LIVE: Cubs clawing back, trail Arizona 4-3

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LIVE: Cubs clawing back, trail Arizona 4-3

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 11:16 a.m.

Associated Press

Alfonso Soriano's hot streak has helped the Chicago Cubs put together back-to-back road wins for the first time this season.

Looking to continue their impressive play at Chase Field, Soriano and the Cubs close out a four-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

After a poor pitching performance led to an 11-2 loss in Thursday's series opener, the Cubs (12-14) have rebounded with two straight wins thanks in part to Soriano's surging bat.

The 13-year veteran, whose production has been known to come in spurts, homered twice in Friday's 4-2 win and took a share of the major league lead with his 10th home run to help Chicago to a 5-3 victory Saturday.

The Cubs have taken 10 of 12 against the Diamondbacks (11-15) overall and five of six on the road.

Soriano, who has four homers and five RBIs in his last three games, is batting .346 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in his last eight in Phoenix.

While Soriano has produced an offensive spark, manager Mike Quade provided some inspiration after he was ejected for arguing a call in the ninth inning Saturday.

"He knows what he's doing. He can get us riled up any time he wants. It was a good time for it," said second baseman Darwin Barney, who went 2 for 5 and drove in one of Chicago's two runs in the ninth. "Everyone's battling. This team doesn't give up. We're just trying to enjoy it, thrive on it and keep winning."

Matt Garza gave up three runs in eight innings as the Cubs improved to 9-2 when their starter allows four runs of fewer.

"Whoever coined the phrase 'pitching is 90 percent of the game' either was really smart or was stating the obvious," Quade said. "It's about setting the tone and keeping your club in the game."

Chicago will look for Casey Coleman (1-1, 7.43 ERA) to do just that Sunday. Coleman, though, hasn't pitched since allowing a season-worst six runs and six hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 12-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 22.

"I don't think I've seen Casey like that since he got here last year," Quade told the Cubs' official website. "He looked completely out of sync from the get go. I really haven't a clue why. He was missing down, and you watch him and that's kind of what we want, but not that often."

The right-hander, who has never faced Arizona, is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA over his last four road starts dating to last season.

The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have lost seven of 10 and will turn to Daniel Hudson to get them back on track.

After losing his first four starts, Hudson (1-4, 5.64) finally showed signs of coming around in his most recent outing, surrendering three runs and 10 hits in six innings en route to earning his first victory of the season in Tuesday's 7-5 win over Philadelphia.

"I thought I threw a lot of good pitches, especially in the first inning," Hudson told the Diamondbacks' official website. "They found a couple of holes. It's probably the best stuff I have had all year."

Hudson has compiled a 2.60 ERA in nine starts at Chase Field since he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 30.

Shortstop Stephen Drew went 2 for 4 with two RBIs Saturday, giving him 11 in his last seven home games.
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Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

MESA, Ariz. – Over red wine, Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon ended their cold war on Monday night, dining at Andreoli Italian Grocer and vowing to work together as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title.  
 
The Montero-Maddon dynamic had been one of the awkward, lingering storylines in a feel-good camp after the veteran catcher questioned the star manager's communication skills and in-game decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview – on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.

"I got a lot off my chest," Montero said Tuesday. "I care so much for the game. I care so much for the team. I'm here to win. And it's hard when you have that (weight) on your shoulders.
 
"I've never been a cancer (anywhere) that I played for all these years. And I'm not planning to be one of those guys."
 
Maddon requested the dinner meeting – quality assurance coach/ex-player Henry Blanco joined the peace summit as a neutral third party – while Montero picked the Scottsdale restaurant and suggested posting a photo of them toasting drinks on his Twitter account.  
 
"I want to let the people know that it's going to be a great year," Montero said.  

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Montero said he slept so much better that night and showed up for work at the Sloan Park complex the next morning with a new energy level. Montero, a two-time All-Star, stressed that he understands his role as a $14 million backup and a mentor to young catcher Willson Contreras. Montero offered to continue helping police the clubhouse – in exchange for Maddon keeping him more in the loop.   
 
"Whatever it takes me to help him," Montero said. "I was true with him when I said: ‘If you feel Willson needs a break and it's (Clayton) Kershaw pitching for the other team, put me in, I'm fine.'
 
"That's my job and I accept it. Just count on me for whatever. If we need to send a message out there to the players, I'm here for you, too. I can help you on that.
 
"If I do something that you don't like, just let me know. Just chew me out, whatever, I don't care. I'll take it like a man. It was a great time."
 
Montero had already told reporters that his comments on the radio weren't simply complaining about his own individual situation. Montero also spoke up for teammates frustrated by a perceived lack of communication and uncertainty over roles, though those behind-the-scenes issues appear to be cooling for now.
 
"We have a special team," Montero said. "We have a legitimate chance to win another championship. So in order to do that, we need to be together here. And I think we are now – and we're going to stay that way."

Catch a glimpse inside 'The Cousin Eddie,' Joe Maddon's tricked-out RV

Catch a glimpse inside 'The Cousin Eddie,' Joe Maddon's tricked-out RV

We finally have a full glimpse inside the "Cousin Eddie."

Joe Maddon's luxury RV has been name-dropped ever since before the celebrity manager became embedded forever in Cubs lore.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer tell the story about sitting with Maddon down in Pensacola, Fla., outside the "Cousin Eddie" as the trio discussed Maddon coming to manage the Cubs.

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Maddon has since mentioned the RV several times as his offseason oasis.

Nearly two-and-a-half years later, we can now catch a glimpse inside the "Cousin Eddie" as Maddon was recently profiled on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel:"

The pimped-out RV has four TVs, a fireplace, heated floors, a sweet kitchen with a regular-sized fridge and on and on.

His RV is better than most apartments in Chicago.

Essentially, it's good to be Joe Maddon.

The Maddon profile airs Tuesday night on HBO at 9 p.m. CT.

Check out a full trailer: