Facing tough matchup, Soriano lifts Cubs to win
Left fielder drives in go-ahead run with first knock off Cards' Boggs
By Steve Overbey / Special to MLB.com | 5/15/2012 12:13 AM ET
CHC@STL: Soriano plates go-ahead run in the eighth
ST. LOUIS -- Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano knew the numbers were stacked against him. He simply took the positive approach and figured he was way overdue.
Soriano broke open a tie game with an RBI single in the eighth inning against longtime nemesis Mitchell Boggs to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday before 44,276 at Busch Stadium. Chicago has won 12 of 21 games since a 3-11 start to the season.
Soriano was 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts against Boggs when he stepped to the plate with the game tied at 4, two outs and Tony Campana on second.
"I cannot think about what happened in the past," Soriano said. "Today was a new day and new at-bat. I just tried to put the ball in play."
Soriano blooped the ball into left-center field for the go-ahead hit. Chicago, which now has back-to-back wins, added a run in the ninth on a St. Louis error.
The win was particularly satisfying to Soriano, who finally got the best of Boggs.
"He got me out plenty of times," Soriano said. "But tonight was my night."
Boggs felt he should have been a little more aggressive against Soriano.
"I've got to make better pitches there," he said. "Was it a bad pitch? No. Did he do what he had to do? Absolutely."
Chicago did not appear to need Soriano's heroics after staking ace Ryan Dempster to a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning. Dempster entered the game with the least run-support among regular National League starters at a paltry 2.04 tallies per game. He was 0-1 on the season, despite entering the day leading the Major Leagues with a 1.02 ERA.
Chicago hitters gave Dempster his first real cushion of the season, but the right-hander was unable to hold the lead. He surrendered four runs in the sixth inning, matching the total he had given up in his first 25 1/3 innings this season and driving his ERA to 1.74.
Chicago relievers Shawn Camp and Rafael Dolis shut the door in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Camp earned his second win, and Dolis secured his fourth save in six chances.
Starlin Castro got the ball rolling in the Cubs' four-run fifth inning with an RBI single that brought in Campana with the first run of the game. Castro scored one batter later on a two-run blast down the right-field like by first baseman Bryan LaHair. It was the team-leading ninth homer for LaHair, and his fourth against the Cardinals this season.
"It's the same thing I try to do every day," said LaHair, who went 3-for-4. "I've just been fortunate to have some success against them."
Ian Stewart followed the LaHair homer with a double. He came around to score on a hit by Geovany Soto.
The Cardinals came right back against Dempster to tie the contest. Lance Berkman began the uprising with a run-scoring single that brought in Jon Jay. Yadier Molina drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double that trimmed the deficit to one. The Cubs temporarily cut down the tying run at the plate, when Castro fired a relay strike to Soto, who put the tag on David Freese. But Skip Schumaker brought in Molina with a hit to tie the game.
Dempster gave up four earned runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked one. He surrendered just four hits through the first five innings and set the side down in order three times.
The performance was the worst of Dempster's six starts the season, but he preferred to look on the bright side.
"Baby steps, we got a win when I started a game," he said. "That's kind of nice. I feel like I did my part."
Dempster said he made, "some good pitches," in the sixth inning but made one huge mistake to Molina.
"I just kept plugging away and was able to keep it close and we got some big hits later in the game," he said. "This is a big win for us. These guys are in first place and it was big to win this first game."
Given the lead, Camp and Dolis took over from there. Camp retired the side in the seventh on six pitches, and he gave up a leadoff double to Allen Craig in the eighth before retiring the next three batters in order. Dolis struck out two in a perfect ninth as he tries to stabilize the Cubs' closing role, which was rocked by Carlos Marmol's ineffectiveness and injury.
David DeJesus, Stewart, Soto and Castro each added two hits to the 14-hit attack. The Cubs stranded a season-high 14 runners. They left the bases loaded in the second, third and seventh innings.