03/25/12 8:45 PM ET
Hafner keeps hot spring flowing against Cubs
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Chicago (11-13-1) broke through for three runs in the seventh inning against Cleveland left-hander Rafael Perez, pulling away for a win over the Indians (6-14-3). That outburst was highlighted by Soriano's two-run homer. Soriano also delivered a sacrifice fly during a three-run third inning.
Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez -- up against Kevin Slowey and David Huff for the lone vancacy in the Tribe's rotation -- was charged with three runs on seven hits in five innings of work. The Cubs' three-run third inning snapped Gomez's Cactus League scoreless streak at 13 innings. Gomez struck out three and walked three in an 80-pitch performance.
"I really liked the way Gomez battled today without having his command," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "He didn't have his fastball command the whole day and, still, that's what you need to do when you don't have your best stuff. He continued to fight through and made pitches when he had to. It turned out to be another good outing for him."
Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who started the game for the Cubs, allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings against the Tribe. Lopez is a long-shot candidate to make Chicago's rotation and has a chance to work his way onto the Opening Day roster as a long reliever.
Cleveland broke through against Lopez in the first inning, when second baseman Jason Kipnis led off with a double down the left-field line. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single and Lopez walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases. Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner each came through with run-scoring groundouts off Lopez to help the Indians to a 2-0 lead.
In the third inning, Cabrera crushed a pitch from Lopez to deep center field, where Cubs bench hopeful Joe Mather raced back toward the wall. On a dead sprint, Mather made an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch before crashing into the fence -- a highlight-reel out that robbed Cabrera of a sure extra-base hit.
Hafner went 2-for-3 with a walk for the day and is hitting .353 during Cactus League play.
Up next: Justin Masterson, Cleveland's Opening Day starter, is scheduled to toe the rubber when the Indians host the Brewers in a 4:05 p.m. ET tilt on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark. Masterson, who pitched in a Minor League game his last time out, will look to improve on an inconsistent spring, during which he has gone 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three Cactus League outings. The game can be heard on Gameday Audio, WTAM 1100 and the Indians Radio Network.