|No extra innings needed: Cubs beat Pittsburgh 7-3 to complete series sweep|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 10 April 2008 23:35|
Then again, everything looks easy for the Chicago Cubs these days.
Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot hit two-run homers in Chicago's five-run sixth inning and the Cubs finished off a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh, winning 7-3 Thursday night at PNC Park to run their winning streak to five games.
Soto had three extra-base hits, including two doubles, among his second-career four-hit game, and Derrek Lee also drove in two runs despite not getting a hit as the Cubs won their sixth in a row over the Pirates dating to last season.
Soto had a chance to hit for the cycle, but he didn't think of trying to stretch a double into a triple in the seventh. He grounded out in the ninth.
``I already hit my one (triple) for the year. I'll take them if they come, but I don't want to get greedy,'' Soto said. ``I'm not a triple-type guy.''
Jon Lieber (2-1) got the decision by pitching 4 1-3 scoreless relief innings after starter Rich Hill needed 72 pitches to get through three innings, allowing three runs and three hits while walking four. Lieber pitched 7 1-3 scoreless relief innings in the series, three of them during a 10-8, 12-inning win Monday in the Pirates' home opener.
``Without Lieber, we really would have had problems,'' manager Lou Piniella said. ``We were looking for innings. ... (Hill) was all over the place. There was no use keeping him in there. It wasn't going to get any better.''
In other NL games, it was Cincinnati 4, Milwaukee 1; Florida 4, Washington 3; San Francisco 5, St. Louis 1; and the New York Mets 4, Philadelphia 3 in 12 innings.
The Atlanta Braves-Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field was postponed because of snow and rescheduled for June 16, which had been a day off for both teams.
After going 12 and 15 innings to win the first two games - the first time in 81 years they've needed that many innings to win consecutive road games - the Cubs won Thursday night with one big inning against the pitching-thin Pirates, who've dropped five of six.
The Cubs scored at least six runs in every game of the series and have scored 35 runs in their past five games.
Their winning streak is the longest since winning seven in a row last June 22-29.
``I'm glad it didn't go (extra innings),'' said Soto, who went 8-for-17 while catching all 36 innings in the series - apparently with no effect on his offense.
The Cubs withstood two homer-driven comebacks to win 6-4 in 15 innings on Wednesday night.
``I think any situation like that, if anybody can go in there and do that, it's definitely huge,'' Lieber said of propping up the bullpen with his strong outing. ``You want to give those guys a break down there, especially after last night's ballgame.''
After emptying their bullpen in consecutive games, the Pirates needed a lot of innings from starter Matt Morris (0-1), who lasted seven but gave up 11 hits and seven runs, four earned.
``I tried to avoid thinking about that all day - the obvious thing is (to think), 'I've got to go 8, I've got to go 9, I've got to go 7, whatever it is.' And as soon as you start thinking like that, you can barely get out of the first,'' Morris said.
Morris led 3-2 going into the sixth, but quickly fell behind when Kosuke Fukudome walked and Soto followed with a drive into the center field shrubbery for his second homer.
Morris has lost six of his past seven decisions against the Cubs and seven of his past nine after starting his career 10-2 against them.
``I had the game in front of me but, all of a sudden, the home run just changed everything and it snowballed,'' Morris said.
Reds 4, Brewers 1
At Milwaukee, Aaron Harang (1-1) pitched eight innings, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Francisco Cordero earned a save against his former team.
Tied 1-1 going into the seventh, Cincinnati scored three runs to chase Carlos Villanueva (1-1), who had held the Reds hitless into the fifth inning. That's when he gave up a single to Scott Hatteberg and an RBI double by Paul Bako.
Mets 4, Phillies 3, 12 innings
At New York, Jose Reyes scored the winning run with a deft slide at the plate on Angel Pagan's 12th-inning single, and New York took the last two of a three-game series after losing nine straight to Philadelphia - including the final eight meetings in 2007.
Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz homered for the Phillies, who scored twice in the eighth off struggling setup man Aaron Heilman to tie it at 3 and spoil a strong outing by John Maine.
Reyes doubled off Tom Gordon (0-2) and Pagan's two-out single was his third hit.
Marlins 4, Nationals 3
At Washington, Mark Hendrickson (2-1) pitched seven strong innings, and Jorge Cantu produced three hits and two RBIs to help the Marlins complete a three-game sweep that stretched the Nationals' losing streak to seven games.
The Marlins, who finished last in the NL East last season, have won five of six games to improve to 6-3 atop the division. The Nationals have gone from 3-0 to 3-7.
Giants 5, Cardinals 1
At San Francisco, Kevin Correia carried a shutout into the eighth inning in one of his best starts yet, leading San Francisco to its third straight victory.
Correia (1-1) allowed five hits in 7 2-3 innings, struck out four, walked two and also singled for the Giants, who are on a little roll after losing six of their first seven games.
Adam Wainwright (1-1) allowed four runs and eight hits, striking out six in seven innings.