CHICAGO (AP) -- Be patient, the Chicago Cubs have said all year,
the runs will come. Instead of the usual summer swoon, there will
be a surge.
Looks as if they might be right. And with perfect timing, no
less. Pinch-hitter Chris Stynes sparked a five-run rally in the sixth
inning with a two-run single, and Sammy Sosa drove in two more with
a broken-bat double as the Cubs beat the Chicago White Sox 7-3 on Saturday. It was the Cubs' second straight win over the South Siders, and
gave them city bragging rights for two weeks, when the teams meet
again at Comiskey Park. "We've just got to continue to scrap and find a way to win,''
said Darren Lewis, whose two-run double keyed another rally in the
fifth. "If we can be consistent and do that, we'll get ourselves
back in this race.'' Jon Lieber (5-4) scattered three runs and seven hits over six
innings for his second win in a row after going seven starts
without a victory. Mark Buehrle, pitching on the road for the first time in five
weeks, gave up six runs -- four earned -- and seven hits in 5 1-3
innings. Buehrle (9-5) also walked a season-high four. "I didn't have my changeup, and they were sitting on my cutter
a little bit,'' Buehrle said. "I'd rather give up a line-shot line
drive than a couple of the bloops I gave up today.'' Despite signing Moises Alou in the offseason and having Fred
McGriff for a whole year, the Cubs have been horrid offensively.
They're hitting a major league-worst .237, and they're also among
the worst in RBI and runs scored. Sosa is the only position player batting over .300. The Cubs are showing signs of coming around, though. Alou went
2-for-4, boosting his average to .223. McGriff has 43 RBI. Todd
Hundley had another solid day, going 1-for-3 with a walk. More importantly, the Cubs got runs when they had to, something
they haven't managed all year. And it wasn't just Sosa coming
through. "Everybody has to contribute,'' Alou said. "Early in the year,
it was Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. Sammy's been doing it all year. It's
nice to see a couple of the other guys with base hits, RBI and a
clutch hit.'' With the Cubs trailing 3-2, Alou led off the sixth with a double
to left-center and went to third on Hundley's single. White Sox
third baseman Jose Valentin then made a costly gaffe. Alex Gonzalez hit a chopper down the third-base line that
Valentin fielded behind the bag. Alou was already scrambling to get
back to third, but Valentin hesitated and Alou beat him to the bag. "Jose thought maybe he had a chance. He felt he had a shot to
get him,'' White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. Gonzalez reached on the fielder's choice, loading the bases. One out later, Cubs manager Don Baylor sent Stynes up to hit for
Lieber. Stynes made it 4-for-4 lifetime against Buehrle with a
two-run single. "You never really feel comfortable pinch-hitting,'' Stynes
said. "You go up there, battle and hope something good happens.'' The Cubs added another run when first baseman Paul Konerko
bobbled pinch-hitter Corey Patterson's grounder for an error,
giving the North Siders a 5-3 lead. And they weren't done yet. After Mark Bellhorn struck out, Sosa
had the most impressive hit of the day. His bat broke as he
connected with the ball, leaving him holding only a few inches of
the handle. The ball still carried to the visitor's bullpen in right and
Sosa legged out a two-run double to make it 7-3. Cubs fans, who
spent most of the afternoon exchanging derogatory cheers with White
Sox fans, cheered as if it was the end of the game. "I always said we had unbelievable talent, a great team,'' Sosa
said. "Everybody is starting to pick it up at the right time.'' Though Buehrle didn't have his best day on the mound, he did
spark a rally in the fifth inning with his first major league hit.
Getting just the tip of his bat on the ball, Buehrle poked a
two-out single to left. Ray Durham singled, and Valentin followed with a double off the
wall in right to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead. The Cubs didn't waste much time catching up to their neighbors.
Lewis, given a rare start, hit a two-run double to left. "You always want to hold the opposing team down after you
score,'' Buehrle said. "And I didn't do that twice.''
The Cubs won the first two games of a series for only the
third time this season. ... Cubs 2B Delino DeShields was ejected in
the eighth after arguing balls and strikes. ... The Cubs' seven
runs was the most support Lieber's gotten this season.