Cubs squeeze out a win over Sox

Cubs squeeze out a win over White Sox

CHICAGO -- Everybody was in the right place at the right time on Saturday for the Cubs, even if it was to do something Lou Piniella doesn't likes to do.

Pinch-runner Angel Pagan scored on Ryan Theriot's suicide squeeze with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. With the win, the Cubs took a 4-1 lead in the Interleague series.

"He rolled the dice, and it worked for him," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Piniella's move.

With the game tied at 1 and one out in the Cubs' ninth against Bobby Jenks (2-3), Cliff Floyd singled and was lifted for Pagan, who reached third on pinch-hitter Daryle Ward's single. Theriot, who was in an 0-for-17 skid, fouled a pitch off, then successfully executed a suicide squeeze to score Pagan.

"We had a guy up at home plate in Theriot who could execute the bunt and we had speed at third base in Pagan, so we took a shot," Piniella said. "Theriot laid down a perfect bunt, and Pagan didn't break too soon and helped us win a baseball game."

The Cubs were concerned about a possible pitch-out on the first pitch to Theriot.

"There are two dangers when you bunt like that -- one, they pitch out and two, you pop the darn thing up," Piniella said. "I was a little concerned about the pitchout on the first pitch."

"The first pitch, I was up there aggressive and ready to hit," Theriot said. "I knew [Jenks] was going to try to get ahead of me. Once I saw [third base coach Mike Quade] not put the sign on, I went straight into hit mode at that point."

The sign changed for the second pitch of the at-bat.

"Lou has put us in situations to succeed all year," Theriot said. "He's one of the best I've ever been around at that. He gives you a chance to do it your way, then he puts you in a spot where he knows you can succeed. It's pretty comforting as a player to have a guy who does that for you."

As long as Jenks didn't throw his curve, Theriot felt he had a chance.

"Honestly, I didn't want to try to bunt his curveball," Theriot said. "He throws 100 miles an hour, but he's got one of the best curveballs I've ever seen. I was hoping it was something straight, and I got it."

Piniella is the first to admit he doesn't like to squeeze.

"I really don't like to squeeze much," the Cubs manager said. "I've said that publicly before. I'd prefer to see the hitter drive the ball.

"We've been struggling, and Theriot's been struggling some," Piniella said. "This might pick him up nice, too. There's some skill involved in laying the ball down, knowing it's a squeeze situation."

The baserunner also is key in such situations.

"I'm a basestealer, so I can time it pretty good," Pagan said. "I've been in that situation before. Even if they threw back to third base to try to pick me off, I could've reacted pretty good."

For the second straight game, Alfonso Soriano led off with a home run, much to the delight of the Cubs fans in the sellout crowd of 39,043 at U.S. Cellular Field. He launched a 1-0 pitch from starter Javier Vazquez into the right-field seats in the first for his fifth leadoff homer this season and 37th of his career.

Can he do it again on Sunday?

"It's easy to say -- it happened today, it happened yesterday," Soriano said. "I don't know if it'll happen tomorrow."

The White Sox tied the game in their half of the inning against Cubs starter Rich Hill when Scott Podsednik, activated from the disabled list before the game, singled, stole second, advanced on a groundout and scored on Jim Thome's groundout.

Hill, who was coming off his shortest outing -- three innings against San Diego -- did not get a decision, but it was a much improved effort. He gave up one run on six hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six.

"This was a big confidence builder for myself," Hill said.

And all the talk about him tipping his pitches was just that -- talk.

"We looked at the video, and didn't see anything," Hill said of his previous outing, when the Cubs were concerned the Padres knew what was coming. "That was one of those days when my fastball was flat. My aggressiveness wasn't there as it was in other outings."

Hill settled down after the Sox scored, and at one point, struck out five of six hitters. But with two outs in the White Sox sixth, the lefty walked both A.J. Pierzynski and Tadahito Iguchi, the first free passes he'd surrendered in the game. He was pulled, and Carlos Marmol got Josh Fields to ground out to end the threat.

Michael Wuertz (1-2) picked up the win in relief, while Bob Howry, subbing for injured Ryan Dempster, notched the save. Howry will fill in until Dempster is healed from a sore oblique.

"It's not like I've never done it before," said Howry, who was the White Sox closer in 1999.

The Cubs, now 8-4 in Interleague Play, have never swept the White Sox at U.S. Cellular. They'll try to do that on Sunday.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.