Lake, Rusin spark Cubs to victory

PHOENIX -- On a night when the Chicago Cubs could have easily gone flat, two rookies carried them to another low-run victory.

The day started with the team losing ace Matt Garza in a trade to the Texas Rangers. Lefty Chris Rusin, who had connection problems getting to Phoenix, pitched five innings, allowing two runs.

“I was pleased,” Rusin said after winning his first game with the Cubs this season. “I really was not pleased with my fastball command. I guess I was effectively wild. I guess the thing that got me through five innings was throwing my second pitch for strikes.”

The main drama of the victory once again centered around rookie centerfielder Junior Lake. Lake entered the game having gone 5-for-12 in his first three games in the big leagues. Manager Dale Sveum had the young player leading off for the first time Monday, and the end result was a four-hit night that included two bunt singles, one RBI base hit and his first major league home run.

“He has had 16 or 17 at-bats and hasn’t had a poor one,” said a very pleased Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “Like I said when he got here, he was going to have to play himself out of the position. Obviously that isn’t happening.”

Lake was an everyday shortstop in the minor leagues until he was moved to the outfield this season.

“I have the same approach leading off or down in the lineup,” Lake said with an assist in translation from coach Franklin Font. “I am looking for fastballs. I think if you work hard something good will happen.”

For now, hitting .529 will keep Lake in the leadoff spot for the Cubs.

“He is always going 110 percent,” said Rusin, who has played all season with Lake at Triple A-Iowa. “He is just a tough out, always flying around the bases. He bunted for two hits, homered and drove in a run with a hit. It is tough to know where to play the guy, how are you going to pitch to the guy.”

Lake is the first Cub to have nine hits in his first four games since Andy Pafko in 1943.