Final in 8

Cubs 4

(5-10, 3-6 away)

Rangers 5

(8-6, 4-4 home)

    4:05 PM ET, March 12, 2008

    Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Arizona 

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    CHC 101020000 4 - -
    TEX 10111100 - 5 - -

    Rangers 5, Cubs 4

    Associated Press

    SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Jason Jennings looked good in his quest to win a rotation spot after offseason elbow surgery, Sidney Ponson pitched two hitless innings and the Texas Rangers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 on Wednesday.

    Gerald Laird hit two home runs for the Rangers, and Michael Young also went deep.

    Alfonso Soriano and Micah Hoffpauir homered for the Cubs.

    Jennings, who has a 1.17 earned run average in his first three starts, gave up two runs, one unearned, in three innings. He struck out four and walked one. Jennings' fastball is only reaching the mid-80s mph, but he anticipates that his velocity will increase.

    "I'm trying to keep my eyes off of that right now because I'm just six months out of surgery," Jennings said. "I wasn't able to do my normal offseason routine. It's been a shock coming out here and doing something every day, throwing every day. It's a process of getting through that initial soreness, building up strength and building up endurance."

    Jennings said he thinks he is a "a week, maybe two at the most" behind from where he would normally be in previous springs.

    Jennings threw 63 pitches, nearly half in the first inning after an error by Edgardo Alfonzo led to an unearned run.

    The 29-year-old righty went 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA in Houston last year, His season ended in late August, when he had elbow surgery to repair a torn tendon. He was 58-56 in six seasons with the Rockies.

    "I got strikeouts on sliders," he said. "I try not to look at results, but obviously every time you go out there you want to try to get guys out and pitch well."

    Ponson, who was signed Sunday to a minor league contract, picked up the win in his Rangers debut. He got five ground ball outs and struck out Soriano in two innings.

    "I'm happy with it," Ponson said. "I wanted to throw more innings than that, but I haven't thrown in a long time."

    Ponson, a 31-year-old right-hander, was 2-5 with a 6.93 ERA in seven starts last season with Minnesota, which released him in May.

    "When he was with the Orioles, everybody had a lot of high expectations on him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He came in ready to go. Hopefully, he continues to be like that. This was certainly quick and crisp."

    Rangers left-hander Eddie Guardado hurt his leg while pitching to Daryle Ward in the fifth and was taken to the trainer's room. The preliminary prognosis was a strained left knee tendon, but it is not considered serious.

    Ted Lilly gave up three runs and seven hits in four innings, while striking out three and walking none.

    "Overall, I thought I was pretty good," Lilly said. "I'd like to get more innings next time, get around 80 pitches.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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