Cubs
Reds
6 - 0 Final
  for this game

Soriano, Zambrano excel as Cubs move closer to division title

Sep 29, 2007 - 5:38 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- The Chicago Cubs have punched their ticket to the postseason. Now they need to work on ending a 99-year World Series title drought.

Soriano blasted a leadoff homer and threw out a runner at the plate, helping the Chicago Cubs clinch the National League Central Division for the first time since 2003 with a 6-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

Chicago's celebration had to wait until the San Diego Padres beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-3, a few hours later.

"Now we can relax for a couple days and get our lineup set for the playoffs," a champagne-drenched Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "These guys stuck together as a team. The young guys played well, the veterans started to come around and our bullpen started to gel."

Carlos Zambrano (18-13) threw seven scoreless innings and Derrek Lee hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who won just their third pennant since 1989.

"It's been a long summer. It really has," Piniella said. "We started off with Soriano in center field and that didn't work out - we should have started him in left field. He's more comfortable there."

"Zambrano was pretty sharp," Cincinnati interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He mixed his pitches well. And that Soriano, not only does he hit the home run to jumpstart them, but he has the assist. He hurt us in Chicago like that, too. They beat us, fair and square. They outhit us and outpitched us."

After being swept by the lowly Florida Marlins, Chicago needed a strong start and Soriano came through.

"I told my coaches that Florida would be a tough place to play," Piniella said. "We were used to playing in St. Louis with a big crowd where it was a little cooler, then you go to where it's really warm to a big ballpark with no one there."

Signed to an eight-year, $136 million free-agent contract last winter, Soriano blasted an 0-2 fastball from Bronson Arroyo (9-15) into the right-center field seats for his 11th leadoff homer of the season.

It was the 32nd home run of the season and 13th of September for Soriano, who set a major league record with his sixth leadoff homer of the month.

A much-maligned left fielder, Soriano helped protect a 2-0 lead in the third as he threw out rookie Joey Votto at the plate. The Reds threatened by recording three consecutive singles off Zambrano.

The third batter, Edwin Encarnacion slapped a single into left, but Soriano charged hard and threw a bullet that Jason Kendall caught up the third base line and tagged Votto as he slid by.

"In center field, I had to cover both gaps. I am more comfortable in left field," said Soriano, who registered his 19th assist, the most by a Cubs outfielder since Hank Sauer had 19 in 1951.

Soriano continued his stellar night in the fifth, as he hit a one-out double and later scored on Lee's two-run homer to left field for a 4-0 lead.

That was more than enough for Zambrano, who entered the game just 1-4 with a 6.59 ERA vs. the Reds this season. However, he had no trouble in this one, allowing just six hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The burly righthander allowed just two runners to reach scoring position as he extended his career-high win total.

"I am very happy to pitch in this game," Zambrano said. "I lost to them four times this year and in the most important game, we win. Thank God for that. I was able to throw strikes and able to make my pitches. I said, 'Whatever happens, happens.' I was hungry but I wasn't too excited. I felt calm."

"He pitched. He didn't have his really, really good stuff but he pitched," Piniella said. "We got good starting pitching, and scored early, then got it to our bullpen. That's been our formula for success this summer."

Meanwhile, Arroyo allowed four runs - three earned - six hits in six innings for Cincinnati, which has lost six straight.

Jacque Jones, who had three hits, delivered a two-run double in the eighth to make it 6-0.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 6 10 0
    CINCINNATI 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CHN - CARLOS ZAMBRANO, BOBBY HOWRY (8TH), RYAN DEMPSTER (9TH) AND
    JASON KENDALL
    CIN - BRONSON ARROYO, TODD COFFEY (7TH), MIKE STANTON
    (8TH), BRAD SALMON (8TH), MAR

    Sep 28 9:54 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JACQUE JONES SCORED ARAMIS RAMIREZ AND MARK
    DEROSA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J JONES ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 6
    CINCINNATI 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: R THERIOT (.267, 0-FOR-2, SF, RBI)

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 9:25 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY DERREK LEE (22) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 5TH OFF BRONSON ARROYO SCORED ALFONSO SORIANO.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 4, CINCINNATI 0
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: C FLOYD (.287, 0-FOR-0, BB, HBP)

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 8:19 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY RYAN THERIOT SCORED MARK DEROSA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J JONES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 2
    CINCINNATI 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: C ZAMBRANO (.256, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 7:35 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 1 1 1 0
    CINCINNATI 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: CHN - CARLOS ZAMBRANO
    CIN - BRONSON ARROYO

    DUE UP FOR CINCINNATI: N HOPPER (.334, 0 HR, 14 RBI)
    J KEPPINGER (.333, 5 HR, 32 RBI)
    J VOTTO (.333, 3 H

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 7:19 PM
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    gicenter27 Added 5 roots

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 10:36 AM
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    ike13 Added 5 roots

    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 8:55 AM
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    Cubs vs. RedsSep 28 8:55 AM