Johnson pinch hit gives Cubs 3-2 win over Cards

Reed Johnson saw only one pitch in the game, and that was all he needed to have a big impact with a little hit.Pinch hitting in the seventh inning, Johnson drove in the go-ahead with a bunt single and the Cubs got past St. Louis 3-2 Saturday, ending the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak.Johnson caught the Cardinals by surprise when he squared up on the first pitch with runners on first and third and two outs. Johnson’s bunt fell perfectly between reliever Brian Fuentes and third baseman Matt Carpenter, allowing pinch-runner Tony Campana to score.The Cubs snapped a five-game skid against St. Louis and have won nine of its last 11 overall at Wrigley Field. One day after the Cardinals homered in each of the first five innings in a 9-6 win over the Cubs, they evened the series on a hit that traveled about 40 feet.James Russell (3-0) earned the win in relief.Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances. He struck out Skip Schumaker and got Jon Jay on a groundout with pinch-runner Tyler Greene on second to end the type of game the Cubs struggled to win earlier this season.Bryan LaHair drew a leadoff walk in the seventh from rookie Joe Kelly (1-4). Campana entered the game and stole his 26th base in 29 tries, then went to third on Geovany Soto single. Two outs later, Johnson bunted for a hit.
“Campana, that’s a huge stolen base against the best throwing catcher in baseball after they were really keeping him close, ” Sveum said. “That’s a big-time stolen base in a big situation.”
Kelly gave up a two-run triple to Alfonso Soriano in the first, but limited the Cubs to three runs over a career-high 6 1/3 innings. He retired 14 straight batters at one point and struck out a career-best six. Kelly hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his nine outings this season.Both starters struggled early, then settled down — combining to strike out seven straight batters at one point.Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija’s first seven pitches eluded the strike zone and he walked the bases full on 16 pitches. He limited St. Louis to one run in the inning on an RBI grounder by Carlos Beltran.The Cubs are still 17 games under .500 for the season, but improved to 17-10 since June 25.

NOTES—Cardinals 3B David Freese was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight day after leaving Thursday’s win over the Dodgers because of cramping in his right calf. He was available for pinch-hitting duty on Saturday and manager Mike Matheny expects him to return to the lineup for Sunday’s series finale….Matt Garza reported no problems after throwing off flat ground on Saturday. He is slated to throw a bullpen session on Monday and if that goes well, he is in line to make his next start in the latter part of next week. Garza left his last outing on July 21 because of cramping. An MRI showed a small trace of fluid buildup in his right triceps…..Sveum was ejected after the seventh inning by 1B umpire Mike Winters for arguing that Starlin Castro had beaten out an infield hit with the bases loaded.

Brewers send Greinke to Angels

Starting pitcher Zack Greinke has been traded from the Brewers to the Angels, the Brewers announced Friday night. They will receive shortstop Jean Segura and two Double-A pitchers in return.Greinke, 28, is 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 123 innings pitched so far this season. He won the AL Cy Young in 2009, when he was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 242 strikeouts in 229 1/3 innings for the Royals.This should be a win-win for Greinke and the Angels. People close to the Angels said Los Angeles was one of the places Greinke preferred to be sent, reports insider Danny Knobler.Adding Greinke to the rotation gives the Angels a scary looking potential postseason stable of starters. Jered Weaver is a bona fide ace. Slotting Greinke second means that C.J. Wilson is one of the best No. 3 starters in baseball. That means Dan Haren is a four. Sure, Haren’s having an off-year, numbers wise, but he was also battling a back injury throughout much of the first half of the season. He’s capable of returning to last season’s form (16-10, 3.17) and he was very good in his first start back from the disabled list.Greinke is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. A current seven-game losing streak has pushed the Brewers to 14 games back in the NL Central. That and the fact that the Brewers and Greinke were unable to agree on a long-term extension brought about the decision to trade him.
“We greatly appreciate Zack’s contibutions to the Brewers,” said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. “He will be greatly missed on the field and in the clubhouse. We wish him nothing but the very best. We are also very excited about acquiring three good young players who are already on the 40-man roster. We look forward to them joining organization and their future contributions to the Brewers.”
The Angels were able to get Greinke without giving up either pitcher Garrett Richards or outfielder Peter Bourjos, who were considered their two biggest trading chips.Segura, 22, entered the season as a top-60 prospect in all of baseball. He spent 94 games in Double-A, hitting .294/.346/.404 with 10 doubles, five triples, seven homers and 33 stolen bases. He was promoted to the majors this past week, but has only had three plate appearances for the Angels.The Double-A pitchers are John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Hellweg, 23, is 5-10 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 119 2/3 Double-A innings this year. Pena, 23, is 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 111 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings.The Rangers were in on the Greinke sweepstakes. After having lost out, they will turn their focus to James Shields, reports Knobler. The Braves and White Sox were also after Greinke, and it’s unclear how they’ll proceed from here.

