PHOENIX (AP) — Chicago players were upset about the news of teammate Alfonso Soriano’s impending trade to the Yankees, and manager Dale Sveum thought that played a part in the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Soriano said goodbye to his teammates and got set to hop on a redeye to New York, where he’ll stand by until the deal is made official.
“I don’t know what the Cubs get, but I’m happy and think they are happy, too,” said Soriano, who spent almost seven full seasons with the Cubs. “They are getting something back and I am happy going back to New York, where I started my career.
“The thing that was more difficult for me was leaving my teammates, my family,” Soriano added. “It’s baseball and you have to do what is best for the team and me. I have been traded before and I know what happens. Now I have to keep moving and do my job in New York.”
Sveum said filling the void left by Soriano will be difficult, and compared him to a former Milwaukee Brewers teammate, Hall of Famer Robin Yount.
“He cares to win, prepares every day, prepares to make himself a better player,” Sveum said. “Robin is the only other guy that I have been around that did the same thing every single day.”
The Cubs sent out a lineup Thursday lacking offensive punch, and it showed in their struggle against Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley and the bullpen.
Chicago scored its only run when Wellington Castillo doubled in Cole Gillespie, Soriano’s replacement in left field, in the seventh inning.
The Diamondbacks took the early lead when Aaron Hill’s first-inning double into the left-field corner plated Adam Eaton from first base. Hill hit his fifth home run of the season in the fifth, leading off the inning with a blast to left field.
Hill entered the game in a 4-for-31 slump over his previous eight games.
Miley (7-8) worked 7 2-3 innings and didn’t give up a run until the seventh. He allowed only five hits and struck out four despite being hit in his right knee with a batted ball in the third inning.
“You got adrenaline. You don’t really feel it too much out there,” Miley said. “I was just trying to go after guys and keep us in the ball game.”
Miley forced two broken bats in his last inning. He left to a standing ovation with a runner on third base in the top of the eighth.
Back-to-back, ground-rule doubles by Wil Nieves and Cliff Pennington gave Arizona a 2-0 lead. Pennington’s hit was just out of the reach of Gillespie.
Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado was shaken up when he slid headfirst into second base on a hustle double. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s leg jostled Prado’s head as Castro came down from midair.
Prado remained in the game.
Brad Ziegler, who only since the All-Star break has been the Diamondbacks’ regular closer, picked up his fifth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. But that inning included a ground-rule double for Nate Schierholtz after a fan reached over the yellow line above center field and caught the ball.
Fan interference was called, and the Cubs couldn’t push across any runs.
Carlos Villanueva (2-7) took the loss after lasting five innings and allowing three runs and six hits.
“I had a rough first inning with the pitch count,” said Villanueva, who also spoke of Soriano’s departure.
“You are impacted from a personal standpoint because he is a guy that has been here for a number of years and everyone loves him here,” Villanueva said. “A lot of the guys got very emotional and with a good reason.
“Hopefully he is going to get a chance to win a championship.”
NOTES: Diamondbacks C Miguel Montero missed his third straight game, but medical tests revealed only an inflammation in his lower back and nothing more serious. He’s day-to-day. … Ziegler has held opponents scoreless in 11 straight home games since May 27 and is 3-0 with four saves. … Eaton ran through the stop sign from third base coach Matt Williams when he scored. “It wasn’t a very smart play but we got away with one there,” Gibson said. … Cubs OF Junior Lake has 15 hits through his first seven games as a major leaguer after an infield hit in the sixth. That hit total is the most by any Cubs player in that amount of games of a debut since at least 1916.
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