Marshall dominant as Cubs sweep Sox

Marshall dominant as Cubs sweep Sox

CHICAGO -- Nevermind bragging rights, or who made the right call in the bizarre eighth inning on Sunday. The key this weekend in the Cubs' three-game sweep of the crosstown Chicago White Sox was their pitching.

Sean Marshall combined with three other pitchers on a seven-hit shutout to post a 3-0 Cubs victory and complete the team's first sweep on the South Side since Interleague Play began in 1997.

"We had a very good weekend here," said Alfonso Soriano, who homered in each of the games, raising his season total to 15. "I hope we continue at home."

This is the Cubs' first series sweep since taking a three-game set against the Washington Nationals May 4-6. The Cubs finished Interleague Play at 8-4, including a 5-1 record against their crosstown rivals. Last year, the Cubs were 4-11 in Interleague games.

"It's definitely nice," said Bob Howry, who notched saves on Saturday and Sunday while subbing for Ryan Dempster. "When's the last time we won three games in a row? It seems to me like it's been quite a while. Sometimes, [with] these kind of series, everyone is up a little more because the fans are so into it. The key now is not to have a letdown when we go back to our side of town. Hopefully, we can continue on."

Actually, the Cubs won three in a row June 13-15. This weekend, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Hill and Marshall each posted solid starts, and Cubs pitchers held the White Sox to 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position for the series. That's a good sign.

"The story today was our pitching," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We came in here to the South Side and held this team to two runs in three games, and that's pretty darn good pitching."

Marshall (4-2) finished the weekend by posting his sixth quality start and won his fourth straight decision, giving up five hits and one walk over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

"I just tried to bounce back today," Marshall said. "I went back on the attack. I was a little tentative against the Rangers last week [in my last start]. I tried to get ahead and throw strikes. I wanted to keep the team in the game. Guys made great defensive plays and swung the bats when we needed to."

Soriano, who led off each of the first two games with home runs, connected with one out in the seventh off Jose Contreras (5-8), launching the first pitch into the left-field bleachers. Soriano finished the six-game road trip to Texas and U.S. Cellular Field batting .480 (12-for-25) with four homers, a double, and five RBIs.

"What you're seeing here now is the player he is," Piniella said. "He's swinging the bat and driving the ball, and he's a catalyst out of the leadoff hole, like we anticipated."

Soriano also notched an assist when he threw out Luis Terrero, who was trying to score from third on Scott Podsednik's fly ball. Soriano's throw was in time, and catcher Koyie Hill cleanly handled the ball.

"He's got such a quick release," Hill said of Soriano. "That's one of the benefits of his being an infielder."

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Aramis Ramirez doubled to lead off, his fourth hit in the series, and reached third on Cliff Floyd's single. Angel Pagan grounded out, driving in Ramirez and quieting the crowd.

It got a little crazy in the Cubs' eighth. Felix Pie was at second and Pagan at first when Mark DeRosa singled to right. The ball was relayed in, 9-3-6, but Uribe and Pagan collided at second. The Sox then tried to get Pie in a rundown between third and home, and he appeared to be out.

The rundown was unnecessary. Uribe was charged with interference on Pagan, the runners were safe and the bases loaded. When the two collided, it was a dead ball. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen didn't agree and was ejected. Hill then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

"I was trying to go by the bag, and [Uribe] was in the middle," Pagan said. "I talked to [Uribe] -- he said, 'Hey, man, you were flying.' I was just reading the ball. I went halfway, and when the [right fielder] turned his back on the ball, I knew it was going to drop."

However, the Cubs nearly botched the inning. Let Piniella explain.

"The second baserunner, which is Pagan, has to look at the baserunner ahead of him, and that's what originally caused the problem," Piniella said. "He was running with his head down, ready to go to third because he got a good read on it as it went over the right fielder's head. The only problem was our lead runner [Pie] tagged up."

DeRosa thought he had a double and had driven in a run, but instead was credited with a single.

"I'm trying to battle Hack Wilson for the RBI total in the history of the game," DeRosa said, jokingly. "As far as [the umpires'] call, it was such a bizarre play, it made sense."

It was easy to spot the Cub fans in the sellout crowd of 39,194. They were the ones who stuck around to chant "Sweep, sweep" at the end.

"I know from the fans' perspective and for bragging rights, it's nice," DeRosa said of the weekend. "But to sweep anyone in general and for us to get on a little bit of a roll is big. It just so happened it was [against] the White Sox. The thing I'm proud of is, we took on their three best pitchers and we were able to win. It speaks volumes for our pitching staff and how good they did this weekend."

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