- 142 wins
- 110 wins
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cubs needed that.
They needed to have each of their 3-4-5 hitters drive in a run -- not just Alfonso Soriano -- and they needed eight shutout innings from Ryan Dempster, and they needed a win.
Dempster struck out six over eight innings and Soriano and Joe Mather each hit RBI doubles to lift the Cubs to an 8-2 Interleague victory on Sunday over the Twins. It was Chicago's second win in the last 10 games, and Dempster (2-3) has both of them.
"It was a good way for us to end a not so great road trip," Dempster said.
The right-hander gave up four hits for his second straight win after going winless in 18 consecutive starts. In his last two games, Dempster has not given up a run over 15 innings. Dempster would have tried for the complete game if the Cubs didn't have a long top of the ninth, when they added two more runs.
"He throws the ball where he wants it," Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe said. "He's got a slider that he can change speeds on -- throw a hard one with some down angle and more of a sweeping one that's a little slower. He spotted his fastball pretty well. He had it working today."
"I had good command again," Dempster said. "I was able to keep the ball off the fat part of the plate and move it around and change speeds and made a lot of good pitches. It was another nice win."
How much did the Cubs need this?
"We needed to go out feeling OK, get good self-esteem about our team," David DeJesus said. "We have a tough series ahead of us and at least we can go home feeling, 'Yes, we won a game,' and hopefully we can get that feeling again in Chicago."
How do they keep it going?
"I wish I could tell you," DeJesus said. "I wish I had the answer for that."
Soriano, who wouldn't mind if the Cubs' next Interleague series was switched to Detroit so he could DH again, delivered a two-out double in the first, driving in Reed Johnson after he singled.
Francisco Liriano (1-7) then retired 13 of the next 14 batters before Johnson walked to lead off the sixth. Johnson reached third on Starlin Castro's double and scored on DeJesus' groundout. Soriano was intentionally walked, and one out later, Castro scored on a wild pitch. Mather followed with an RBI double to make it 4-0 and chase Liriano.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Baker and an RBI single by Darwin Barney.
Despite the win, the Cubs are on a historic pace. Their only teams to lose 100 games were the 1962 and '66 Cubs, which both finished 59-103. The current team, at 20-40, has the potential to do even worse.
"Hopefully, you change the pace," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said with a laugh. "You can laugh about it, but it's definitely there. It's a reality. You don't want any kind of label like that."
Sveum has tried different lineup combinations, inserting Mather, Castro and DeJesus into the No. 3 spot, but what's missing has been a lack of run production from the 3-4-5 hitters. On the 10-game trip, they combined for 20 RBIs, and Soriano had 12 of them.
"If you can average three runs out of those three spots a game, you're going to be pretty productive throughout the season," Sveum said.
In this series, Soriano went 6-for-13 with three homers and six RBIs. No wonder he likes the DH.
"We rely on him right now," DeJesus said. "When he's going hot, he's definitely a stud to have in our lineup. We were able to get some runs the right way -- little ball, move them over type runs and then [Mather] found the line."
What Sveum isn't going to do in an attempt to motivate the players is throw chairs in the clubhouse.
"On an everyday basis, everybody wants you to snap and yell and scream, but if I had something to snap and yell and scream about -- I've already done that once -- and what are you going to do?" Sveum said. "Are you going to keep doing it? It doesn't make much sense when guys are busting their [butts] and preparing every single day.
"It's not like we're throwing balls all over the place. We just have to get better in certain areas. We know that. Shoot, we have to win some baseball games."
When did he snap?
"I've had my times," Sveum said. "You guys don't have to know about all of them."
He would only confirm his rant was a couple weeks ago.
"It didn't help, obviously," said Sveum, whose team has lost 20 of its last 25 games. "In some areas, it did."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.