CHICAGO (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano got booed and jeered during a slow start. Now he's showing again that he can carry a team.
Soriano homered in his first two at-bats, Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa went deep and the surging Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4 Friday for their seventh win in eight games.Soriano connected on the first pitch from Tom Gorzelanny for his third leadoff home run in four games. Soriano launched a three-run shot in the second inning that made it 6-0, giving him five homers this week and eight this season. He has 15 hits in his last 32 at-bats."That's where I want to be," he said. "I got a big salary. That's why they signed me. That's what they expect."Soto capped a three-run first with a solo homer, and DeRosa added one in the sixth inning. Chicago won its 10th straight overall against the Pirates, including 7-0 this year.Sean Gallagher (1-0) earned his first major league win in his second start for Chicago. He allowed one run and four hits before pitcher Carlos Zambrano pinch-hit for him in the sixth.After making eight relief appearances last season, the 22-year-old Gallagher was a late fill-in for Zambrano against Arizona on Sunday after rain delayed the start. Gallagher pitched well enough to earn another turn, and manager Lou Piniella said he'll stay in the rotation for now even though Piniella would like to add a left-hander.Kerry Wood pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 12 opportunities.Gorzelanny (3-4), from the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, pitched poorly against the Cubs for the third time this season. He gave up a career-high four homers and seven runs in six innings after getting chased in the third inning of his previous two outings against Chicago.And when asked what he'll do differently the next time he faces the Cubs, Gorzelanny quickly responded: "Let's hope I don't face them again."The Pirates had won eight of 10, but they continued to struggle against Chicago."We just never really gave ourselves a chance against a club that's playing good baseball and has a good team," manager John Russell said. "It's tough to get down that big early."Pittsburgh got three runs off reliever Bob Howry in the eighth, when Jason Bay hit a solo homer and Doug Mientkiewicz added a two-run shot. Otherwise, it was a one-sided game.Soriano was hitting .175 when he hobbled onto the disabled list last month with a strained right calf. While he recovered, fans called for Piniella to drop him from the leadoff spot and questioned the Cubs' decision to sign him to that eight-year, $136 million contract in November 2006.Soriano again shrugged off questions about his spot in the order, saying, "After the first at-bat, I can bat three or four or five in that inning."His recent burst includes a fifth-inning homer against San Diego's Randy Wolf on Monday and leadoff shots against Shawn Estes and Jake Peavy on Tuesday and Wednesday.The leadoff homer against Gorzelanny was the 47th of Soriano's career. His 20th multihomer game was his first since Sept. 22 against Pittsburgh."When he's going good he's charismatic, he's having fun, he's keeping us loose and we seem to roll from there," DeRosa said.Soriano went on a similar streak last September when he batted .320 and hit 14 homers.He's being a little more selective at the plate and keeping his hands back -- two simple but important adjustments that have restored his confidence, not to mention a batting average that is now .265."He's one of the best ballplayers in the game for a reason," DeRosa said. "When you go that bad, that just means you're going to go that good at some point. He's one of the most exciting players in the game. He's able to do things that other guys can't do. He's proven it time and time again. There wasn't a guy on the bench that didn't think he wasn't going to hit another home run."
Piniella reiterated that he expects Daryle Ward to go on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his lower back, even though he can pinch-hit. ... Soriano has led off four straight games with hits. He singled in the first on Thursday. ... Thursday's crowd of 40,537 bumped the Cubs' season attendance to 1,000,892 through 25 home games -- the quickest they've reached the million mark. ... Mientkiewicz's homer was his first since Sept. 18 against Baltimore.