Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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Soriano's slam wins it for Cubs in 13th

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[July 28, 2009]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano redeemed himself for an earlier mental miscue by hitting a game-ending grand slam in the 13th inning to lead the Chicago Cubs past the Houston Astros 5-1 on Monday night.

DonutsReliever Chris Sampson (4-2) gave up a leadoff walk on four pitches to Derrek Lee in the 13th, and Aramis Ramirez followed with a single to put runners on first and third. After an intentional walk to Milton Bradley loaded the bases, Soriano followed with a long homer -- his fourth career slam -- over the center-field wall to end it.

Jeff Samardzija (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings in relief and Lee also homered as the Cubs won their fifth straight and maintained their half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

Soriano had an embarrassing moment in the 11th, when he hit a slow bouncer to third with one out and a runner on first. He didn't run, even though the ball was fair, and continued to stand in the box after he was thrown out at first and booed by the fans.


The Cubs had a great opportunity to win the game in the ninth when Bradley drew a leadoff walk off Astros reliever Jose Valverde. Bradley swiped second base as Soriano struck out, and Valverde intentionally walked pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir and Kosuke Fukudome, also drew a pinch-hit walk to load the bases.

Valverde got a break when the Cubs couldn't execute a suicide squeeze. Bradley broke for the plate as pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot attempted a bunt, but Fontenot missed and Bradley was tagged out well before the plate by catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Fontenot later ended the inning by flying out to center to boos.

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano allowed a home run to Carlos Lee on an 0-2 pitch in the second inning, while Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez gave up a homer to Derrek Lee -- also on an 0-2 pitch -- in the fourth that landed on Waveland Ave. It was his 20th of the season, matching his home run total of 2008.

With runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh, Zambrano ended the inning by striking out Chris Coste. The always demonstrative Zambrano, yelled as he walked to the dugout with the fans on their feet.

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Rodriguez allowed a two-out double to Jeff Baker in the seventh. Astros manager Cecil Cooper decided to intentionally walk eighth hitter Hill, which set up Cubs manager Lou Piniella's decision to stick with Zambrano to bat. Zambrano, who earlier doubled, came to the plate with the fans chanting "Let's Go Z!" but he ended the inning and his day by hitting into a fielder's choice.

Rodriguez allowed just one run on six hits, struck out seven and walked two. Zambrano gave up one run and three hits, and worked around four walks by striking out four.

NOTES: Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins was ejected in the eighth inning for apparently arguing balls and strikes. ... Cubs LHP Ted Lilly, on the DL with left shoulder inflammation, also had his left knee scoped Monday, which is not related to his shoulder injury. According to Piniella, the procedure went well. He is expected to be back in mid August. ... RHP Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Astros. He has been on the DL with a broken right toe since July 7. Piniella expects to keep his pitch count around 80-85 pitches.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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