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Continued lack of production from Soriano
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/3/2008 1:14 AM

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Alfonso Soriano is in the middle of his second straight postseason flop with the Cubs.

After going 2-for-14 and hitting .143 against Arizona last fall as the Cubs went three and out in the NLDS, Soriano was 0-for-5 in Wednesday's Game 1 loss to the Dodgers with 2 strikeouts and 3 pops to the infield.

He wasn't much better Thursday in Game 2, going 1-4 in the 10-3 loss at Wrigley Field.

"They're playing very good and we're playing bad," Soriano said. "We have to forget what happened in these two games."

As most teams try to do, the Dodgers worked Soriano away and hoped he would bite at some bad pitches, which he often does.

"Soriano, he's a power threat every time he comes up so you've got to be careful with that guy," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "He's got a few holes, and you've just got to attack them the right way. You can't really make mistakes with that guy. I think that's our mind-set."

Soriano lined a single to left in his first appearance Thursday and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But he died there as Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee struck out on pathetic at-bats against Chad Billingsley, and Aramis Ramirez flew out meekly to center.

"When I swing at strikes, I hit the ball hard," Soriano said. "When I don't hit the ball hard is when I swing at bad pitches. I want to be more selective at home plate, swing at strikes and see what happens."

Soriano flied to right in the third and struck out in the sixth, drawing loud boos from the crowd as he walked slowly back to the dugout.

Soriano hasn't been a clutch playoff performer throughout his career. He was a .221 hitter in 16 division series games before Wednesday and has batted .222 in 12 championship series games and .234 in 13 World Series games.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella defended Soriano against the rap that he is not a big-game player.

"I think it's unfair," Piniella said. "You can always point the finger wherever you want, but it's a team game. And just because one guy struggles, other people can pick it up.

"Obviously you look for your big people to do special things, but I've always been of the school of thought that baseball is an individual game, but boy, I'll tell you, it's team."

And Piniella's team is in big trouble now, down 0-2 heading to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 on Saturday night.

"The leadoff man sets the tone in a way for an offense, and when Soriano hits the ball well and has good offensive games, our club responds," Piniella said. "But to say that if he doesn't do it that we shouldn't score runs, that's not true."

The Cubs have scored only 5 runs in the first two games of the best-of-five series. Second baseman Mark DeRosa, whose critical error in the second inning led to 5 runs, spoke before the game about how the Cubs were pressing in Game 1. They looked even tighter in Game 2.

"You felt like everyone was trying to do it by themselves," DeRosa said. "I just think we need to relax a little bit and let our offense flow."