Cubs 12, White Sox 3
Bryan LaHair knows a position change is imminent. He passed his first audition with flying colors.
LaHair and Alfonso Soriano homered to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 12-3 victory over the White Sox on Monday night in the opener of the crosstown, interleague series.
Making his first appearance of the season in right field, LaHair was tested early with a retreating catch to rob Gordon Beckham of extra bases in the first inning.
''I had a feeling I was going to get a ball early in the game, it always works that way,'' LaHair said. ''I got a good read, got a good jump and took a good angle.''
Manager Dale Sveum called the catch ''as key as anything.''
Highly touted first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is tearing up Pacific Coast League pitching and could be promoted soon, leaving the 29-year-old LaHair as the odd man out unless he lands in the outfield.
''After today, probably every day,'' Sveum said when asked how often LaHair will play the outfield. ''Depending on what we do at first base, I think LaHair is going be out there quite a bit with (David) DeJesus in center field against right-handed pitching.''
The big lefty also helped his cause by hitting his 13th homer of the season with one on and two outs in the third to put the Cubs up 2-0.
With winds gusting to 41 mph the Cubs had season highs of five home runs, 15 hits and 12 runs.
Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena homered and had three hits apiece for the Cubs and Geovany Soto added a solo shot in his first game back from the 15-day disabled list.
Matt Garza (3-5) allowed home runs to Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, but limited the damage to three runs over six innings to earn the win.
Zach Stewart (1-2) was tagged for six runs and nine hits, including four homers, over 5 2-3 innings.
''You get two outs and then he just couldn't get that third out. They were swinging it,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''It was a night (the ball) was carrying, and they put it on the barrel a lot.''
The Cubs exacted some revenge on the White Sox, who earned the sweep when the teams met at Wrigley Field May 18-20. The White Sox had won seven of the last eight matchups against the Cubs.
The Cubs scored 11 runs with four homers on Memorial Day against the San Diego Padres, and had 14 hits four times.
The White Sox have lost five of their last six and nine of 13 overall.
Castro added a two-run shot in the fifth, and Soriano hit a solo homer two batters later.
Soriano's 440-foot blast to straightaway center was his 13th of the year - all have come since May 15. He added an RBI single in the Cubs' six-run seventh.
His four homers and 10 RBIs are franchise records for a designated hitter.
''Not a lot of guys his age can do what he does,'' Garza said of Soriano. ''There are very few, and the few that do, they're well respected.''
Garza was referring to the rain of boos Soriano caught on the last homestand for not running out a dropped liner to third. The 36-year-old has been a lightning rod for criticism from Cubs fans in his tenure there.
''He cares so much about what he does and takes a lot of pride in his craft,'' Garza said. ''He deserves a lot more respect from the fans than he's getting.''
Stewart was roughed up in his first start of the season. Pitching in a long-relief role this season, he was called upon to give aces Chris Sale and Jake Peavy extra rest.
Stewart allowed nine hits and six runs over 5 2-3 innings. He was pulled in the sixth after allowing his fourth homer of the game to Soto, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He had been out since May 16.
Will Ohman gave up two runs in 2-3 of an inning of relief, and Nate Jones gave up four runs without retiring a batter in the seventh.
Valbuena's three-run shot capped the Cubs' big inning.
Pierzynski hit a solo homer in the fifth, his 12th of the season and Konerko hit his 13th, a two-run shot, in the sixth.
Garza gave up three runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out six and issued one walk.
Notes: The announced paid attendance was 33,215. . The Cubs placed RHP Ryan Dempster (right lat tightness) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa. . C Welington Castillo was optioned to Iowa to accommodate Soto's roster spot. . The White Sox agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with first-round draft pick Courtney Hawkins. Hawkins, the 13th overall pick, will report to Advanced Rookie League Bristol. . Chicago Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen threw out the first pitch. . The Cubs will send Travis Wood (0-3, 4.58 ERA) to the hill on Tuesday against Peavy (6-2, 2.91).