Cards homer in first five innings(into the wind)and outslug Cubs 9-6

The Cards almost had five of a kind.Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Lance Berkman started a power show by the St. Louis Cardinals, who became the first team in eight years to hit a home run in each of the first five innings and went on to beat the Cubs 9-6 Friday.Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig also connected off Travis Wood (4-6), whose five homers allowed matched the Cubs record.Molina hit a two-run homer in the second, with the rest solo shots.
“The flags were blowing in, but the ball was still carrying,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “There were just a lot of hard hit balls. “Whenever you can mix five home runs in five innings, that’s pretty impressive.”
Carpenter put St. Louis ahead 7-6 when he homered on the first pitch of the fourth, and Craig homered into the left-field bleachers in the fifth. The previous team to homer in each of the first five innings was Houston against Colorado on Oct. 2, 2004.
“All those balls were crushed,” Holliday said. “None of those were cheap home runs. If the wind was blowing out, those would have been a lot more impressive.”
Lance Lynn (13-4) tied New York’s R.A. Dickey and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez for the NL lead in wins despite allowing six runs and eight hits in five innings. Jason Motte completed four shutout innings for the Cardinals’ bullpen, getting three outs for his 23rd save in 27 chances as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games.
“The offense carried me, and the bullpen came in and did what they do,” Lynn said. “It was one of those days — a team win.”
Lynn allowed one run in 19 innings during his first three July starts, but the Cubs’ first three batters scored. Lynn also gave up three runs in the third as the Cubs rallied to tie 6-6 and ended a streak of 21 straight games in which the St. Louis starter pitched at least six innings – the club’s longest stretch since 2004.
“It was hit or miss it seems like,” said Lynn, who threw six scoreless innings in his previous start. “The time before I was able to make pitches and get out of innings with runners on. Today when they got the runner on they scored.”
Rookie Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, his sixth in 25 games since he was brought up from Triple-A Iowa.
“It’s a good feeling to be in that kind of mindset at the plate,” Rizzo said. “I just want to stick to it right now and keep going.”
Berkman’s third-inning homer gave him 1,200 career RBI and was just his second home run this season. Berkman has reached base in 37 straight games dating to last July 31, the longest streak in the majors, but he has missed 68 games this year because of lower body injuries.Holliday’s solo homer in the first landed just to the left of the camera booth in center field. He added an RBI single in the seventh and singled in the ninth, leaving him with a .434 average, eight homers and 31 RBI over his last 34 games. He’s homered five times in 12 games against the Cubs this season. Starlin Castro had three hits for the Cubs, including an RBI single in the first and a leadoff triple to center in the third.Rizzo added an RBI single in the third and scored on Alfonso Soriano’s double into the left-field corner, tying the game at 6-all. Rizzo’s 28 hits in July are the most among NL rookies.Wood gave up eight runs and seven hits in five innings and has allowed 22 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings since the All-Star break.
“He does have to keep the ball down,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You’re going to get away with that a little more against some other teams. This team, there’s a reason why those left-handed numbers are what they are. If you make a mistake, they don’t miss them.”
The prior Cubs starter to give up five homers in a game was Carlos Zambrano, in his final start for the Cubs last Aug. 12.The Cubs put two runners on in the eighth, bringing the potential tying run to the plate with one out, but Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto hit long flyouts off Marc Rzepczynski.
NOTES—In a pregame ceremony the Cubs honored Ron Santo, who was posthumously inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on Sunday. Santo’s No. 10 uniform number was carved into the outfield grass and his young grandson threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was received by former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood….Matt Garza won’t pitch again before Tuesday’s trade deadline after an MRI revealed a slight fluid buildup in his right triceps area….   Cardinals 3B David Freese was held out of the starting lineup after leaving Thursday’s win over the Dodgers because of a cramp in his right calf…. Matheny said Freese was available for pinch hitting….Wood walked Lynn in the fourth. The Cubs have walked pitchers a big league-high 16 times this season….St. Louis’ five homers tied a season high.

