LIVE: Byrd puts Cubs back on top 6-4

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LIVE: Byrd puts Cubs back on top 6-4

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 9:46 a.m.

(AP) -- The Chicago Cubs may be in line for consecutive wins for the first time in 2011. Alfonso Soriano could play a major role in that, too.

Soriano and the Cubs will try to make things a bit easier on themselves as they attempt to continue their success against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle game of this series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

Chicago (2-2) has alternated wins and losses through its first four games, with each of them decided by three or fewer runs.

That trend continued Monday, when the Cubs opened this three-game set with a 4-1 win over Arizona (1-2) to extend their winning streak in the series to seven - four at home.

READ: Carlos Pena sidelined with thumb injury

"It'd be OK if we came out and took a 10-0 lead (Tuesday)," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "We've got to get better and we still have plenty of work to do, but at least the approach and attitude out of the chute has been good."

Soriano could make a difference for Chicago after going 4 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs over the last three games after going 0 for 4 in a season-opening 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday.

The left fielder connected for his second home run in as many games Monday and finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs. He's hitting .413 with eight homers and 22 RBIs over his last 14 meetings versus the Diamondbacks, leading the Cubs to wins in 11 of them.

Soriano has been even better in seven games at Wrigley in that span, going 13 for 23 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.

READ: Trammell has no regrets about time with Cubs

"He's very formidable," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the team's official website. "He's a good player, he's been playing the game for a long time and he's done very well against us. We'll try to do things differently to get him out."

Barry Enright will take on that responsibility as he makes his pitching debut this season. The right-hander went 6-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts as a rookie in 2010 after being a midseason call-up.

He was charged with a 6-4 home defeat July 6, yielding three runs and seven hits - two homers - with five strikeouts over 5 2-3 innings.

"Obviously, you want to say you're going to take it like any other start, but there will probably be some extra adrenaline, sure," Enright said of starting at Wrigley.

Enright struck out as a pinch-hitter in a 7-6, 11-inning season-opening win at Colorado on Friday.

Andrew Cashner is also entering his first full season in the majors, and will get the nod opposite Enright. The 24-year-old right-hander won a spot in the Chicago rotation during spring training.

"It's my first start in the big leagues - why wouldn't you be excited?" said Cashner, who went 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 53 relief appearances last season.

Carlos Pena's status is unclear after leaving Monday's win after spraining his thumb on his glove hand apparently while trying to field an off-target throw to first in the top of the eighth.

The Diamondbacks stranded 11 runners Monday and are 4 for 34 with runners in scoring position this season.

"We'll start to get the timely hits as we get going, so the main thing is we're putting good at-bats on guys," shortstop Willie Bloomquist said. "It's just a matter of putting good at-bats in the right situations."
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

Plenty of Cubs fans surely were star-struck to meet Addison Russell at Cubs Convention last weekend. But the 22-year-old All-Star shortstop has a shortlist of people he would be amazed to meet, too. 

Russell reveres President Barack Obama, on Friday the outgoing Commander-in-Chief's work in the community when talking about getting to visit the White House. So on Monday, Russell got to check off meeting one of the people on his list. "There's probably about three people that I would be star-struck by, and (Obama's) one of them," Russell said. 

One of those three spots is "open," Russell said. The other member of that list is former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. 

Russell wears his No. 27 because of George, who wore that number during his career in which he made four Pro Bowls and rushed for over 10,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. Prior to the 2016 season, George sent Russell and autographed Titans helmet inscribed with good luck message.

After the season, Russell said George texted him seeing if the newly-crowned champion had time to chill. Few things rattled Russell last year — he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series when he blasted one in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians last November — but getting a text from George did. "I couldn't text back," Russell said. "It was nuts. I waited four days because I was thinking of what back to say."

Even the most famous athletes still get star-struck. Russell's been lucky enough in the last few months to meet and hear from two of the people who bring out that sense of awe in him. "Just to come in contact with people like that, it just makes me smile," Russell said. "It definitely gets me in the mood of getting better, and that's the goal this year, is getting better."