Hero: Jeff Baker, who started in right field, continued his phenomeanl hitting against left-handed pitching, going 3-for-4 and driving in the Cubs' only run with a sixth inning single. Baker is 16-for-31 (.516 BA) against lefties this season. Baker's three singles came against St. Louis southpaw Jaime Garcia (5-0). He lined out to first baseman Albert Pujols against right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs in the eighth.
Hero: Starlin Castro went 4-for-4 with a triple, scored three times, and drove in three to break out of his slump and pace the Cubs' 17-hit attack. It was his third four-hit effort of the season.
Heroes: Carlos Pena (home run) Kosuke Fukudome (double) each contributed three hits and bookended a dramatic two-run ninth inning rally off Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero (2-1) to lead the Cubs (15-17), as Pat Hughes described it, "to their most gratifying victory of the season."
Cubs relievers have not allowed a run in their last 17 2/3 innings over nine games.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4) wrapped up a terrific April with a solo home run in the second inning and an RBI single in the fourth. It was the 10th homer of the season for Soriano (.258 BA, 20 RBI), who shares the major league lead in home runs with Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.
Wednesday's scheduled game between the Cubs and Colorado Rockies was postponed by rain, bringing a dismal end to a disappointing 3-5 homestand.
I understand that the alternatives are as appealing as the selection of women at closing time at the neighborhood dive, but I wish the Cubs would pull the plug on the James Russell-in-the-starting-rotation experiment.
Hero: Kosuke Fukudome went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .417.
Hero: Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a double off the right-field scoreboard to raise his average to .360. Ramirez was hitting .143 entering play on April 16, 2010.
When spring training opened last month, Cubs manager Mike Quade let it be known that there would be open competition for a large percentage of the spots on his team's Opening Day roster.
The snow has melted, the days are getting noticeably longer, and the Cubs are playing spring training games in Arizona.
The improved play the Cubs demonstrated under interim manager Mike Quade during the season's final weeks (a 24-13 record) was encouraging but it doesn't change the fact that the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster.
Hero: Casey Coleman (4-2) finished the season by winning his final three starts. The rookie right-hander allowed six hits over seven innings while striking out two and walking one as the Cubs improved to 14-14 in shutout games. Cubs starters are 13-5 with a 2.87 ERA since Sept. 10.
Hero: Casey Coleman (3-2) allowed three runs - two earned - on five hits over seven innings while striking out four and walking two. Coleman, who did not allow a hit after the third, retired the last nine and 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Heroes: Relievers Justin Berg, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, and James Russell combined to allow two hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings.
Hero: Casey Coleman (2-2) allowed three runs - all earned - on five hits in six-plus innings while striking out five and walking four. The 23-year-old right-hander survived a 31-pitch first inning in which he allowed two hits and a pair of walks, but surrendered just one run. Coleman, who was aided by a pair of double plays, exited after giving up doubles to the first two hitters in the bottom of the seventh.