Sox bats remain hot in 8-2 pounding of Twins.

Dayan Viciedo homered and drove in four runs, and the White Sox beat Minnesota 8-2 Wednesday for a three-game sweep of the last-place Twins.Viciedo hit a two-run single in the second inning and added a two-run homer in the fourth, finishing with three hits. Alex Rios also homered for the White Sox, who have won 10 of their last 11 home games.Jake Peavy (8-7) allowed two runs – one earned – and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and two walks, helping keep the Sox at least tied with Detroit atop the AL Central.Nick Blackburn (4-6) gave up a season-high eight runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings as the Twins fell a season-worst 18 games below .500.The Sox start their road tgrip at Texas Friday night, then rematch the Twins in Minneapolis.

Dempster loses(his last as a Cub?)3-2 to Bucs

PITTSBURGH—NO SWEEP FOR YOU! Kevin Correia, in jeopardy of losing his spot in Pittsburgh’s crowded starting rotation, pitched six effective innings Wednesday and Garrett Jones hit a tiebreaking double to lead the Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Cubs.Correia (8-6) gave up just two runs and four hits in running his winning streak to a career-best five. He had four strikeouts and two walks to help Pittsburgh avoid a series sweep at home for the first time since last Sept. 9-11 against the Marlins.Garrett Jones drove in the go-ahead run with a two-double in the sixth inning and Pittsburgh received home runs from Neil Walker and Michael McKenry.Ryan Dempster (5-5) lost in what might his last start for the Northsiders(How many times have we heard THAT already?), allowing three runs and five hits with no walks and six strikeouts.The Cubs have agreed to a trade that would send Dempster to Atlanta. However, Dempster has yet to agree to the deal, and he has the veto right as a player with 10 years of major league experience and five with his current team. If he must be traded, it is his preference to be shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dempster’s ERA went up to 2.25 from 2.11. He led the major league in that category coming into the game.Anthony Rizzo homered and drove in both Cub runs.The Pirates acquired veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros on Tuesday in a trade for three minor-leaguers. Despite his winning streak, Correia is a candidate to be moved to the bullpen, along with his ERA is 4.82 over his last five starts. Wins are wins, yes, but he has not reached the seventh inning in any of those outings.Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the game that he might also consider going to a six-man rotation, at least temporarily.Relievers Jared Hughes, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan followed Correia with one scoreless inning each. Hanrahan recorded his 29th save.Pittsburgh entered the day leading the National League wild-card standings, and was 2 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central.The Pirates pulled ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Jones lined a two-out double to right field to score Alex Presley. With one out, Presley singled and then moved to third on Andrew McCutchen’s two-out single.Both teams hit solo home runs in the first. Rizzo connected for his fifth with two outs and Walker countered with his ninth in the bottom half of the inning.The Cubs went back ahead in the fourth as Rizzo singled in David DeJesus, who had doubled, with two outs. The umpires upheld their ruling on DeJesus’ double after a video review showed a fan had touched the ball before it went over the center-field fence.Pittsburgh tied the score at 2-2 when McKenry hit a two-out solo homer, his eighth, off the left-field foul pole. Dempster retired 13 batters in a row between the home runs by Walker and McKenry.

