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Soto, Fukudome help Cubs wake up bats

Soto, Fukudome help Cubs wake up bats

PHOENIX -- Newton's third law of physics states that when two forces push against each other, there's an equal and opposite reaction. But on Monday at Chase Field, something had to give as two equally struggling clubs met in the opener of a three-game series.

In this one, the Cubs prevailed over the D-backs, 9-4, pushing with enough offense and just enough pitching to win for only the second time in their past six games. For the D-backs, it was their third loss in a row and third out of the four games they've played since Kirk Gibson replaced A.J. Hinch as manager on Friday.

The nine runs were the most the Cubs (36-47) have scored this month and the most since an 8-6 victory over the rival White Sox on June 27 at U.S. Cellular Field. The most recent time they scored as many as nine times against a National League foe was in a 9-4 win at Milwaukee on June 9.

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"This was a good game for us offensively," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We put some runs on the board. We hit the ball with some power. We hit the ball with men on base. It was good to see. It was a good win for us."

This has been the depths of the Cubs' despair: Until Monday, they had lost the first game of their past 11 series dating back to a May 25 victory at home over Dodgers. They are 12-21 dating back to May 30 and haven't won back-to-back games since June 16-17 against the A's at Wrigley Field.

Though the Cubs are 28-45 against the rest of baseball, they are 8-2 against the National League West and 4-1 vs. the D-backs.

Chicago's 11-hit onslaught was led by catcher Geovany Soto, who had three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles. He came into the game 1-for-18 at Chase Field.

"We're capable of doing this every night," Soto said. "We have the plan, we have the guys and we have the talent. It's just that we have to put it together. Maybe it's a lack of confidence. Guys are trying to pump each other up and pull for each other. We saw today after [Kosuke Fukodome] hit that ball, it got us going."

Fukodome set the game's offensive tone when he opened with a homer against D-backs starter Ian Kennedy (3-7), who is 0-5 in his past eight starts. It was the first leadoff homer of the season for the Cubs, coming in the team's 83rd game.

Fukodome said he simply jumped on a 2-1 fastball.

"I was trying to get him to put the ball in play," said Kennedy, who had allowed seven runs and nine hits when he was removed with two out in the sixth inning, "but I left it up and over the plate."

Alfonso Soriano, out of the starting lineup, added a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth. It was his 14th blast of the season.

Despite Chicago pitchers issuing nine walks and allowing six hits, the Cubs got enough out of six pitchers to squeeze out of numerous jams against the D-backs, who lost their 51st game and stranded nine. Continuing a season-long pattern, the D-backs struck out 12 times in the game. Reliever Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol combined to fan the final five hitters in a row to end matters.

"You have to give some credit to the offense for being able to put ourselves into a position to do some damage," said center fielder Chris Young, the D-backs' only representative to the NL All-Star team. "Today was just one of those days where we couldn't come up with the big hit."

Tom Gorzelanny (3-5) worked the first five innings and was credited with the win despite walking six and allowing five hits -- including Adam LaRoche's 13th homer, a solo shot to lead off the fourth.

Staked to a 4-0 lead in the second, Gorzelanny seemed bent on giving it all back. But after walking the first three D-backs in the third, the left-hander worked out of a threat, allowing only a run on Miguel Montero's sacrifice fly. Mark Reynolds grounded into a double play to end the inning.

"It was one of those days when I had to battle through things," Gorzelanny said. "I was good enough today to get out of it, let those guys play some defense behind me. But you don't want to have to get out of a big jam in the third inning. I put myself in that situation, and to get out of it with only one run was good."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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