Soriano belts two homers as Cubs down Pirates

Soriano belts two homers as Cubs down Pirates

July 6, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Cubs manager Dale Sveum called it “The Sori Show.”

While Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano might not have a future in late-night television, he certainly put on an impressive offensive display Saturday, when a pair of two-run homers off his bat accounted for the Cubs’ entire offensive production in a 4-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It was the ‘Sori Show’ today, but it has been kind of the last 10 or so days,” Sveum said. “It’s kind of about the time he really took off last year, as well.”

It was the latest piece of evidence to prove that Soriano is heating up with the weather this summer. Since June 21, Soriano is batting .314 with five homers, five doubles, 10 runs scored and 13 RBI.

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“Finally,” Soriano said. “Like I said, I just had to keep at it for the rest of the season. I’ve been working from Day 1, Opening Day, finding my rhythm. And finally, it’s never too late. Now I just keep going and help the team to play better and win some more games.”

The Cubs trailed early Saturday, and they were down, 1-0, entering the bottom of the fourth. But Anthony Rizzo led off the inning against Pittsburgh starting pitcher Charlie Morton, and Soriano followed with a blast to center field that put the Cubs in front.

The very next inning, there was a man on and two out for Soriano, who crushed an offering from Morton into the back of the left-field bleachers, making it a 4-1 game.

Soriano’s homers were more than just important in this game. His first roundtripper moved him ahead of Andre Dawson and into sole possession of 12th place on the franchise’s all-time home run leader board. The second made him just the 60th player in major league history to reach 384 career long balls. He’s now tied with Harold Baines at No. 59 on the all-time list.

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“I’m very proud of myself because I never thought I would hit so many homers -- because the size of my body,” Soriano said. “But I’ve been blessed, so I’m happy, healthy. I just keep going, and I’m just having fun.”

Both Sveum and Soriano credited some rest for the slugger’s recent hot streak. Soriano had some games off on the last road trip -- either completely or while serving as a designated hitter when the Cubs visited a pair of American League ballparks.

“It always seems to work pretty good for him for some reason,” Sveum said. “I think if you look at the track record, the next day after days off he’s had some pretty good games.”

“I think those two days that I took off in Milwaukee and the couple days that I took and DH’d in Seattle and Oakland helped my legs refresh,” Soriano said. “I think I feel more strong at home plate because I had like a week playing DH. It helped me a lot because I have more power in my legs to get comfortable at home plate.”

Soriano’s offensive heroics proved to be plenty of support for Edwin Jackson, the Cubs starter who struggled to start the season. Saturday, he turned in one of his better outings of the year, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings of work.

Jackson has now won four of his last six starts, and Saturday marked the third time in that stretch he allowed one run. After the game, the pitcher was sure to point out that a slow start does not always equal a bad finish.

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“I think we’ve been stressing that all year. It’s a lot of baseball left to play still,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, people get off to slow starts. Sometimes, people get off to fast starts. Sometimes the ones who get off to the fast start wither away, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the ones that get off to the slow start, they pick it up ... It’s just a game that you have to continue to grind. You just have to continue to have confidence in yourself and believe that you can do it. You just go out and have fun.”

As Jackson mentioned, when guys like Soriano heat up and swing the bats, that makes it a lot easier to have fun.

“It’s fun when we have our team swinging the bat real well. It’s a lot of fun in the dugout,” Jackson said. “There’s positive energy, and that’s what this team needs. We need to stay as positive as possible. It’s been a crazy year, to say the least, but as long as we stay positive in our clubhouse and we believe that we can go out and win ballgames, we’ll find a way to do it.”