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Soto hits 2 3-run homers and Cubs thump Brewers 19-5

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[May 01, 2008]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Mark Cuban picked a good night to have a front-row seat at Wrigley Field. The longtime Cubs fan and prospective owner watched Geovany Soto hit two three-run homers as Chicago pounded the Milwaukee Brewers 19-5 on Wednesday night.

It was the Cubs' biggest outburst since a 20-1 whipping of the Los Angles Dodgers on May 5, 2001. And the Brewers had not allowed that many since they gave up 19 at Colorado on Aug. 8.

The Cubs scored six runs each in the first and eighth innings while batting around, and leading the charge was a rookie who appeared in just 18 games last season.

Soto's shot in the first capped a six-run outburst, and he finished off a five-run fourth by going deep again off reliever Brian Shouse, who had just come in for Jeff Suppan (1-1). It was the first multihomer game for Soto, who made a big impression by batting .389 for the Cubs last year, and the six RBIs were a career high.

That had to please Cuban, who finished off a busy day by watching his favorite baseball team from the Tribune Company's seats next to the Cubs' dugout. The Dallas Mavericks owner fired coach Avery Johnson by cell phone from Chicago. Then had a front-row seat and a beverage in hand at Wrigley Field.

Cuban's interest in buying the Cubs from Tribune is no secret, but he apparently wasn't in the mood to talk to most members of the media -- ESPN's Erin Andrews being the exception. Others had been shooed away by an usher.

A longtime fan and occasional visitor to Wrigley Field over the years, he had to like what he saw before he left in the middle of the fifth with the Cubs leading 12-3.

After losing four of five and falling 10-7 in the opener of this three-game set, the NL Central leaders wasted no time jumping on Suppan.

Soto, who struck out in eight straight at-bats before going 2-for-4 on Tuesday, capped the first-inning outburst by lining a pitch out to left field. But the beating was well under way before he stepped to the plate.

Back-to-back RBI doubles off the wall by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez made it 3-0 with no outs, and the Cubs continued to pound away at Suppan.

The veteran right-hander allowed a career-high 11 runs (eight earned) and 11 hits over 3 2-3 innings and his ERA jumped from 3.48 to 5.19. An RBI single by Mark DeRosa finally knocked him out and Soto greeted Shouse by hitting his fifth homer this year.

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He got a loud ovation when he came to bat with runners on first and second in the sixth, but struck out swinging.

While Soto enjoyed his best game, Lee and Ramirez gave the Cubs two players with 20 or more RBIs in April for the first time. Lee's double in the first gave him 23, while Ramirez has 22 after driving in three.

The Cubs' 17 hits were one shy of their season high.

The onslaught made things easy for Ryan Dempster (4-0) and probably whetted Alfonso Soriano's appetite to return. He'll be back at the top of the order and in left field on Thursday after spending 15 days on the disabled list because of a strained right calf.

Dempster allowed three runs and four hits in six innings but walked five while striking out one.

Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun had two hits apiece, and Mike Rivera hit his first homer of the season -- a two-run shot off Bob Howry in the seventh.

[Associated Press; By ANDREW SELIGMAN]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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