NOTES—Alfonso Soriano received the day off after going 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBIs in the first two games of the series. … Rodriguez is expected to join the Pirates on Thursday in Houston when they open a four-game series against the Astros. Rodriguez pitched Monday night against Cincinnati, so the earliest he would likely be able to pitch is Saturday. … A.J. Burnett (11-3, 3.59) is scheduled to start for the Pirates on Thursday night against LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-2, 4.03). … The Cubs are off Thursday before opening a three-game series Friday against St. Louis.Travis Wood (4-5, 4.33) is the probable starter for the Cubs and will face red hot Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.10).

Sox rally past Twins as Dunn hits #30

Adam Dunn tied the game with his major league-leading 30th homer and Dayan Viciedo hit a bases-loaded single to cap a four-run seventh Tuesday night as the White Sox rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins 11-4.The victory allowed the White Sox to move into a tie for the AL Central lead with Detroit, which lost at Cleveland.Dunn hit a two-run homer off lefty reliever Tyler Robertson to make it 4-4. Casey Fien (1-1) relieved and gave up a single to Paul Konerko, a double to Alex Rios and an intentional walk to Alexei Ramirez before Viciedo followed with his go-ahead two-run single.Dunn added a two-run double and Ramirez had a two-run homer in a five-run eighth to put the victory away.Josh Willingham homered twice for the Twins, his 24th and 25th of the season. Konerko was 4-for-4 for the White Sox with his 16th homer of the season.Nate Jones (4-0), who relieved Chicago starter Jose Quintana in the seventh, got the win.Willingham’s three-run homer following singles by Denard Span and Joe Mauer put the Twins ahead 4-2 in the sixth against Quintana. Willingham also had a solo shot in the fourth.De Vries made his major league debut against the White Sox on May 24 when he gave up six hits and six runs — three earned — in five innings. He was much more effective this time, giving up an unearned run in the first and yielding a solo homer to Konerko in the fifth during his six-inning stint.Konerko’s two-out high fly just cleared the wall in left field and put the home team ahead 2-1. The Sox got the unearned run in the first on a two-out throwing error by Twins’ shortstop Brian Dozier that followed a single by Dunn and double by Konerko.Willingham’s line drive homer to center in the fourth tied the game. Quintana allowed eight hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

NOTES—Umpires conferred and reversed a call in the seventh just before Dunn’s homer. Alejandro De Aza hit a sinking liner to right fielder Darin Mastroianni that was initially ruled a hit. But after an umps’ conference it was changed to a catch, even though a replay appeared to show the ball hitting the ground right before Mastroianni got his glove under it. … Willingham now has 12 career multi-homer games, including two this month. … A.J. Pierzynski sat out the game with a mild strain of his right oblique, an injury he got swinging the bat Monday night. … Justin Morneau was back in the lineup after a paternity leave and was the DH because of a stiff neck.

Maholm beats former mates as Cubs win 5-1

PITTSBURGH—All the trade speculation concerning Chicago Cubs pitchers seems to center around Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.Multiple reports say the Cubs have already agreed to trades for Dempster with both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers and are awaiting his approval as he has the right to veto any deal. Many clubs have reportedly also expressed interest in Garza.However, Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm might also be becoming attractive to contenders as he has been one of the top pitchers in the major leagues in recent weeks.Maholm threw eight strong innings Tuesday night to win his fifth straight start and lead the Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1.Moments after the final out, the contending Pirates announced they had acquired pitcher Wandy Rodriguez in a trade with Houston. The Pirates had reportedly been interesting in reacquiring Maholm,who gave up one run and four hits in handing the Pittsburgh its first back-to-back home losses since May 22-23. He struck out seven and walked one.

“I’ve made more than a few starts here and I enjoy pitching here,” Maholm said of PNC Park. “Obviously, it’s a pitcher-friendly park and if you make your pitches, it’s going to work out well for a ground ball guy. I thought I did well and executed my pitches and it always help to get good defense and some runs to work with.”

