How it happened: The Cubs were on the verge of blowing yet another game Saturday in Seattle. But then Alfonso Soriano came to the rescue.
Hitting in the DH spot, the 37-year-old veteran crushed an 11th-inning, two-run homer to help the Cubs escape with a 5-3 win.
Before that, though, the Chicago bullpen blew its 16th game in 32 chances. Just one day after squandering a three-run lead on Friday, closer Kevin Gregg -- who came in a perfect 12-for-12 on save opportunities -- gave up a two-out single to Endy Chavez in the ninth that tied the game at three apiece.
But it was Soriano’s blast that helped save Chicago from another heartbreaking loss.
What it means: Soriano’s homer covered up another disappointing effort from the Cubs bullpen. Chicago reliever James Russell, who suffered a blown save in Friday’s loss, ran into trouble again in the eighth inning while trying to protect a one-run lead. He allowed a one-out single, but then pinch runner Jason Bay was caught stealing. Moments later, Raul Ibanez smacked a two-out double to left field. Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak followed up with a grounder to left field, but Brian Bogusevic made a great throw to nail Ibanez at home to end the inning.
It seemed like the Cubs would squeeze out with the win, but then Gregg surprisingly blew the lead for the first time all season.
Soriano had another good day at the DH spot, finishing 3-for-5 with a single, double, homer and three RBI. He went 2-for-4 with a home run on Friday. Soriano has been taking swings in the cage between at-bats, which is one advantage of not having to play in the field as a DH during interleague play.
Outside the box: The Cubs got another good start from Jeff Samardzija, who gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings of work in his first career start against Seattle. Samardzija is pitching well away from Wrigley Field as of late, allowing five runs in his past 31⅔ innings of work on the road.
Blake Parker retired the side in the 11th to pick up his first career save.
The Cubs have homered in a season-high nine straight games. Chicago also scored first for the seventh time in their past eight games after Starlin Castro lifted a solo shot to center field in the first inning. Second baseman Darwin Barney had a Web Gem-like play in the fifth inning, sliding to his right and throwing out Chavez from his knees. Barney, a reigning NL Gold Glove Award winner, is riding a 67-game errorless streak at second base dating back to Sept. 30 of last season.