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