Maholm has allowed just four earned runs in 38 1/3 innings during his winning streak for an 0.94 ERA in that span. He spent his first seven seasons with the Pirates before signing with the Cubs as a free agent last winter.

“He’s been great,” Dale Sveum said. “He’s working in all four pitches and throwing them for strikes. He’s not giving in to the other team. He’s not doing anything he shouldn’t be doing. He’s well prepared and is executing his game plan. It’s been fun to watch.”

With a week to go until the July 31 deadline for making trades without securing waivers on players, Maholm says he is not paying much attention to rumors.

“I know there are some [rumors] out there but I signed to pitch with the Cubs and I’m not thinking about other teams,” Maholm said. “I like the team I’m with. I’ve enjoyed playing in Chicago this season. I guess we’ll see what happens in the next week.”

Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano each homered off James McDonald (10-4), who had his career-high five-game winning streak snapped. David DeJesus hit a tiebreaking two-run double for Chicago, which had totaled just three runs in its previous four games.DeJesus doubled to left in the fifth inning to put the Cubs ahead 3-1, the hit coming after Maholm drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Geovany Soto and Luis Valbuena, who had both also walked, scored on the double.McDonald was touched for five runs and five hits in six innings while walking three and striking out six.Castro hit his ninth homer with one out in the first inning to open the scoring.Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones answered with a solo shot in the fourth, his 14th of the season and first off a lefty since last Aug. 16 when he hit a game-ending homer off St. Louis’ Arthur Rhodes.Soriano’s two-run homer in the fifth, his 19th, pushed the Cubs’ lead to 5-1.Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation, working around a leadoff double by Neil Walker and a walk to Andrew McCutchen.The Pirates had provided McDonald with 44 runs of support in six starts during his winning streak.

NOTES—Dempster (5-4, 2.11 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday against Pittsburgh RHP Kevin Correia in the finale of the three-game series. Dempster leads the major leagues in ERA….Garza (strained right triceps) will not make his scheduled start Friday against the Cardinals and will be reevaluated that day. He was removed from his previous start last Saturday at St. Louis after pitching three scoreless innings. The Cubs are optimistic Garza will not need to be placed on the disabled list….Correia will be looking to extend his five-game winning streak, the best of his career. Correia is 6-1 in his last 10 starts since losing five straight starts from April 29-May 20.

Sox homers lead to 7-4 win over Twins to snap five game skid

Returning home after a rough road trip following the All-Star break, the White Sox treated a rare sellout crowd to a sampling of how they need to play over the final two months of the season. They turned five double plays on defense and an offense that had been struggling showed some power with three home runs on a hot Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field. That helped Gavin Floyd in his first start coming off the disabled list and gave the White Sox a 7-4 victory against the Minnesota Twins, ending a five-game losing streak.

“Like I said the offense sputtered for the last probably 10 days. We were able to get Gavin some runs early,” said Adam Dunn, who hit his majors-leading 29th home run. It was a good win. We needed it.”

The Sox lost seven of 10 on that three-city road trip and fell out of first in the AL Central to the surging Detroit Tigers. But Dunn insists it’s way too early to start looking at the scoreboard. The Sox trail the Tigers by a game.

“We’ve got two months of baseball, real meaningful baseball,” Dunn said. “The goal is to get out of this little funk we’re in now and when it matters get hot. Who knows what is going to happen?”

Paul Konerko and Alex Rios also connected off Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano. Making his first start in 16 days after being sidelined by elbow tendinitis, Floyd (8-8) wasn’t sharp but benefited from four of the double plays. He walked six, gave up six hits and three runs — two earned. Addison Reed got his 16th save in 19 chances and got some help when a leaping catch by shortstop Alexei Ramirez saved a run on Joe Mauer’s liner.

“I think that’s part of what Gavin needs to do. I think all our guys realize we can play defense,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said, pointing to the play of Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham.

“Those two in the middle did a great job of getting ground balls and getting Gavin out of some situations,” Ventura added. “If they get through or you don’t get those double plays, it’s a different kind of game.”

