CHICAGO -- The ball jumped off Ryan Theriot's bat and in a flash, his teammates engulfed him. Finally, the Cubs had something to celebrate.
Theriot drove in Derrek Lee with a bases-loaded single with one out in the ninth, and Chicago beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak following a coaching shakeup earlier in the day.After Carlos Marmol (2-1) escaped a jam in the top of the ninth, the Cubs pulled it out in the bottom half and avoided a three-game sweep."We're trying to tell ourselves to stay positive," Lee said. "We're still right there. That's all that matters."Lee started the winning rally with a one-out single off Jesse Crain (2-3) and moved to third on a base hit by Geovany Soto, barely beating the throw.After Soto took second, the Twins then intentionally walked Mike Fontenot to bring up Theriot, who lined a single past second baseman Nick Punto and then got mobbed by his teammates. Yet, the key play in his mind wasn't necessarily the winning hit. It was Lee taking third."What an amazing baserunning play he made," Theriot said.Clearly, the Cubs needed this.General manager Jim Hendry fired hitting coach Gerald Perry and replaced him with Von Joshua before the game, hoping to shake up a lineup that has been in a season-long slump. Things were particularly bad of late, with the Cubs scoring one run or less in three of the previous four games.Chicago had little luck against Scott Baker but another solid start by Ted Lilly kept the Twins in check. Neither figured in the decision. Both pitchers allowed two runs and did not walk a batter.Baker gave up just five hits and struck out five in seven innings."We should feel pretty good," he said. "We had a chance to sweep the series."Lilly had a big hand in preventing that despite allowing nine hits. He left to cheers with two out in the eighth and the game tied at 2 with runners on first and second. Marmol came in and retired Carlos Gomez, who had homered earlier, on a foul pop to end the threat and escaped trouble in the ninth.Marmol walked pinch hitter Brian Buscher and Matt Tolbert with one out. That set the stage for Joe Mauer, who brought a .408 average into the game and already had three hits. This time, he popped out to Theriot, who barely avoided a collision with Alfonso Soriano in shallow left, and Justin Morneau grounded out."He's going to be a little wild now and then, but I've never seen him have any hint of laying down or backing off," Lilly said.Crain couldn't escape in the bottom half, and the latest meltdown left his ERA at a whopping 8.15."You try to find the right situation to put him in ballgames, but when you get to this point there is no right situation," manager Ron Gardenhire said.The slumping Soto had three hits for the Cubs. Theriot and Lee, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, had two apiece, but the late dramatics aside, it was a rather quiet afternoon at the plate for the Cubs.With a .246 team average entering the game, Hendry decided to make a change. So he called on Joshua, the hitting coach at Triple-A Iowa. As for Perry?"Whoever gets him as hitting coach is really lucky," Lee said.
Twins 3B Joe Crede was scratched from the lineup because of a stiff lower back. ... OF Michael Cuddyer flew home Sunday morning to have his right index finger examined by a specialist and might go on the disabled list, manager Ron Gardenhire said. Cuddyer, who missed four games after spraining a ligament May 31, aggravated the condition Friday and did not play Saturday. "I can't see Cuddy bouncing back unless we get a miracle," Gardenhire said. ... The Twins are also without OF Denard Span, who has an inner ear infection and has been experiencing dizziness. He will see a thyroid specialist Tuesday, Gardenhire said. Span is currently on medication for an inner ear infection. ... Chicago had lost six straight interleague games. ... Joshua is expected to join the Cubs on Tuesday.