Cubs snap 8-game skid on Soriano homer
Two-run blast in 8th beats Reds 5-3; Volstad's winless streak at 22
As far as the rebuilding process went, it was one small step for the Cubs and one giant leap of faith for Cubs fans.
The Cubs wound up with a 5-3 victory on Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer in the eighth, ending their eight-game losing streak.
Soriano joined Andre Dawson as the only Cubs to hit 20 or more home runs in their first six seasons on the North Side, and also became the third active hitter with 20 or more in 11 consecutive seasons, joining Albert Pjuols and David Oritiz.
"I never see myself as a home run hitter," Soriano said. "But I have to be proud of myself."
Soriano survived trade rumors, and said he has to set a good example for the kids now.
Manager Dale Sveum said: "Not too many people hit 20 home runs 11 consecutive years. I'm just glad he did it with us. Those kind of guys. They've always hit. That's what they're born to do."
While Sveum was happy for Soriano, he was upset with the usually mild-mannered Clevenger for getting tossed during a heated arguement with umpire Jeff Nelson in the fifth.
"The first pitch he obviously wasn't happy with," Sveum said. "But he's got to have a little more composure than that when he's a catcher. You can't be getting thrown out of games like that for situations like that."
The game got off to an ominous note when Volstad served up a solo home run to Zack Cozart leading off the first. The Reds added another run in the inning before Volstad settled down, allowing three runs on six hits in a six-inning stint.
Trailing 3-1 in the sixth, the Cubs tied it on Starlin Castro's two-run double off Mike Leake. But with runners on first and third and two out, Jackson grounded to first to end the inning.
Volstad was coming off his best outing as a Cub, but the winless streak has been weighing on him all season. His last victory came on July 10, 2011, against the Astros, when he pitched for the Marlins.
"I don't know if that's on his mind," Sveum said beforehand. "It probably is. I don't think that can go away. The fact of the matter is he doesn't have control of how many runs we score either. He just goes out and pitches and does his job."
While trying to get Volstad on track, Sveum also is hoping to give Jackson his best chance of succeeding as he starts out his big league career.
After a successful first game Sunday in Los Angeles, Jackson found himself in the mother of all ruts, striking out eight times with a walk in nine plate appearances from the end of Sunday through Tuesday.
Sveum gave Jackson the day off Wednesday in San Diego, hoping he could clear his head before his Wrigley Field debut Thursday. He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout through eight innings.
"Rest is always nice for the body, but not always best for an everyday player," Jackson said. "You always want to be in there. It was good for me physically. I'd played about 20 games straight with the minor league schedule, and that whirlwind of coming to L.A. and San Diego beat me up a little bit, but in a great way. (Sunday) was a little refresher, and I'm right back there today."
Jackson was dropped from the top of the order to the No. 7 spot against Leake, with Darwin Barney back in the No. 2 hole. He went 0-for-3 with one strikeout.
Jackson understands he's going to be under the microscope, just as Anthony Rizzo was when he was called up by the Padres last year and by the Cubs in June.
"It's going to be kind of a work in progress," Jackson said. "Fortunately, I'm really comfortable with swinging at the plate and I have the skills to be able to work on a plan and hopefully improve as time goes on."