Cubs got walk-off win Thursday (GETTY IMAGES)
The Cubs were mostly all right in Thursday's 6-5, come-from-behind victory over the White Sox, and manager Lou Piniella would like to see it stay that way for his right-handed hitters.
First baseman Derrek Lee went to right field to hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Slumping left fielder Alfonso Soriano went to center field for one hit, and he dunked a single into right for the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
Soriano has been slumping badly. Piniella and new hitting coach Von Joshua want Soriano to hit the opposite way more often.
"What Von is trying to do is instill a little more opposite-field hitting, staying with the ball a little longer," Piniella said. "More contact, those sort of things. We'll see."
The Cubs had scored just eight runs over the first four games of the homestand before they exploded late in Thursday's game.
They also walked three times and struck out three times after drawing no walks and striking out 11 times in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the White Sox. Piniella said that because the Cubs have been slumping, other teams don't need to pitch them as carefully, and the walk totals have dropped.
CUBS 6, WHITE SOX 5: Alfonso Soriano hit a single in the ninth inning to score Reed Johnson with the winning run. Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer in the eighth, and Geovany Soto followed with a solo shot to rally the Cubs from a 5-1 deficit.
--Lee extended his team-high hitting streak to 15 games with a three-run homer in the eighth inning Thursday. Lee has reached base safely in 25 consecutive games. He drove in four runs and now has the team lead in RBIs with 31.
--Soriano snapped an 0-for-15 skid with an eighth-inning single Thursday. He singled home the winning run in the ninth. Entering the game, he was 14-for-99 (.141) over his previous 23 games. "I think the monkey is off now," he said.
--3B Aramis Ramirez hit "soft-toss" pitches with a fungo bat Wednesday as he took another step in his recovery from a dislocated left shoulder. Batting practice will be the next step. Ramirez hopes to be back before the All-Star break, but he said he won't rush. He'll also likely need a minor league rehab stint.
--RHP Ryan Dempster earned his ninth quality start of the season, as he gave up three runs in six innings Wednesday against the White Sox. However, Dempster threw only 51 strikes among his 104 pitches, and his record fell to 4-4.
--RHP Carlos Zambrano turned in the Cubs' 40th quality start of the season. That leads the major leagues. Zambrano has four quality starts in a row. He worked seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs in getting a no-decision.
--RHP Carlos Marmol was shaky, giving up three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning. Manager Lou Piniella said Marmol needs to get more work and that the Cubs plan to get it for him. Marmol's most recent outing before Thursday was Sunday against the Twins. The Cubs had an off day and a rainout since then.
—C Geovany Soto stole the first base of his major league career in the fourth inning. He stole two bases in his minor league career. Soto's solo homer in the eighth was his fourth of the season. Three of his four homers have come in June as he tries to climb out of a hole he dug for himself early.
INF/OF Ryan Freel (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list May 28. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Iowa on June 15.
Ramirez (dislocated right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 9. He hit soft-toss pitches June 17, and he hopes to be back by the All-Star break.
LHP Jason Waddell (non-baseball-related medical issue) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13.
RHP Chad Fox (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 10. He might miss the remainder of the season.
IOWA 9, MEMPHIS 3 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, the Cubs (36-32) collected 11 hits for their 10th win in 13 games Thursday. LF John-Ford Griffin (3-for-3) paced the offense with three hits, including his seventh double, and drove in four runs. 2B Ryan Freel (2-for-4, walk, double), CF Sam Fuld (2-for-5) and C Steve Clevenger (2-for-4, double, two RBI) added two hits. RHP Mitch Atkins (5-7) started and picked up his third straight win, allowing two runs and six hits over seven innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.
TENNESSEE 7, CAROLINA 6 – GAME 1 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, CF Tyler Colvin (2-for-5) hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot in the 12th inning Thursday. Colvin, 2B Tony Thomas (2-for-6, RBI), LF Jim Adduci (2-for-6) and RF Doug Deeds (2-for-5) all had two hits. SS Darwin Barney (1-for-4) and PH Ty Wright (1-for-1) hit their second and third home runs of the year, respectively. RHP Marco Carrillo (1-0) picked up the victory in relief with 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He has allowed one run and seven hits in 12-plus innings for a 0.71 ERA.
CAROLINA 6, TENNESSEE 3 – GAME 2
The Smokies (29-38) collected nine hits in the loss with Adduci (2-for-3, double, walk) leading the team in hits. It was his sixth straight multi-hit game as he extended his hit streak to 11 consecutive games overall and raised his average to .311 through 60 games. 3B Marquez Smith (1-for-4, RBI) hit his 13th double. RHP Casey Coleman (6-3) started and suffered the loss, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked one.
ST. LUCIE 2, DAYTONA 1 (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (31-31) were held to three hits as they closed out the first half of the Florida State League schedule. LF Tony Campana (1-for-4) provided the team’s only offense with a run-scoring single. He stole his 28th base of the season, most in the Cubs’ system. SS Starlin Castro (1-for-4) stole his 13th base. RHP Dan McDaniel started and scattered one run and five hits over six innings for a no-decision. He struck out three and walked one. LHP Dustin Sasser (4-1) suffered his first loss in relief, allowing one run and two hits in three innings. It was his first earned run allowed in over 17 innings.
PEORIA 5, BURLINGTON 4 – 10 INNINGS (CLASS-A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (36-30) got a walk-off RBI single from 3B Josh Vitters (2-for-5) for their sixth consecutive win Thursday.
With a runner at second and one out in the 10th, Bees manager Jim Gabella elected to intentionally walk Josh Harrison, the Chiefs’ top hitter for average, to set up a force with Vitters at the plate. Vitters singled in the winning run with a base hit to right field.
“I’m sure he (Gabella) was looking at his stat pack and Harrison is hitting .421 (over his last five games),” said Chiefs manager Marty Pevey.
“I don’t know if I would’ve walked him. In his mind, I’m sure he did the right thing. He’s thinking, ‘All we need is a groundball. We have a (slow) footed third baseman running. We get a groundball, inning over.’”
The Chiefs collected nine hits in the victory with C Michael Brenly (3-for-4) collecting two doubles and three RBI. Brenly has six hits in his last seven at-bats.
RHP Chris Archer started and allowed two runs and four hits in three innings, striking out five batters and walking two in a no-decision. RHP Manolin DeLeon (3-0) picked up his second win in relief this week with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
InsideTheIvy.com correspondent Adam Franey in Peoria contributed reporting.