MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - No matter how many home runs Alfonso Soriano hits, or how far he hits them, the losses keep piling up for the Chicago Cubs.
Soriano went deep twice against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night, two monstrous shots that measured a combined 871 feet, but they weren't enough in an 8-7 loss in 10 innings.
After going homerless in his first 30 games of the season, Soriano has hit 11 in his last 23 games, the most in the majors in that span. He treated spacious Target Field like a Little League park in the series opener against the Twins, but the Cubs' beleaguered pitching staff couldn't hold any of the leads he gave them.
``Today yeah, I had a good game today, but it's not enough,' Soriano said. ``We (came up) short to get the win. So, we've got to come back tomorrow and keep pushing it, have a better day and get the win.'
Those have been hard to come by for the Cubs (19-39), who are tied with the Padres for the fewest wins in the majors. They've lost 19 of their last 23 games.
Soriano said before the game that he wasn't crazy about being placed in the designated hitter role, but it didn't take him long to get comfortable with it.
He hit a 2-0 pitch from P.J. Walters in the first inning an estimated 431 feet, a rare home run to dead center at Target Field. His 350th career long ball slammed off the wall behind the center-field fence, getting thousands of Cubs fans going early.
Trailing 6-5 in the eighth and with David DeJesus on base, Soriano crushed a fastball from Glen Perkins into the third deck in left field, an estimated 440 feet from home plate.
``The day that I had today, I like it,' Soriano said. ``But I've got to do a lot of things to keep my body warm. So it's very hard to see the people play defense and I'm not there. I just tried to ride the bike, stretch and have a couple swings in the cage.'
The last time these two teams played, the Twins visited Wrigley Field in 2009 and seemingly brought the entire Twin Cities with them. Twins fans took over the old yard and Cubs fans aimed to return the favor this weekend.
Target Field was awash in Cubbie blue, even though there was no Old Style to be found. During the seventh inning stretch, the throng thundered ``root, root, root for the Cubbies!' and chanted ``Let's Go Cubs!' after Soriano's homer in the eighth.
But those fans saw a familiar ending - another gut punch for the Cubs bullpen, which entered the night with the 24th-ranked ERA in the majors. Travis Wood gave up three runs and six hits in five innings, but Randy Wells allowed two runs and James Russell served up a solo homer to Doumit in the seventh that gave Minnesota a 6-5 lead.
Shawn Camp (2-3) yielded a tying triple to Justin Morneau in the ninth. In the 10th, he issued a leadoff walk to Darin Mastroianni before Ben Revere put down a sacrifice and Jamey Carroll reached on an infield hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Josh Willingham then scorched a single down the left-field line to win the game.
``Soriano had two clutch home runs,' Camp said. ``I feel like I've been pretty consistent, but tonight just ran into a situation where I just didn't make pitches when I needed to.'
Cubs manager Dale Sveum hasn't had many chances to use a closer this season, so it's no wonder the bullpen struggled in a save situation on Friday night.
``Those are the two best guys we have,' Sveum said of Russell and Camp. ``All season long they've gotten the job done. We haven't had many opportunities for them to get the last three outs, but they've both had great seasons and one of them had to be on the mound as long as they could go anyway.'
Starlin Castro had a homer, a triple and two RBIs, and DeJesus added two hits for the Cubs.
Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe homered for the Twins (23-34), who have won eight of their last 10 games as they try to climb out of the AL Central basement.
``Winning brings confidence in everybody,' Willingham said. ``We've been winning more lately, so everybody's more confident. I don't think we ever get down or feel like we're out of a game when we get down a few runs early.'
NOTES: DeJesus showed off his arm in RF when he cut down Carroll trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth. ... Twins 1B Chris Parmelee played after being called up from Triple-A Rochester earlier Friday. He took a spill over a railing and into the camera well while trying to chase down a fly ball in foul territory in the fourth inning, but wasn't hurt. ... The Twins send LHP Scott Diamond (4-1, 1.86) to the mound on Saturday for Game 2 against RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-3, 3.13). Diamond has pitched at least six innings in five of his six starts. Samardzija has been lights out at home, but is just 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA on the road.
The Associated Press News Service
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