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Wood, Soriano power Cubs past Angels

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Left-hander Travis Wood is channeling Greg Maddux these days while Alfonso Soriano is hitting like a hot-shot rookie.

And the Chicago Cubs seem to be enjoying every bit of this deja vu.

Wood (6-6) matched Maddux's record of 17 quality starts before the All-Star break, working 6 2/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball as the Chicago Cubs cruised to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

The 37-year-old Soriano continued a hot-weather hitting streak, going 2-for-3 with a pair of solo home runs as the Cubs won their fourth straight.

"The Sori show continues," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "(And) Travis pitched great again. You can't pitch better baseball -- besides throwing shutouts."

Soriano is hitting .400 (18-for-45) with eight homers and 17 RBI in his last 11 games and has seen his average climb to .266.

"At 37 years old to do what he's doing again and carrying a ball club at a time when it really needs it offensively is tremendous," Sveum said. "It's like he's a rookie out there."

Darwin Barney's three-run home run with none out in the sixth chased Los Angeles starter Joe Blanton (2-11). Blanton gave up six earned runs, walked three and struck out three. The four home runs he allowed were a season high.

"I really didn't have good stuff tonight," Blanton said. "It was just one of those games. I tried to battle through, but I made too many mistakes over the plate. The three-run (Barney homer) hurts the worst. You can live through solos and battle around everything else. Three-run homers kill you."

Barney's fifth home run drove home Dioner Navarro and Nate Schierholtz. Earlier, Anthony Rizzo, Soriano and Starlin Castro contributed solo homers.

Albert Pujols broke the shutout in the seventh with his 14th home run of the season and the 489th of his career. The two-run shot brought in Mike Trout. Mark Trumbo then walked with two out and reached third on Alberto Callaspo's double to left.

That was it for Wood, who departed to applause. Right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier walked pinch hitter Hank Conger to load the bases but got Brad Hawpe to strike out swinging.

Soriano clubbed his second solo home run of the night off reliever Michael Kohn with one out in the seventh. It was his 15th homer of the season as he hit multiple home runs for the 33rd time in his career.

The Cubs' five home runs were their most at Wrigley Field since Sept. 17, 2006.

Wood, who got his first victory in his last six starts, struck out five and walked just two, became the first Cubs pitcher with 17 quality starts prior to the All-Star break since Maddux in 1988. He had not won since May 30, a run of five starts with three losses and two no-decisions.

Wood gave up a first-inning hit to Pujols and no more until the sixth, when Chris Iannetta singled down the right-field line.

"It's a very strong lineup and they're very solid through and through and for us to go and have the game that we did is pretty outstanding," Wood said. "(But) we're playing great baseball right now -- solid defense, offense -- just plain hitting on all cylinders now."

The Cubs rocked Blanton in the first with back-to-back solo home runs for a 2-0 lead. Rizzo sent a 2-2 pitch to deep right for his 13th home run of the season. Soriano then went the other way on a 1-0 pitch with a shot to left field for his 14th.

It was the fourth time this season the Cubs had consecutive home runs in an inning.

Castro joined the bases-empty homer brigade in the third with a one-out shot for his fifth homer of the season and a 3-0 Chicago lead.

Chicago has homered in each of its last 10 games and 19 of 21 since June 18.

NOTES: The two-game series concludes with Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. (CT) start as Angels LHP C.J. Wilson (8-6) goes against Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-8).

The series marks the Angels' second visit to play the Cubs. They were the last current major-league club to play a night game at Wrigley Field. ... Pujols has 27 home runs in 87 games against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He spent 11 seasons with the Cardinals, with many trips to Chicago. ... RHP Shawn Camp cleared waivers and was given his unconditional release by the Cubs on Tuesday. He had a 7.04 ERA and had allowed seven home runs in 23 innings. He was designated for assignment last week. ... The Cubs have used 41 players -- including 23 pitchers -- so far this season to match a franchise record of players used before the All-Star break. The 23 pitchers used before the break is a team record. The previous mark was 20 matched four times, the last in 2011.
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