Hero: Reed Johnson, who got a rare start in right field, went 3-for-5 with a triple, drove in four, and made a spectacular catch in the second inning, slamming into the right-field wall to rob former Cub Mike Fontenot of extra bases.
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.
I wish Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley would stick to telling White Sox general manager Ken Williams how to do his job.
In Thursday's Sun-Times, Cowley, a former longtime White Sox beat writer, advised Cubs fans to not get their hopes up in regards to the North Siders signing St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. He suggested that any Cubs fan who dares dream of Pujols donning a Cubs uniform in 2012 should "pick up the nearest stapler and punch it into your chest to help snap you back to reality."
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.
Hero: Darwin Barney went 3-for-4 (all singles), was hit by a pitch, and scored twice.
Hero: Ryan Dempster (1-4) had his second straight solid start, allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits while striking out four and walking none.
"I'm doing a better job of executing pitches," Dempster said. "I was able to keep the ball down, for the most part, today."
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: Finally, the Demp we know and love. Ryan Dempster, who turned 34 on Tuesday, walked the first two batters he faced on eight straight balls, but bounced back to work seven solid innings. Dempster- who lowered his ERA to 8.05 while not figuring in the decision- allowed one (earned) run on six hits while walking two and striking out five.
"To say this was the best outing of Ryan Dempster's season would be probably the understatement of the year," Len Kasper said during the WGN telecast."He was really good."
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro graces the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.
Gordon Wittenmyer, in Monday's Chicago Sun-Times, pointed out that Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome hit .383 (23-for-60) and is a .345 (101-for-293) hitter in his four seasons with the Cubs. But entering Monday's game, Fukudome was hitting just .244 (275-for-1,129) after April.
Hero: Kosuke Fukudome, who turns 34 Tuesday, had five singles in five at-bats to raise his average to .478.
Hero: A slimmer Justin Berg made his 2011 debut and set down the Dodgers in order in the seventh inning.
Hero: Starlin Castro - the best player the Cubs farm system has produced since perhaps Billy Williams - went 4-for-5 with a double and a clutch two-run single during the Cubs' five-run eighth. It was the fifth career four-hit game for Castro, who is now hitting .393, and his second four-hit effort this season. He has a major league leading 10 multi-hit games in 2011 and leads the majors with 35 hits.
Hero: Starlin Castro (3-for-4) contributed a two-run double in the fourth inning. Castro, who had his sixth three-hit game of the season, was 7-for-13 in the series with four RBI and is now hitting .418.
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.
According to the preseason prognosticators, one of the Cubs' glaring weaknesses was supposed to be the leadoff spot.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth home run of the season - a three-run shot during the Cubs' five-run first inning - and, with help from a Starlin Castro relay throw, gunned down Houston's Brett Wallace at the plate when Wallace tried to score from first on a Matt Downs double in the second inning.