Cubs' extra effort goes unrewarded at Wrigley

Cubs' extra effort goes unrewarded at Wrigley

Cubs' extra effort goes unrewarded at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run Wednesday night but was upset he didn't get a chance to try for No. 31 in the 11th.

Brandon Phillips reached second on an error by David DeJesus with two outs in the 11th and scored on Drew Stubbs' RBI single to lift the Reds to a 6-5 victory Wednesday over the Cubs. With the win, the Reds' magic number to clinch the National League Central Division is three.

The game was tied at 5 with two outs in the Reds' 11th against Alberto Cabrera (0-1) when Phillips was safe at second on DeJesus' error. The outfielder appeared to be fooled by the gusting wind and overran the ball. Phillips then scored on Stubbs' single to left-center.

"It wasn't easy," Soriano said about dealing with the wind. "The wind was so crazy."

The elements weren't going to stop Soriano's home run, which came with two outs in the sixth off Mike Leake.

"He did it in style," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "The ball wasn't walking out of there. I think that was going out regardless of wind."

This is the sixth time in Soriano's career, and the second time with the Cubs, that he has reached 30. He hit 33 homers in 2007 for Chicago. The elder statesman on the team also is the second player in Major League Baseball history to reach 30 home runs despite not hitting any in his first 30 games. Soriano's first blast came May 15 in his 31st game. Dwight Evans hit 32 home runs in 1982 for the Red Sox, but he didn't hit his first that season until his 39th game.

Soriano, 36, has 103 RBIs, one shy of his career high of 104 set in 2005 with the Rangers.

"I'm proud of myself, I've been working hard," Soriano said. "I always say, if I'm healthy, the numbers will be there. We came up short tonight."

He was on deck in the 11th when rookie Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging to end the game, and Soriano slammed his bat to the ground in disgust.

"It's always very sad to see us lose a game, especially after we come back," Soriano said. "I get a little frustrated because I wanted to win that game because we lost the last two games in a row."

He's set a good example for the young players on the Cubs' roster. Sveum hopes the kids are paying attention.

"He's key," Sveum said. "He's one of the guys who the people in the clubhouse know how important he is to play with his injuries and play every single day."

"I'm a veteran guy here," Soriano said, "and these guys see me, and I think I have to do the best I can so they can learn something from me. That's what I try to do is play hard every day and they can learn something from me."

Soriano is the fifth Cubs player, age 36 or older, to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in a season, joining Hank Sauer, Andre Dawson, Fred McGriff and Moises Alou.

The Reds were without manager Dusty Baker, 63, the former Cubs skipper, who was kept overnight at a local hospital for precautionary tests for an irregular heartbeat. After the game, Baker reported that he was feeling fine and expected to rejoin the Reds on Friday.

Cincinnati may be able to celebrate a division title then.

The Reds tallied with one out in the first against Chicago starter Chris Rusin on Joey Votto's RBI double. Cincinnati loaded the bases on three singles with one out in the third, and Votto, who had no RBIs since coming back from the disabled list Sept. 3, followed with a two-run single. Ryan Ludwick added an RBI single to make it 4-0.

"I felt good," Rusin said. "It was one of those days where the ball finds the holes."

The lefty tried to use the elements to his advantage.

"You hope these hitters are going to swing extra hard and take bigger hacks, and that way your offspeed will work," Rusin said. "I've got to get in a better rhythm and keep the ball down, especially in this wind. If you get the ball up, the wind will take it out of here."

Cincinnati had a 5-1 lead when Soriano connected with two outs and one on in the sixth, launching a 2-0 pitch over the left-field bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue. Starlin Castro then singled and scored on Luis Valbuena's double. But Valbuena appeared to be fidgeting with his batting gloves when he was picked off at second to end the inning.

What happened?

"I have no idea," Sveum said.

The Cubs had chances, loading the bases in the eighth and again in the 10th, but failed to capitalize.

"We had our opportunities," Sveum said. "We just couldn't put the ball in play when we had our opportunities."

The Cubs' magic number remained at five. They need five wins to avoid a 100-loss season, which would be the team's first since the 1966 Cubs lost 103 games.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.