reached on a walk and Rizzo sent a 2-1 pitch to right and nearly out of the park for his fourth homer of the season. Soriano followed with his first shot of the season and the Cubs led 5-0.

Ogando got the inning's first out when Schierholtz grounded to second, but couldn't survive the inning. He departed in favor of right-hander Derek Lowe, having allowed five earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out a pair.

"(Ogando) didn't have it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They didn't miss it. Whenever he made a mistake today with a breaking ball they hit it and whenever he made a mistake with the fast ball it left the ballpark."

Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski, making his first visit to Chicago since leaving the White Sox, agreed.

"He just wasn't very sharp," Pierzynski said. "I don't think that there's any other way to spin it. Any other game when he's gotten behind he's been able to make good pitches to get out of it. Today, he made some decent pitches and they hit it."

The Rangers got a run back in the fourth on Ian Kinsler's leadoff homer to left, his fifth of the year.

Castillo made it 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth. He reached on an infield single and scored on Valbuena's double to right.

In the seventh, Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz homered to center with two out to trim Chicago's lead to 6-2.

The Rangers return home Friday to open a three-game series with Seattle. The Cubs travel north to Milwaukee for three games, also beginning Friday.

"We split the road trip which isn't bad," Kinsler said. "It's not what we want to do, it's not where our minds are at. But if we can (play better) at home, play .500 ball on the road, we feel pretty good about it."

NOTES: Cubs' right-hander Matt Garza was originally scheduled for a Friday rehab start at the Cubs' Single-A Kane County affiliate, but poor conditions changed those plans. Garza instead will pitch a short simulated game in Milwaukee followed by a Double-A start. He remains on the disabled list retroactive to March 22 with a left lat strain. ... The Cubs announced reliever Hisanori Takahashi cleared waivers and would be assigned outright to the team's Triple-A Iowa affiliate. Takahashi, 38, made three appearances with a 6.00 ERA. ... Wednesday's postponement was the Rangers' first since Sept. 29, 2012, vs. the Angels in Arlington and first on the road since May 9, 2012, in Baltimore. ... Adrian Beltre's Tuesday home run was his second of the season and 348th of his career, tying George Foster for 87th on the all-time list. He is now just two behind Chili Davis.
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