Cubs win slugfest nightcap of twin bill

Cubs win slugfest nightcap of twin bill

Cubs win slugfest nightcap of twin bill
CINCINNATI -- Saturday was a day full of milestones for the Cubs.

Alfonso Soriano reached the 1,000-RBIs mark with his two-run homer in the first inning of the first half of the day's doubleheader.

By the end of the night, 24-year-old starter Brooks Raley had chalked up his first big league base hit along with his first Major League win, which was kick started by Brett Jackson's first career home run.

All these forces, combined with Reds pitcher Todd Redmond's first MLB start added up to give the Cubs their first road win in 10 tries, in a 9-7 nail biter Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.

"It's a big relief for anybody to finally get over the hump," Raley said. "I got a first win, [Jackson] got his big hit, and Soriano, with the milestone he's crossed, it's like three different things and that's huge. Moving forward, hopefully positive things come from that."

Raley's efforts Saturday ensured more positives are coming to him at the very least. The righty lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in just his third start career start. The effort earned him at least one more start, on Aug. 25, when the Cubs host the Rockies.

Raley had given up just one hit through the first four innings -- a solo homer from Ryan Ludwick -- and left the game with a steady three-run lead under his belt and helped ensure the Cubs didn't walk away empty-handed Saturday.

"It's nice to come out with one of them," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "Raley kept us in the game and did a nice job. It's nice to see a guy who can get the ground balls and balls off the end of the bat with his sinker."

Raley was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday to be the 26th man on the roster in the day's doubleheader -- a new rule to baseball in 2012.

The club said after the game they will likely designate Raley back to Iowa on Sunday, but plan to recall him in a week.

The nine runs are the most the Cubs have scored since July 30, and the rally was given life by Jackson, who cranked the first home run of his young career to lead off the second inning.

"It feels good to get the monkey off the back, if you will," said Jackson, with a smile glued to his face.

Jackson entered the game struggling at the plate, hitting just .179 in 11 games since being called up earlier this month, but said he felt more comfortable at the plate Saturday than ever before.

"I think today is the best I've felt at the plate despite the strikeouts," said Jackson, who fanned three times in the contest. "I let it loose a little bit today. Not to say I was holding back before, but I've been working tirelessly with James [Rowson, hitting coach] and Dale on some stuff. New stuff can be a challenge to put into the game, but today I kind of felt good and let the swing go."

Jackson cranked his home run off Redmond -- who was saddled with the first loss of his career -- 347 feet straight into the Cubs bullpen in right field.

He couldn't have picked a better spot to land it.

"I hit it in the bullpen, so it's sitting right there," said Jackson, pointing into his locker. "So, that's pretty cool. Pretty nice placement."

While there hasn't been all that much to smile about this season in Chicago, the elation was visible inside the clubhouse after Saturday night's win.

The Reds chipped away at the lead down the stretch, closing what was once a six-run deficit to just one run. But the Cubs held on to give Raley one of what he hopes is many more wins to come in his career.

"They showed again tonight, they're not going to quit until the last out," Raley said. "We had some guys make some big pitches along the way and got us a 'W.' You always hear the first [win] isn't easy. The first one is definitely a tough one to get out of the way, and we played great today."

Mark Clements is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.