Soler's homers, Alcantara's walk-off lift Cubs in 10
By Carrie Muskat and Mark Sheldon
CHICAGO -- For the second straight day, the Cubs rallied for a win, something they didn't do last season. Jorge Soler smacked a pair of two-run homers and Arismendy Alcantara delivered a walk-off RBI single with one out in the 10th, his first hit of the season, to power the Cubs to a 7-6, come-from-behind victory over the Reds on Monday night.
"When you start doing things like this, you believe you can win late, and that's really important," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's also really important to feel you can come from behind, which we've done two days in a row late. Those are two of the best things you can possibly get across to a young team. Yes, I've enjoyed it."
Think about this: The Cubs were 0-79 last season when trailing in the ninth.
With Monday's game tied at 6 in the 10th, Manny Parra walked Anthony Rizzo, who advanced on a wild pitch and reached third on Soler's single. Chris Coghlan, who hit a solo home run in the sixth, then walked to load the bases. Burke Badenhop replaced Parra, and got Starlin Castro to hit into a fielder's choice, forcing Rizzo out at home. Alcantara then lined an 0-2 pitch to center for the game-winner, and his first career walk-off hit.
Soler launched a two-run homer with one out in the first off Reds starter Mike Leake, and tied the game at 6 with another two-run blast in the eighth off Jumbo Diaz. It's his second career multi-homer game and first at Wrigley Field; Soler also hit a pair last Aug. 29 at St. Louis.
"I missed the pitch and he got me," Diaz said.
"His power is just ridiculous," Chicago's Jon Lester said of Soler. "How he's able to cover a lot of the plate -- he's so big, he's so strong. He doesn't have to swing hard to hit the ball out."
Lester did not get a decision in his second start. The lefty, who the Cubs signed this offseason to a six-year, $155 million contract, gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings. It's the most earned runs off Lester since the Blue Jays scored seven last May 22.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Comeback kids: On Sunday, the Cubs rallied with three runs in the ninth to beat the Rockies. On Monday, they matched the Reds' three-run first inning with a trio of runs in their half, including two on Soler's first home run. The ball landed in the empty left-field bleacher seats, which are still under construction. Soler's second homer was a solid shot to center.
He came out for a curtain call after the second blast, the first time he's done that in his young career.
"I was nervous, too," Soler said, smiling.
Problem eighth for Reds, again: For the second day in a row, Diaz blew a two-run, eighth-inning lead only two batters into an appearance. Before Soler went deep, Diaz started by giving up Rizzo's leadoff walk. The Reds' bullpen, a problem last season, has four blown saves in the first seven games -- all before getting to closer Aroldis Chapman. More >
Byrd flies in sixth: It was a 3-3 game in the sixth when Byrd slashed a hard RBI double down the left-field line to score Phillips from first base. Byrd looked pretty excited at second base after the hit. Entering the at-bat, Cincinnati's top offseason acquisition was 2-for-23 (.087) for the young season.
"This guy has won a World Series. He's really, really good. The answer is 'Yes.'" -- Maddon when asked if Lester's lack of throwing to first was being overblown.
"The offense did their job. They came out swinging and set the tone for us. But I didn't do my job early and let them back in it. I kept [the Cubs] confident I guess. I settled in after that and the offense did a good job of coming back and scoring more for us." -- Leake, who gave up four earned runs and seven hits over seven innings in a no-decision.
The Cubs challenged a call in the top of the third when Phillips was called safe trying to get back to first. Catcher David Ross had thrown to Rizzo on the pickoff attempt. After a 2 minute 50 second review, the call was upheld.
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Lester threw to first base to try and pick off Zack Cozart in the second inning. It was the first time the lefty had done so since April 30, 2013, and was greeted by a sarcastic cheer from the crowd.
The only batter Leake had problems with was Coghlan, who went 3-for-3 against the right-hander, hitting a double in the first, a single in the third, and a leadoff homer in the sixth. Coghlan is now 8-for-8 in his career vs. the Reds right-hander. Coghlan moved to third base in the eighth, the first time he's played there since 2013 with the Marlins, when he made eight starts. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Following his decent debut on Thursday, Anthony DeSclafani will make his second start when he faces the Cubs on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET. DeSclafani allowed two earned runs and five hits over six innings despite being interrupted by a rain delay that lasted over one hour. He faced the Cubs last June while with the Marlins and gave up four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta makes his second start of the season on Tuesday night when the Cubs play host to the Reds in the second game of their three-game series. In his first outing, Arrieta threw seven shutout innings against the Cardinals. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Plus and WBBM radio. The Cubs will be collecting money before the game to help victims of last week's tornadoes in Fairdale and Rochelle, Ill. The money raised will benefit the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort. Proceeds from Tuesday's Cubs Charities 50/50 Raffle also will benefit the cause.