Manager Lou Piniella revealed he actually rapped while shooting a TV commercial promoting the upcoming City Series against the White Sox. Is America ready for MC Lou?
While Piniella declined to show off his rapping skills, his team went out and did a number on Atlanta, winning 10-5 before a loud and rambunctious crowd of 41,624.
"They do play a factor," Derrek Lee said. "They definitely energize us. If we get in a big situation, the crowd is on its feet, which plays into our hands. But also we have a good team and we're playing well here, so it boils down to that."
Lee and Geovany Soto homered, Reed Johnson added to his collection of spectacular catches and Ted Lilly (6-5) overcame a three-run first inning to earn his fifth victory in his last six decisions. The Cubs won their ninth straight at Wrigley Field to improve to 27-8, their best start at home since 1907, when they won their first World Series and played at the West Side Grounds.
After taking a 6-3 lead into the seventh, Bob Howry gave up two runs on four hits. Piniella called on Scott Eyre with two out and two on.
"I didn't even know who I faced," Eyre said. "By the time I got to the mound, Geo was talking to [ Aramis Ramirez] when I go, 'Hey, who are we facing here?' He goes, '[Ruben] Gotay.' But it wasn't Gotay. He came up the next inning. I don't know who I faced. I wasn't paying attention. I was trying to make sure I got an out."
The mystery man was Gregor Blanco, who struck out in what Piniella called the game's key moment.
Eyre ran his consecutive scoreless appearance streak to 31 games, tying Ryan Dempster's franchise record. Soto followed up with a three-run homer to cap a four-run eighth that helped the Cubs pull away and send Atlanta to a 7-22 road record.
While the Cubs offense has received the bulk of the credit for their 41-24 record, the pitching quietly has taken over the league lead with a 3.69 ERA. The last time the Cubs led the NL in pitching was with a 2.98 ERA in 1945, the year of their last pennant.
After serving up a three-run homer to Greg Norton in the first and receiving a warning from plate umpire Doug Eddings for a pitch that sailed past Brian McCann's head, Lilly shut down the Braves into the seventh.
Lilly was aided by strong defense, including a leaping catch by Johnson in the fourth to rob Omar Infante of extra bases. Johnson rated it a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 10 being his memorable diving catch in Washington.
"I didn't know if I was going to catch it, even when I left my feet," he said. "I reached up as high as I could and got it in the tip of my glove, barely. I felt like it was a good play. Just no dive involved."