Geovany Soto went into Tuesday night's game trying to avoid tying a franchise record for most consecutive strikeouts by a position player after fanning eight times in Washington.
Twenty-four hours later, the rookie catcher smoked a pair of three-run homers to lead the Cubs to a 19-5 victory over Milwaukee, going from agony to ecstasy in the blink of an eye.
Ryan Dempster said.
What was the difference?
"Well, we got him out of Washington, D.C.," manager Lou Piniella theorized.
Soto's big night helped the Cubs to their biggest offensive output since a 20-1 shellacking of the Dodgers on May 5, 2001, and left them with a franchise-record 17 victories in the month of April.
"When you go 0-for-8 with eight strikeouts, it's uphill from there," Soto said. "You have to go through those bad times sometimes to just learn from it. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again whatever happened in Washington."
After losing four of their previous five games, the Cubs bounced back against a Brewers staff that looked helpless from start to finish. Starter Jeff Suppan and reliever Derrick Turnbow combined to give up 17 runs on 14 hits and five walks as the Cubs scored six runs in the first and capped it off with six more in the eighth.
The Cubs finished with 17 hits and received three RBIs apiece from Aramis Ramirez and Ronny Cedeno to go along with Soto's career-best night.
Soto has 20 RBIs in April, the most for a Cubs rookie since records began being kept in 1956. The Cubs finished the month with four players having 19 or more RBIs: Soto, Ramirez (22), Derrek Lee (23) and Mark DeRosa (19).
"We're just hitting the ball real good—everybody," Ramirez said. "Not only D-Lee and Soto, but everybody.
"You just saw guys just keep pounding the ball. Nobody wanted to make outs, no matter what the score is. I saw Reed Johnson have a great at-bat with [an 11-run] lead. He had like a seven- or eight-pitch at-bat. It's nice to see that from the guys."
Dempster was the beneficiary of the landslide, improving to 4-0 as he allowed three runs on four hits and five walks in six innings. He has allowed five or fewer hits in all six of his starts, and though he's averaging 4.8 walks per nine innings, the control issues have yet to come back to haunt him.
But the Cubs' offense was the story Wednesday night. They knocked the Brewers' pitchers around early and often.
They even got an infield double from Kosuke Fukudome in the third on a line drive off Suppan's foot that deflected past first baseman Prince Fielder. Asked if he ever had seen an infield double before, Piniella replied that he once saw Jose Tartabull hit a bunt triple past a third baseman.
Piniella asked for a good start, and by breaking the 1969 Cubs' record for most victories in April, he got what he wanted.
"If you multiply six times 17, you'll have a pretty good year," Piniella said, referring to the six months of the season.
That's 102 victories by anyone's calculation.
"Well, that's a pretty good year isn't it," he said. "I'm saying that in a kidding way, but 17 wins in the month of April is really, really nice, and it's a good way to get started."
Cubs 19, Brewers 5
Offensive explosion leads Cubs rout of Brewers
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