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Soriano, Cubs sprint past Diamondbacks
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff

Alfonso Soriano beats the throw to Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder with a head-first slide in the third inning Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.


Associated Press

Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, left, slides safely into home plate as Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder tries to find the ball during the third inning .


Associated Press

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Published: 5/11/2008 12:05 AM

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Just when it looked like the Cubs were going to run themselves out of Saturday's game, they ended up running away with a second straight win over the team with the best record in baseball.

The catalyst for all the wild plays on the bases? None other than maligned leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano, who banged out 4 hits and scored twice on bang-bang plays at the plate.

A season-high 41,597 at Wrigley Field saw the Cubs come from behind again to beat Arizona, this time with a 6-run seventh inning in their 7-2 victory.

The Cubs ran through stop signs and ran into a pair of outs at home plate, but never stopped being aggressive. And it paid off in the seventh, as five different players drove in 6 runs.

Soriano knocked in the go-head run with a double to the gap in left-center. He then scored on Ryan Theriot's single, barely beating the tag.

That followed Soriano scoring the Cubs' first run in the third, when he came all the way from first base as right fielder Justin Upton bobbled a Theriot single.

Soriano ran through third base coach Mike Quade's stop sign, and would have been out if he didn't jar the ball loose from catcher Chris Snyder.

"I was running a lot today," said Soriano, who indicated the legs that have bothered him much of the last two years are feeling better. "I was a little scared because it's a little cold, but I think I'm OK. I just want to feel more comfortable with my legs.

"I'm glad I had a good game but more important is we won this game."

The Cubs managed only an unearned run in 6 innings against Arizona starter Max Scherzer, but they torched Diamondback relievers Chad Qualls and Brandon Medders for 6 hits and 6 runs in the seventh.

Qualls entered the day with a 0.93 ERA. Like he did in Friday's 3-1 win, Mark DeRosa started the rally with a hit.

Kosuke Fukudome capped the inning with a homer to left, his first since Opening Day. Darryl Ward and Aramis Ramirez also drove in runs.

"Really good offensive inning," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "One of our better innings this year, some really nice hitting."

The rally made a winner of Scott Eyre, who took over in the seventh after another strong start by Ryan Dempster.

Dempster cruised through 5 scoreless innings, striking out the side in the fifth.

Arizona loaded the bases in the sixth. Dempster thought he'd struck out Upton on a 2-2 pitch that was called low. Upton walked two pitches later to drive in the first run, then Mark Reynolds' groundout gave Arizona a 2-1 lead.

Dempster stopped and talked to home plate umpire Dana DeMuth on his way off the field.

"I just asked him where he had reservations for dinner," Dempster joked. "Sometimes you throw a pitch you think is a strike and they might differ. More important than that is I didn't let it bother me because the bases were still loaded and only one out."

Keeping the game close allowed the Cubs to win it with their seventh-inning onslaught, which included one of the hits that raised Soriano's average from .191 to .223.

It was his first 4-hit game since June 8 of last year.

"He's been swinging the bat better," Piniella said. "He's been coming, he's been working hard."