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Chi. Cubs (40-40) «2122000007112
Washington (32-49)000010001251

Soriano powers offense as Cubs pull above .500

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- While it's easy to understand why the Washington Nationals let Alfonso Soriano go, there are times when the sight of him in a Chicago Cubs uniform aches a little more than usual for fans in the nation's capital.

Monday night was one of times. Soriano returned to the stadium that helped earn him a nine-digit contract and looked right at home again, getting two hits, a run, an RBI and a stolen base in the Cubs' 7-2 victory over the Nationals.

"It's a little weird," said Soriano, who had 46 home runs and stole 41 bases for Washington last year. "But I try to do my job and do the best I can for my team. I feel very good, so that's what matters."

Soriano is headed for the All-Star Game and was selected as the National League's player of the month for June, having led the majors with 11 home runs and the NL with 41 hits. He is batting .329 in his last 17 games.

The Nationals sure could use some of those hits and homers. They've scored three or fewer runs in nine straight games, going 2-7 during that stretch.

"Those guys are pressing a little bit instead of letting the game come to them," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "It's human nature."

Chicago manager Lou Piniella was concerned that this would be a trap series for the Cubs, who were leaving an 8-1 homestand before energized crowds at Wrigley Field to play a last-place team in a half-empty RFK Stadium. He needn't have worried: Soriano and three other players had at least two hits, and Ted Lilly (7-4) allowed only three hits over seven innings to put Chicago (41-40) above .500 for the first time since the team was 16-15 on May 9.

"We've improved. This road trip is an important one," Piniella said. "We had a real nice homestand. We're trying to build on that and we started the right way."

Before the game, Soriano visited Washington's clubhouse and spoke of his fond memories of his eventful but productive year in the nation's capital. He reluctantly converted from second base to left field, then had a blockbuster season that earned him a $136 million, eight-year contract as a free agent from the Cubs in November. The Nationals didn't try to keep him because they were slashing payroll to begin a slow, long-term rebuilding program.

"I had a great time here," he said, "so it's very exciting for me to come back."

Soriano flied to the warning track in center to open the game, but the next three batters reached base, and the Cubs went on to score in each of the first four innings. Aramis Ramirez had a two-run double in the first, Soriano drove in a run with a single in the second, and four straight singles followed by a sacrifice fly accounted for two more runs in the third.

That was the end of the night for Washington starter Jason Simontacchi (5-6), who lasted only three innings for the second time in three starts. He allowed five runs and seven hits.

"I just didn't get the ball down," Simontacchi said. "I need to execute my pitches a lot better."

Soriano opened the fourth inning with a single and took second with his 11th stolen base. He scored on Mark DeRosa's two-run single.

Lilly won his third consecutive decision. He walked the first two batters he faced but had a no-hitter through 4 1/3 innings. Brian Schneider broke it up with a double off the right field wall in the fifth, and Nook Logan brought Schneider home with a double down the left field line.

Austin Kearns drove in a run with a single in the ninth for the Nationals, his first RBI in 13 games.

Asked how the Nationals can snap out of their offensive funk, Dmitri Young said: "With a lucky game. We just need to get hits."

Or another player like Soriano.

Notes

  • The Cubs are above .500 at the midpoint of their season for the first time since 2004 (46-35). They are also an NL-best 19-9 since June 3.
  • In addition to the possible letdown in opening a road trip against a losing team, Piniella is also wary about the Cubs easing up in anticipation of the All-Star break vacation. "Let's just take three days off instead four or five," he said. "We need to play good on this road trip is all I'm trying to say. We can't look forward to the break."
  • Simontacchi has had a decision in every start this season. Boston's Tim Wakefield (8-8) is the only other pitcher to make at least 10 starts and get a decision in every one.
  • Washington's Robert Fick was ejected after being called out on strikes as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano collects two hits, a run, an RBI and a stolen base against his former team.  (AP)
The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano collects two hits, a run, an RBI and a stolen base against his former team. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

M. DeRosa
AB 5
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Chicago

T. Lilly
IP 7.0
H 3
ER 1
BB 3
K 5
 

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Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5121000 .305
Ryan Theriot, SS4110102 .266
Derrek Lee, 1B3200101 .342
Aramis Ramirez, 3B5132000 .312
Cliff Floyd, RF4110014 .295
    Felix Pie, CF1000000 .219
Mark DeRosa, 2B5023001 .286
Angel Pagan, CF-RF4020013 .281
Rob Bowen, C3101012 .225
Ted Lilly, P2000012 .118
   a- Jacque Jones, PH1000010 .227
    Billy Petrick, P0000000 .000
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
Totals37711725  
a-struck out for Lilly in the 8th
Batting
2B - Aramis Ramirez (13, Simontacchi)
SF - Rob Bowen (2)
SH - Ted Lilly (2)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano (31), Aramis Ramirez 2 (49), Mark DeRosa 3 (46), Rob Bowen (13)
2-OUT RBI - Alfonso Soriano (13), Mark DeRosa 2 (20)
SB - Alfonso Soriano (11, 2nd base off Traber/Schneider)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - DeRosa-Theriot-Lee, Ramirez-DeRosa-Lee
E - Derrek Lee 2 (3, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Ted Lilly (W,7-4) 7311350 3.84
Billy Petrick 1000010 3.86
Bob Howry 1211100 4.31
Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 115-72, Billy Petrick 15-8, Bob Howry 19-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 10-5, Billy Petrick 2-0, Bob Howry 2-1
Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 26, Billy Petrick 3, Bob Howry 6
Washington Nationals
Nook Logan, CF3011110 .224
Ronnie Belliard, 2B3000102 .290
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4120012 .248
Dmitri Young, 1B4000014 .335
Austin Kearns, RF4011002 .254
Ryan Church, LF4000000 .253
Felipe Lopez, SS3000110 .232
Brian Schneider, C4110001 .242
Jason Simontacchi, P0000000 .000
   a- Jesus Flores, PH1000010 .215
    Billy Traber, P0000000 .000
   b- D'Angelo Jimenez, PH0000100 .056
    Chris Schroder, P0000000 .000
   c- Robert Fick, PH1000010 .222
    Ray King, P0000000 .000
Totals3125246  
a-struck out for Simontacchi in the 3rd
b-walked for Traber in the 5th
c-struck out for Schroder in the 8th
Batting
2B - Nook Logan (6, Lilly), Ryan Zimmerman (19, Howry), Brian Schneider (10, Lilly)
RBI - Nook Logan (6), Austin Kearns (27)
2-OUT RBI - Nook Logan (6)
SB - Nook Logan (7, 3rd base off Lilly/Bowen)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Dmitri Young (8, Missed catch of throw)
Washington Nationals
Jason Simontacchi (L,5-6) 3755100 6.27
Billy Traber 2322120 5.09
Chris Schroder 3100030 2.16
Ray King 1000000 5.85
HBP - Lee (by Jason Simontacchi)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Simontacchi 59-38, Billy Traber 50-30, Chris Schroder 40-30, Ray King 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Simontacchi 6-3, Billy Traber 1-3, Chris Schroder 1-6, Ray King 2-1
Batters Faced - Jason Simontacchi 18, Billy Traber 10, Chris Schroder 11, Ray King 3
Game Information
Attendance - 24015
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Scott Barry, First Base - Andy Fletcher, Second Base - Mike Reilly, Third Base - Jeff Kellogg