• Summary: Jason Marquis pitched a complete-game three-hitter and Alfonso Soriano led off with a homer as the Cubs beat the Pirates 1-0.
• Turning point: It didn't seem to be a turning point at the time, but Soriano's leadoff blast to left was all the offense in the game.
• Hero: Marquis improved to 5-1 with his second career shutout and fourth complete game.
• Figure this: The Cubs had a number of chances to blow open the game, but Jacque Jones left nine runners on base.
• Quotable: "I pitch to contact. Guys are going to find holes. My goal is to win ballgames, not throw no-hitters." -- Marquis, who was perfect for 5 1/3
• Elias Says: This was the first-ever 1-0 Cubs victory on a first-inning home run at Wrigley.
-- ESPN.com news services
Cubs 1, Pirates 0
CHICAGO (ESPN.com news services) -- Jason Marquis is giving the Chicago Cubs a big return on their investment.Marquis, signed to a three-year, $21 million deal in the offseason, has won five straight starts -- a stretch he calls his best ever to begin a season."My delivery is as consistent as it's ever been. I feel like I'm repeating the same delivery over and over again and that's the reason, I really believe, for the success," Marquis said Wednesday night after pitching a three-hitter to send the Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.Marquis' second career shutout and fourth complete game could not have come at a better time for the Cubs, whose bullpen was spent following a 15-inning loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night.Marquis (5-1), who signed with Chicago after he was left off the roster by the St. Louis Cardinals for the final two rounds of the playoffs last fall, retired the first 16 batters he faced Wednesday night."I knew I had a no-hitter going," he said. "I pitch to contact. Guys are going to find holes. My goal is to win ballgames, not throw no-hitters."Marquis' bid for a perfect game ended when No. 8 hitter Don Kelly slapped an opposite-field single to left with one out in the sixth. Ryan Doumit doubled with two outs in the seventh and Jose Bautista singled in the eighth."He was mixing his pitches well, getting ahead and throwing all of his pitches for strikes," Kelly said. "That makes it tough to square the ball up."Marquis walked none and struck out five. He outpitched Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny (4-2), who gave up only six hits over seven innings, including a leadoff homer to Alfonso Soriano."You never think 1-0 after the leadoff hitter hits one out of the ball park," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Jason made it stand up. You could tell he had good stuff in the middle part of the ball game. He finished in convincing fashion."It was the second straight strong effort against the Pirates for Marquis, who limited Pittsburgh to four hits over eight innings a week ago at PNC Park.Marquis, who pitched a two-hitter against Washington in 2005 while with the Cardinals for his other shutout, got several line-drive outs. First baseman Derrek Lee snared two of them, including a nice lunging grab in the hole to rob Kelly of a hit in the third.Soriano's leadoff homer extended his hitting streak to 17 games and it turned out that was all Marquis needed."It was a tough mistake," Gorzelanny said. "He's a very aggressive hitter, especially leading off. The one thing you don't want to do is give him a pitch to hit. I hung a changeup there and he did what he does."After Doumit's double to the wall in right center in the seventh, Marquis got Xavier Nady on a grounder.When Piniella asked him if he could come back out for the ninth, Marquis was ready to go. He finished with 110 pitches in the quickly played game that lasted 2 hours, 6 minutes.Marquis, who was used as pinch-hitter in Tuesday night's long game and has also been a pinch-runner this season, prides himself in his physical conditioning. And Wednesday night he was just as tough mentally."You don't want to let up, whether you're up 5-0 or 10 or more, whatever may be the point in the game," he said. "I may have thrown another pitch to that Kelly kid who got the hit, but remember it's still a 1-0 ball game and I still got to get guys out. That's the main thing."
The Cubs have joined other clubs in banning alcoholic beverages in the home clubhouse. They will also ban alcohol on home-bound charter flights because players will be driving home. The moves come in the wake of the alchohol-related death of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock. ... Marquis' last complete game came on Sept. 4, 2005, at Houston. ... Soriano now has 34 leadoff homers, tied for fifth-best in major league history with Ray Durham and Devon White. ... Soriano has also reached safely in all 25 games he's played with the Cubs. After his homer, he struck out three straight times. ... The Cubs announced they would make up a postponed game against the Astros on June 11 at Wrigley Field at 7:05 p.m. CDT. The game was called off on April 11 because of rain and snow. ... Lee's fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He has reached safely in all 31 of the Cubs game this season. ... Pirates star Jason Bay, who entered the game 13-for-27 with four homers against Marquis, was 0-for-4. ... Gorzelanny, who hails from the Chicago suburbs, pitched eight shutout innings at Wrigley Field last August, allowing just two hits.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.