Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 4
Maybe it's the triple-digit heat outside or just the sputtering team they are facing. Something is finally warming up the bats of the Chicago Cubs.
Especially for Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez homered twice, Carlos Silva earned his first victory in five starts and the Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 on Tuesday night to clinch their first road series in 1 1/2 months.
``Well. We've been waiting for Ramirez to heat up,'' manager Lou Piniella said, ``and today was a real nice day with the bat.''
Ramirez, hitting .178 going into the game, had his first two-home run game since Aug. 23, 2008. He has 22 multi-homer games in his career.
``It's about time I start contributing to this team,'' he said. ``... I've never been that bad in my life. I don't think I'm that kind of hitter. I think I'm a decent hitter. I've been good through the years. So hopefully I take this game and just take off.''
Kosuke Fukudome also homered in the air conditioned confines of Chase Field, where Cubs fans seemed to outnumber those rooting for the flailing home team.
The Cubs won their first road series since taking two of three at Texas May 21-23. They had lost five straight series overall. Chicago can complete just its second three-game sweep of the season with a win on Wednesday night.
The Cubs have won two in a row for the first time since June 16-17 at Oakland. That's also the last time they won a series.
Silva (9-2) allowed two runs on four hits through six innings, then left with what has been a recurring problem with his right calf.
``It's been like all year long, this problem with the leg,'' he said. ``I try to pitch through it. It's kind of hard.''
The Cubs right-hander, who failed to make the All-Star team, began the season 8-0 but lost his next two and had no decision in his last two outings. Carlos Marmol struck out five in 1 2-3 innings for his 16th save in 19 opportunities.
Kelly Johnson drove in two runs with a home run and single for the Diamondbacks, who lost their fourth in a row to fall to 1-4 since A.J. Hinch was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Kirk Gibson. Justin Upton also had two hits for Arizona.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer off starter Barry Enright (1-1) in the sixth to put Chicago up 3-1 and another two-run shot off reliever Aaron Heilman to make it 6-2 in the eighth.
The Diamondbacks got two runs, one unearned, in the eighth to cut it to 6-4, but the Cubs brought on Marmol. That put the strikeout-prone Diamondbacks against the best strikeout reliever in the game. Marmol now has 77 strikeouts in 40 2-3 innings.
Silva had not won since a 6-1 victory at Pittsburgh on June 7, even though he had allowed two runs in three of his last four starts and only three in the other.
Enright, in his second big-league start, blanked the Cubs through five innings but gave up a solo homer to Fukudome and a two-run shot to Ramirez as Chicago went up 3-1 in the sixth.
``I was kind of throwing strikes around the plate and they were pretty comfortable with me,'' Enright said. ``That was different then the first outing. That third time through the lineup they started hitting the first pitch, first pitch fastballs. Balls that were more up as I got more tired during the game.''
Fukudome, who struck out three times, knocked a 2-1 pitch over the porch in center field to tie it 1-1 leading off the sixth. Four batters later, Ramirez hit his first two-run shot and it was 3-1.
It could have been more. After Fukudome's homer, Theriot lined one past Chris Young in right-center and tried for a triple. But left fielder Gerardo Parra threw to shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew's perfect throw got to third just ahead of Theroit, who went head first into the base and was tagged out by Mark Reynolds.
``I'm going to make them make two perfect throws and if they throw me out, they throw me out,'' Theroit said. ``Looking at the replays, Parra made a great throw in and then it was another great throw from third base.''
Notes: Chicago has 15 runs in its last two games, more than it has scored in consecutive contests since May 8, and that pair against Cincinnati included a 14-2 victory. ... The Diamondbacks have struck out 50 times in the last the four games. ... The only other three-game sweep for the Cubs this season was at home against Milwaukee April 13-15. ... Johnson has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games. ... Theroit had his 25th multi-hit game of the season.