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Payback! Cubs Pound 18 Hits, Beat Angels 12-1

Geovany Soto hit his eighth HR of the season Sunday afternoon.
Geovany Soto hit his eighth HR of the season Sunday afternoon.

Some morning clouds on Sunday cleared by early in today's game and the sun shone brightly, with pleasant temperatures and light winds.

And the Cubs nearly reversed yesterday's blowout, banging out 18 hits including Geovany Soto's eighth HR of the season, and defeated the Angels 12-1, salvaging the final game of the series. Odd, that a series in which the Angels scored 20 runs and the Cubs 18, turned in two one-sided victories.

This game, of course, doesn't cure all the Cubs' ills, but it was fun to watch and had to feel pretty good for the players -- who looked, unlike yesterday, as if they were on a mission. If only they could come out this way every day. Meanwhile, the Angels took on the Cubs' role, making two errors, which allowed three of the eight Cub runs scored off starter Joe Saunders to be unearned.

Carlos Zambrano, after throwing three really odd innings in which he allowed a baserunner, only to have them wiped out by three different methods (inning one: a pickoff after a balk; inning two: a strike-em-out-throw-em-out DP; inning three: a ground ball DP), settled down and allowed only one run in seven innings, his best start of the season. Z also had two hits and drove in a run, giving him 61 career RBI.

I can't explain this wacky season. How can a team look this bad one day and this good the next? That goes for the Angels as well as the Cubs; the Angels looked as bad today as the Cubs did yesterday.

One thing I will note regarding use of players: Mike Scioscia, having his starter bounced from the game in the third inning, used reliever Sean O'Sullivan to throw 3.1 innings of relief, even giving him an at-bat (and why Z didn't just throw three strikes, is beyond me -- O'Sullivan did swing and ground out, but he probably wouldn't have done that if the count hadn't been run to 3-2). See, Lou? You can use a pitcher in "long relief"!

Also, Scioscia pulled Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter after the top of the seventh, even though neither of them had batted in that inning. What a concept! It gave some playing time to players who could use it to stay sharp. Why couldn't Lou use Mike Fontenot today? Or Chad Tracy? Or Kosuke Fukudome? Instead, all eight starting position players played the first eight innings; Tyler Colvin played the field in the ninth after batting for Andrew Cashner and once again getting a hit off a lefty (this time, Brian Fuentes).

Fuentes eventually got pulled with two out in the eighth, which seemed rather pointless, except it gives me a chance to point out again that righthander Trevor Bell, who came in and struck out Jeff Baker, is the grandson of Bob Bell, who was WGN-TV's longtime Bozo the Clown. Somehow, that seems appropriate today, with the game on WGN.

Go enjoy the rest of Father's Day -- the Cubs don't play again for more than 48 hours, but there will undoubtedly be plenty to talk about here until the series in Seattle, which will feature a number of "reunions", begins.