Soriano, Rizzo homer, Cubs beat Rangers 6-2
CHICAGO – As the first pitch approached, nobody was quite sure if Thursday's game at Wrigley Field would be played.
The Chicago Cubs are certainly glad it was.
Alfonso Soriano hit his first home run of the season, Anthony Rizzo also homered and the Cubs beat the Texas Rangers 6-2 on a soggy afternoon.
Despite torrential rains that caused citywide floods, the teams were able to carry on in an occasional drizzle. The Cubs and Texas were rained out Wednesday.
After watching the bullpen squander leads in his two starts against Atlanta and San Francisco, Carlos Villanueva (1-0) pitched seven innings and gave up two runs and four hits while striking out six.
"I tried to stay with my guard up just in case. You never want to drop your guard and all of a sudden have to go, 'Hey, 20 minutes, the game's starting,' and I'm just sitting at my locker not thinking about the game," Villanueva said.
"I kept hearing (the rain is) going to come at 1:35, it's going to come in the fourth, it's going to come in the fifth. And then I said, 'You know what, just don't tell me.'"
Rizzo hit a two-run homer in the third inning estimated at 475 feet. Soriano followed with a shot that gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead against Alexi Ogando (2-1). Soriano's homer accounted for his first RBI of the season.
"I feel like I found some things today and just got to build off the momentum here," Rizzo said. "It's big that Soriano hit as well today and got that big monkey off his shoulder — home run and RBI."
Welington Castillo added a career-high four hits as Chicago ended its three-game losing streak. Castillo is hitting .425 this season.
"If he can swing the bat like this all year long we've got something really special because the defense he has behind the plate is one of the best in baseball," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs' hitters backed Villanueva and the relievers got the job done.
"Personal stats ... it'll happen. What do I gain from being upset if I don't get a win?" Villanueva said. "Nobody benefits from that. This isn't a game to be selfish about."
Ogando lasted only 2 1-3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits while walking two.
Before Thursday, Ogando had been 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in eight career April starts.
The Texas right-hander said he was slipping on the mound, and had members of the grounds crew try to fix it during the Cubs' four-run third.
"On top of being out of control today, that mound didn't really help at all today," Ogando said.
Despite the result, Rangers manager Ron Washington was glad the game was played.
"Wish for better results, but I am," he said. "It's one game we don't have to play when we return."
The Cubs took the lead in the second. Nate Schierholtz doubled, Castillo singled and Luis Valbuena hit an RBI single.
Valbuena got two hits, drove in two runs and also made a diving play at third base on Elvis Andrus' grounder in the seventh.
David DeJesus led off the Cubs' third with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Starlin Castro walked, Rizzo hit his fourth homer and Soriano followed with a drive. One batter later, Ogando was replaced by Derek Lowe.
Castro drew his first two walks of the season. He extended his hitting streak to 10 with a one-out double in the sixth.
Ian Kinsler led off the Texas fourth with a home run. Chicago regained its five-run lead in the bottom half when Valbuena doubled home Castillo.
Nelson Cruz homered with two outs in the seventh for Texas, which was held to four hits and ended its six-game road trip 3-3.
Cruz and Kinsler each had two hits.
James Russell threw an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth for the Cubs. His father, Jeff, is the Rangers' all-time leader in relief appearances with 406.
Former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
NOTES: Castro has 10 hitting streaks of at least 10 games since the start of the 2011 season. Cubs RHP Matt Garza was expected to make a rehab start Friday at Single-A Kane County. But because of weather conditions, he will instead throw a 35-pitch simulated game in Milwaukee. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza then will likely throw for Double-A Tennessee. ... Jeff Samardzija is expected to start Friday for the Cubs in Milwaukee vs Marco Estrada. Yu Darvish is set to match up with Seattle's Joe Saunders. ... The teams did not announce a makeup date for Wednesday's rainout. ... Cubs reliever Hisanori Takahashi cleared waivers and will be assigned to Triple-A Iowa. Takahashi was designated for assignment on Tuesday.