PHOENIX (AP) — Aaron Hill was held out of the starting lineup the past two games, a slump at the plate being the main reason for his temporary benching.
The time off must have helped the second baseman, who drove in two runs with a homer and a double in the Diamondbacks’ 3-1 victory over the Cubs on Thursday night.
“I didn’t expect two days in a row,” Hill said of manager Kirk Gibson’s decision to rest him. “I’m not going to fight him. He was going to give me two days, and that’s fine.
“You still do your work, and hopefully it works out the next day whenever you’re in there,” Hill added. “He, jokingly, he gave me the ball (after the game) and said he’s going to give me two days off.”
The game took a back seat to the impending trade of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who was taken out of the original lineup because a deal with the Yankees was being finalized Thursday. Soriano, who is batting .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs in his seventh season with the Cubs, had yet to be dealt by the conclusion of the game, though he missed his second straight contest while the club continued to work out the deal.
Soriano was scheduled for a red-eye flight to New York, however, and said goodbye to his teammates in the visiting clubhouse after the game. He spoke with his agent and was told he could go to New York and wait for the trade to be made official there.
“I don’t know what the Cubs get, but I’m happy, and think they are happy, too,” Soriano said. “They are getting something back and I am happy going back to New York, where I started my career.
“The thing that was more difficult for me was leaving my teammates, my family.”
Hill’s first-inning double into the left-field corner plated Adam Eaton from first base with the Diamondbacks’ first run. He hit his fifth home run of the season in the fifth, leading off the inning with a blast to left field. Hill entered the game in a 4-for-31 slump over his previous eight contests.
Wade Miley (7-8) worked 7 2/3 innings and didn’t give up a run until the seventh. He allowed only five hits and struck out four despite being hit in the back of his right knee with a batted ball in the third inning.
“You got adrenaline. You don’t really feel it too much out there,” Miley said. “I was just trying to go after guys and keep us in the ballgame.”
Miley forced two broken bats in his last inning. He left to a standing ovation with a runner on third base in the top of the eighth.
“We needed that,” Gibson said. “Helped us rest the bullpen.”
Back-to-back ground-rule doubles by Wil Nieves and Cliff Pennington in the fourth gave Arizona a 2-0 lead. Pennington’s fly ball down the left-field line was just out of the reach of a diving Cole Gillespie, Soriano’s replacement in left field.
Without Soriano, the Cubs’ lineup lacked punch. Chicago scored its only run when Wellington Castillo doubled in Gillespie in the seventh.
“You just don’t fill that void,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Soriano’s absence. “I know it impacted a lot of people on that field.”
Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado was shaken up when he slid headfirst into second base on a hustle double. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s leg jostled Prado’s head as Castro came down from midair. Prado remained in the game.
Brad Ziegler, who only since the All-Star break has been the Diamondbacks’ regular closer, picked up his fifth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. He worked around a ground-rule double for Nate Schierholtz after a fan reached over the yellow line above the center-field fence and caught the ball. Fan interference was called, and the Cubs couldn’t push across any runs.
“You’ve got to win close games, too,” Gibson said. “It’s good when your bullpen comes in and does the job.”
Carlos Villanueva (2-7) took the loss, going five innings and allowing three runs and six hits.
NOTES: Diamondbacks C Miguel Montero missed his third straight game, but medical tests revealed only an inflammation in his lower back and nothing more serious. He’s day-to-day. … Ziegler has held opponents scoreless in 11 straight home games since May 27 and is 3-0 with four saves. … Cubs OF Junior Lake has 15 hits through his first seven games as a major leaguer after an infield hit in the sixth. That is the most by any Cubs player in that amount of games of a debut since at least 1916.