Sports

Soriano's 3 homers spark Chicago

CINCINNATI — Something about September gets Alfonso Soriano going.

Soriano homered three times at the top of Chicago's retooled batting order, and the first-place Cubs emerged from their longest losing streak of the season by keeping their composure and beating the Cincinnati Reds 14-9 on Saturday night to end a six-game slide.

Soriano was the Cubs' Mr. September last season, leading their final surge toward the National League Central title by hitting a club-record 14 homers in the month. He's been in a slump — along with much of the lineup — this time around.

No longer.

He hit two solo homers off rookie Johnny Cueto (8-13), then connected for a three-run shot off Jared Burton, sending a two-strike pitch deep into the seats in left field.

"It's amazing," Manager Lou Piniella said. "When he hits, our team seems to really respond and do well. I hope he gets another big September because we need it."

The third three-homer game of Soriano's career got the Cubs' offense rolling. Mark DeRosa added a three-run drive and Jason Marquis (10-8) had a solo shot as Chicago piled up a season-high five homers. Derrek Lee had four hits on his 33rd birthday.

In one game, the Cubs scored as many runs as they did in the six losses combined.

"It was too much Soriano tonight," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "A couple of (pitches) were down; that's where he likes them. A couple were out over the plate. When he gets hot, he hits everything."

The Cubs pulled ahead 9-1, substituted for many of their starters, then held on. Cincinnati's Jolbert Cabrera hit his first career grand slam in the ninth off Carlos Marmol.

Sensing a need for change, Piniella shook up the lineup, benching slumping All-Star right fielder Kosuke Fukudome and center fielder Jim Edmonds. He made the right choice by leaving Soriano in the No. 1 spot even though he's been struggling as well.

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