Floyd got out of a big jam in the first, allowing only one run after giving up a bunt single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. Josh Willingham then hit into a double play with the run scoring. Floyd allowed a run to score on a wild pitch in the second and the Twins scored again in the fifth when center fielder Alejando De Aza overthrew second base on a relay when no one was at the bag. He was charged with an error. Liriano (3-10), who pitched a no-hitter at U.S. Cellular Field on May 3, 2011, lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits — including the three homers — and a season-high seven runs in losing his third straight. Entering the game, he’d yielded only three homers in his previous 70 2/3 innings and just nine all season.

“I wasn’t throwing anything down in the zone. I was missing my spots most of the time. I didn’t have anything going for me tonight,” Liriano said. “I couldn’t locate my pitches. It was one of those nights.”

Konerko’s three-run, opposite-field blast followed a single by De Aza and a walk to Kevin Youkilis in the first. It was his first homer run since June 29 and 15th of the season.Dunn, mired in a 2-for-27 skid, hit a two-run shot to center in the third. One batter later, Rios hit a long home run — his 15th of the season — to left to make it 7-2. Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit hit his third home run in two games, a solo shot off reliever Jesse Crain in the eighth.

NOTES—Twins slugger Justin Morneau was reinstated from a paternity leave after the game and the Twins optioned Chris Parmelee to Triple-A Rochester. Morneau had been with his wife when she gave birth Saturday. … Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe, who hurt his right thumb Friday, was out of the lineup again. He was examined by a doctor and manager Ron Gardenhire said he has a bruise near a nerve and is on medication. Plouffe will be re-evaluated daily. … White Sox GM Ken Williams said his team is still in good position despite the tough road trip to begin the second half. “A lot of people didn’t think we would be in this position right now and if we just kind of look at it from that standpoint, we’re in a nice spot as we head into August here, whether it’s a game and a half up or a game and a half back,” he said. “Ultimately you’ve got to close it out anyway. Is it nice to be in first place and chased? Absolutely. But it’s our time to do a little chasing right now.” … The announced crowd of 37,788 was the Sox second sellout of the season. … Floyd has won four of his past five starts overall. He is now 6-11 in his career against the Twins.

Samardzija shuts down Pirates-Cubs win 2-0

PITTSBURGH—Jeff Samardzija knew about the reports that had his teammate and friend Ryan Dempster on the verge of being traded to the Atlanta Braves as he got ready to take the mound Monday night for the Cubs. Samardzija, however, had no problem keeping his focus, giving up one hit over eight innings, and Alfonso Soriano hit two run-scoring doubles as the Cubs cooled off the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0.

“I could give you a long list of things that [Dempster] has done to help me become a major league pitcher,” Samardzija said. “He’s been a great teammate and a great friend and we all love his veteran presence on a young pitching staff. However, trades and things are out of our control.”

Dempster was still in a Cubs uniform Monday night despite reports that the team had agreed to a trade that would send him to Atlanta. The pitcher declined comment and Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush said: “There is nothing to report.” Dempster has the right to refuse any deal. A message posted Monday on the Twitter account for Dempster’s foundation read: “THERE IS NO TRADE don’t know where this info came from!” Dempster is 5-4 with a major league-best 2.11 ERA in 15 starts, making him one of the most attractive pitchers on the market before the July 31 deadline for making trades without waivers. His contract expires after this season, and the fifth-place Cubs entered Monday 18 games below .500. Samardzija pitched like an ace on Monday, though, as the only hit he allowed was a fourth-inning infield single to Andrew McCutchen, the major leagues’ leading hitter with a .373 average. The ball ricocheted off Samardzija.

“McCutchen is really fast and your first reaction is to stop after taking a couple of steps toward the bag if you feel you have no chance,” said Samardzija in explaining why he was late to cover first base as McCutchen easily beat first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s throw. “I would have hated if had cost us a no-hitter, though. We’ll probably have (pitchers’ fielding practice) every day for a month after that.”

