The All-Star, Alfonso Soriano and Five Longballs – Cubs 7, Angels 2

Game Eighty-Eight – Cubs 7, Angels 2

WP – Travis Wood (6-6) LP – Joe Blanton (2-11) Save – None

wflag-pubThe Cubs posted their fourth straight win on Tuesday night behind an excellent outing from Travis Wood, the red-hot Alfonso Soriano and five home runs.

The Cubs hit a season-high five homers that accounted for all seven of their runs on Tuesday night. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-3 with two home runs and a walk) hit two more home runs and Soriano went back-to-back with Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a home run) in the first inning that gave the Cubs an early 2-0 lead. Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) hit his fifth longball in the third that gave Travis Wood a little breathing room. But the Cubs were not done.

Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead with his fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot off Joe Blanton that chased the Angels’ starter from the game. Alfonso Soriano then capped his night with a solo homer in the seventh. Soriano recorded his second multi-homer game in four days and he has hit nine home runs in his last 12 games.

The Cubs managed only nine hits, five left the yard, and Dioner Navarro (1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a walk) was on board for Barney’s shot in the sixth. The Cubs have hit at least one home run in 10 straight home games after hitting five on Tuesday night for the first time since June 18, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Travis Wood recorded his 17 quality start in 18 tries on Tuesday after making only one mistake in 6 2/3 innings. On a night the wind was howling out, Wood held a very good Angels’ offense to two runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Wood faced minimum over the first 5 2/3 innings and allowed only one hit before a two-out single by Joe Blanton in the sixth. Albert Pujols hit a two-run shot off Wood in the seventh that accounted for all of the runs he allowed on the night. Wood ran out of gas with two outs in the seventh after throwing 89 pitches, 55 for strikes. Wood turned the game over to the pen with two on and the Cubs up by four runs.

Matt Guerrier struck out Brad Hawpe swinging to end the seventh after he walked pinch-hitter Hank Conger to load the bases. Blake Parker pitched a perfect eighth and Pedro Strop retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close out Travis Wood’s first win since May 30.

Travis Wood became the first Cubs’ pitcher since Greg Maddux (1988) to record 17 quality starts before the All-Star break.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Travis Wood on Tuesday night. Nate Schierholtz, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Julio Borbon turned in excellent plays in the field.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 14th homer of the season in the second inning and took over sole possession of 58th place on the All-Time Home Run list. Soriano passed Dwight Evans and with his second homer of the night in the seventh inning, Soriano is three behind the great Johnny Bench (390) for the most homers in big league history.

Alfonso Soriano went deep twice in the same game for the second time since Saturday and for the 33rd time in his career. With his solo shot in the seventh, Soriano tied Derrek Lee for 11th on the Cubs’ All-Time Home Run list with 179. Hack Wilson would be next up for Soriano. Wilson hit 190 homers in a Cubs’ uniform.

Alfonso Soriano is 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases short of becoming the fourth player in the history of the game with 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. If Soriano can reach the marks, he would join Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson as the only players to accomplish both feats.

With Tuesday’s victory, the Cubs have won 11 of 17 and improved to 40-48 on the season.

Travis Wood struck out Aybar swinging and Trout looking to start the game. Albert Pujols lined a 2-1 pitch into center. Julio Borbon tried to make a diving catch running in toward the infield but the ball hit off his glove and rolled behind him. Nate Schierholtz backed up the play and threw to Castro to nail Pujols trying to stretch a single into a double … the play was not close. Wood threw 16 pitches in the first, 10 for strikes.

Julio Borbon popped a bunt attempt toward the mound that Blanton made a leaping catch on to haul in for the first out. Castro grounded out to second. Rizzo stepped in after Blanton recorded two quick outs.

Anthony Rizzo lined a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right and gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead on his 13th homer of the season, and his first since June 23.

Alfonso Soriano followed and launched a 1-0 pitch to deep left center. As Pat Hughes says, “Get out the tape measure.” The ball was long gone into the bleachers in left center. Soriano’s seventh longball in 11 games gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Valbuena grounded out to short for the third out.

Travis Wood retired the Angels in order in the second … 23 pitches for Wood after two, 15 for strikes.

The game remained 2-0 Cubs until the bottom of the third. Wood set down the side in order in the third. Wood needed 33 pitches, 21 for strikes, to complete three innings on Tuesday night.

Starlin Castro added to the Cubs’ lead in the third. Castro drove a 2-0 pitch to right center. The wind caught the ball and Castro ended up with his fifth homer of the season. Rizzo reached on an infield single to third but Soriano rapped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

The game remained 3-0 Cubs through the fifth after the Cubs failed to tack on after loading the bases with two down in the fifth.

Travis Wood surrendered his second hit of the game to Joe Blanton with two down in the sixth. Wood struck out Aybar swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs added to their lead in the sixth after Dioner Navarro doubled to start the inning. Joe Blanton then hit Schierholtz and put two on with no outs for Darwin Barney.

After Blanton buzzed Darwin Barney to back him away from the plate, Barney lifted Blanton’s next pitch out to left. The ball ended up in the bleachers and Barney’s fifth homer of the season gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead. Mike Scioscia decided that was enough for Blanton and went to his pen for Garrett Richards. Richards retired Wood, Borbon and Castro in order to end the sixth.

After six complete, the Cubs led 6-0.

Travis Wood stayed in to start the seventh and issued his first free pass of the night to Mike Trout. Albert Pujols stepped in and did what Pujols has always done at Wrigley Field. Pujols lined a no-doubter into the bleachers in left center. Pujols’ 14th homer of the season cut the Cubs’ lead to 6-2. Wood refocused and retired Kendrick for the first out. Josh Hamilton flied out to left center before Wood walked Mark Trumbo to extend the inning.

Alberto Callaspo pulled a double into the left field corner. Trumbo stopped at third with two down. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and brought in Matt Guerrier to face Chris Iannetta. Scioscia countered with Hank Conger and Guerrier walked him to load the bases.

Brad Hawpe hit for Richards with the bases loaded, two outs and the Cubs clinging to a 6-2 lead. Guerrier got Hawpe to chase a high fastball on a 0-2 pitch to end the inning.

Michael Kohn started the seventh and retired Rizzo on a grounder to second. With the bases empty and one down, the Angels pitched to Soriano and he made them pay.

Alfonso Soriano went deep for the second time on the night. Soriano cranked a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left and gave the Cubs a 7-2 lead. Valbuena grounded out to second and Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

After seven, the Cubs led 7-2.

Blake Parker retired all three batters he faced in the eighth. The Cubs were not able to tack on in the home half of the eighth and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 7-2.

Pedro Strop retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close out the win for Travis Wood.

Jeff Samardzija faces C.J. Wilson in the series and season finale against the Angels on Wednesday night.

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