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ARI@CHC: Soriano goes perfect 4-for-4 with five RBIs

CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano knew four days of rest at the All-Star break would freshen his legs and clear his head after starting July with only five hits in seven games.

An extra 3-hour, 40-minute rain delay before Friday's series opener against the D-backs gave the left fielder even more time to put the past behind.

The portion of the 36,878 fans who braved the storms at Wrigley Field watched Soriano go 4-for-4 with two home runs and four extra-base hits in an 8-1 thrashing of Arizona.

"The last month and a half, two months, my legs are feeling good," Soriano said. "That's what I want. If my legs are feeling good, I can play my game comfortably."

Soriano hit a solo home run to left field, onto Waveland Avenue, in the fourth inning and added a three-run shot an inning later. He scored after a double in the second inning and knocked in a run with a ground-rule double in the seventh, tying a career-high with five RBIs. The last time Soriano knocked in five runs in a game was Sept. 6, 2008, against the Reds.

Soriano's four hits were his most this season. He hadn't had three hits in a game since June 4.

"Those four days, I cleared my mind and my body, too," Soriano said. "The game that I had today, I hope I have a couple more like that and help the team to win."

Soriano recorded his 30th career multi-home run game, passing Mark Grace for sole possession of 13th place in franchise history with 149 home runs with the Cubs. 

Manager Dale Sveum joked that he might give Soriano another four days off if he'd respond the same way, helping the Cubs earn their 10th win in their last 14 games.

"To come back and tie his career high in RBIs, that was huge coming out of the break," Sveum said. "For him to get hot, it would be huge to keep this thing going."

It appeared, initially, the nearly four-hour delay might have fazed starter Paul Maholm, who put runners on the corners to begin the game. Maholm forced a double-play groundout by Justin Upton and held the D-backs scoreless the next six innings to earn his third straight victory and first career win against Arizona.

Maholm (7-6) is 3-0 in four appearances since June 29, allowing just two runs in 22 1/3 innings in that span. The defense helped its starter by turning double plays in the first and second innings, extending the Cubs' streak of games with at least one double play to eight.

"I made some good pitches, got the ground balls or easier pop-ups and the defense made some great plays," Maholm said. "For me, it's getting ahead, keeping the ball down and mixing speeds and not trying to do a whole lot."

Soriano scored on a wild pitch in the second inning to tie the game at 1 and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with his fourth-inning blast.

Soriano, who had no home runs through the first 30 games of the year, now has 17 in his last 50 games since May 15. Both of Soriano's home runs Friday came against D-backs starter Ian Kennedy.

"Right-down-the-middle fastball for the home run and then the second home run was down and in," Kennedy said. "He usually likes it down. The execution was terrible."

Rain continued off and on throughout the day, but didn't seem to faze Maholm, Soriano or Anthony Rizzo, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and has hit safely in 11 of 13 games since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on June 26.

"With Rizzo coming, we have more balance in the lineup," Soriano said. "The starting rotation's pitching better. The bullpen is getting better, too. We're playing much better now and hopefully we can turn it around the second half."

The Cubs scored runs in five of the first seven innings. Manuel Corpas held the 8-1 lead by tossing a perfect eighth inning and Shawn Camp allowed just one hit in the ninth to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 12 1/3 frames.

"Obviously, the first two months we didn't play very well," Maholm said. "But over the last six, seven weeks, I think we've kept battling, kept expecting to win and now it's paying off. We're having fun."

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