Samardzija (7-8) struck out five and walked one in ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak. He was pulled after throwing 99 pitches as Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to not to give the 27-year-old a shot at his first career complete game.

“I know he’s not on my Christmas list but I wasn’t letting him go back out there after sitting for 27 minutes,” Sveum said. “I couldn’t let that happen. I know I’m not on his Christmas list because of it but he’s in his first (major league) season as a starter and we’re not going to overextend him.”

Samardzija smiled when asked if he might still buy Sveum a present in December.

“He’s off my list for tonight but that’s all,” Samardzija said. “[Sveum] has been great all year. He has all our backs and I know he’s looking out for my best interests.”

Soriano provided two big one-out hits, scoring Starlin Castro both times, as the Cubs ended its 28-inning scoreless streak that stretched to the second inning of last Friday’s game at St. Louis. The Cardinal completed the sweep with two shutouts.

“It was a bad weekend for all of us, so it was nice to get going in the right direction again,” Soriano said.

McCutchen, who walked in the first inning, was the only Pirate to reach base until Josh Harrison led off the ninth inning with an infield single off closer Carlos Marmol, who retired the next three hitters for his 12th save.

“Sometimes you just get shut down,” McCutchen said. “It’s happens to the best of teams and it happens to the worst of teams,”

Soriano’s double to center in the fourth inning off Erik Bedard (5-11) came after Castro drew a leadoff walk. In the eighth, Soriano doubled to right-center off Tony Watson after Castro led off with a single. Bedard (5-11) allowed one earned run and two hits in seven innings while walking two and striking out 11.

“Boy, he got into a rhythm sometime between the second and third inning,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Bedard. “It was fun to watch him go to work, too, with the fastball-curveball-changeup combination. But the breaking ball became very effective, so a very well-pitched game by both starters, very well-pitched.”

Beside the fourth inning, the Cubs had just two baserunners against Bedard. Reed Johnson walked to lead off the game and Geovany Soto hit a two-out single in the seventh inning. Both were left stranded at first base. The Pirates lost for just the fifth time in their last 26 home games. They entered the day a half-game behind Cincinnati in the NL Central.

NOTES—Sveum said RHP Matt Garza would “probably not” make his scheduled start Friday against St. Louis. Garza left his start last Saturday at St. Louis after three innings because of cramping in his right biceps. Sveum and Garza both believe a stint on the DL stint will be avoided….Paul Maholm (8-6, 4.09) will face Pittsburgh RHP James McDonald (10-3, 2.93) on Tuesday night. Maholm, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Pirates, is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his past five games, including four starts, while McDonald is on a career-best five-game winning streak.

Hinrich officially back with Bulls-signs 2 year deal

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

DEERFIELD—Very quickly, the signing of Kirk Hinrich in Chicago became a pretty big deal.The Bulls announced Monday that they have indeed signed Hinrich, reportedly a two-year deal for around $6 million.After Derrick Rose‘s ugly knee injury in the playoffs last season coupled with the fact he could be out all the way until March, inking a quality point guard in Hinrich became paramount.

“We are pleased to be able to bring Kirk back to Chicago. His ability to play both spots in the backcourt will help us immensely this season,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman in a release. “Kirk’s tenacity and passion for the game complement our style of play, and we look forward to seeing him back in a Bulls uniform.”

For Hinrich, 31, this is his second stop in Chicago as he was drafted seventh overall by the Bulls in 2003 and played his first seven seasons there. He was traded to Washington in 2010, then to Atlanta.

“I’m very excited to be back in Chicago and to wear a Bulls uniform once again,” said Hinrich in the release. “I look forward to getting back out on the court as a Bull, and contributing to the team in any way I can.”

The Bulls will likely be in a bit of a holding pattern until Rose returns and even then, it’ll be wait-and-see to how ready he is. But Hinrich will provide them with steady play in Rose’s steed, adding a good shooting point guard that can run an offense well.Last year with the Hawks, he played in 48 games (31 starts) and averaged 6.6 points, 2.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game.