CHICAGO – The Cubs’ youthful energy is rubbing off on Alfonso Soriano.
The 37-year-old outfielder hit two of the Cubs’ season-high five home runs, and Travis Wood earned his first win in nearly six weeks in the Cubs’ 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“We have so much talent in this clubhouse,” Soriano said. “It’s a long season and they have to believe in themselves because they have the talent.”
Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney also homered for the Cubs in the interleague game, their fourth straight win.
“Obviously a lot of power – the Sori show continues,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Barney’s home run was huge, and Castro put a great swing on that ball and hammered it as well.”
It’s Soriano who seems rejuvenated while playing with so many youngsters. He is hitting .400 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs in his past 11 games.
“Thirty-seven years old, to do what he’s doing again, and carrying a ballclub at a time when we really needed it offensively with the way our guys have been pitching, is tremendous,” Sveum said. “It’s like he’s a rookie out there.”
Wood (6-6) allowed four hits over 6 2/3 innings, with two walks and five strikeouts, to earn his first victory since May 30.
Wood, who was named to the NL All-Star team, retired 14 straight Angels from the start of the second inning until allowing a two-out single in the sixth. He gave up Albert Pujols’ two-run homer in the seventh and left with two runners on and two out.
“It’s a very stout lineup,” Wood said of the Angels. “They’re pretty solid through and through. For us to go out there and have the game that we did is pretty outstanding.”
Joe Blanton (2-11) went five innings, giving up eight hits, including four homers, and six runs with three walks and three strikeouts. He leads the majors in losses.
Rizzo and Soriano hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning with two outs, the second time this season they’ve done it.
Castro gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead with his fifth homer in the third.
Barney’s fifth homer of the season came in the sixth after Dioner Navarro doubled and Nate Schierholtz was hit by a pitch. Blanton left trailing 6-0 after allowing Barney’s homer.
“I really didn’t have good stuff tonight,” Blanton said. “It was just one of those games. I tried to battle through, but I made too many mistakes over the plate.
“The three-run (homer by Barney) hurts the worst. You can live through solos and battle around everything else. Three-run homers kill you, but honestly, all of them.”
Soriano hit his 387th career home run and 15th of the year in the seventh off Michael Kohn.
“I’m not going to tell you how we’re trying to get him out, but Soriano is a guy if you miss some spots and sometimes if you’re hitting spots, he has the ability to hit a wide range of pitches hard like he did tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Soriano’s hot streak has coincided with the hottest days weather-wise this season.
“When it’s warm, my body is loose and I feel my hands,” he said. “I like when it’s hot.”
Pujols ended Wood’s bid for a shutout with his 14th homer of the year, a two-run shot in the seventh.
The win left the Cubs 40-48. They haven’t been better in relation to .500 since May 31 when they were 23-30.
NOTES: Sveum said right-hander Scott Baker could be back with the team in a month after an elbow injury put him on the DL. Baker had his fourth simulated game in a rehab stint Tuesday and the next step is pitching in actual games. ... Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic will likely be available without limitation for the series against St. Louis starting Thursday. Bogusevic pulled left hamstring Thursday. ... Starting catcher Welington Castillo, who missed Monday’s game with the White Sox due to dehydration, was available Tuesday but manager Dale Sveum wanted to hold him out one more day as a precaution. ... After Tuesday, Pujols has 27 home runs against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, tying with Adam Dunn for most by an active opposing player. ... Scioscia said left-hander Jason Vargas should begin throwing by the end of this week. He went on the 15-day DL June 18 with a blood clot in his left armpit. ... The Cubs hadn’t hit five home runs at Wrigley since Sept. 17, 2006. ... Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-8, 3.54) opposes Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson (8-6, 3.49) in the final game of the series Wednesday.