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updated: 7/3/2011 8:49 PM

Lopez key to win over Sox

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  • Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez allowed only 2 hits over 7 innings of work in Sunday's victory over the White Sox.

      Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez allowed only 2 hits over 7 innings of work in Sunday's victory over the White Sox.
    Associated Press

 
 

The youngest Cub, who's also their newest all-star, spoke respectfully of the oldest Cub, who had just pitched like an all-star.

"He pitched real well. Good concentration," Starlin Castro said of Rodrigo Lopez, after the 35-year-old journeyman pitched 7 scoreless innings in just his third start of the season to lead the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the White Sox on Sunday in front of 42,311 at sunny Wrigley Field.

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Castro may be only 21, but the precocious shortstop is wise enough that he won't even kid the much-older Lopez -- whose thick black hair is starting to gray -- about his age.

"No, no, I don't joke about that," Castro said. "I think he knows my age, but I don't know his age."

Castro was turning 5 when Lopez signed with San Diego as a non-drafted free agent in 1995. The native of Mexico dipped into the fountain of youth against the White Sox, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

"Well, he threw strikes," said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose White Sox won four of six against the Cubs this season. "He changed speeds. He pitched good. We didn't look too good at the plate today.

"I thought we would do a better job against him. But I'm not going to take any credit away from him. He pitched a lot better than people thought he was going to pitch."

Lopez needed only 75 pitches to get through 7 innings. The only hits the righty allowed were infield singles to Mark Teahen in the third and newly named all-star Carlos Quentin in the fourth.

Lopez, who has averaged fewer than 3 walks per 9 innings over his career, didn't issue a free pass while striking out three.

"He put the ball over the plate," said White Sox leadoff man Juan Pierre. "He pitched with precision. He kept us off balance and threw all of his pitches -- fastball, slider, changeup -- over the plate. He threw his fastball on both sides of the plate."

Lopez hadn't earned a win as a starter since Sept. 22 of last year with Arizona. He's 76-84 in his career.

Carlos Marmol got a four-out save, after Kerry Wood struggled in the eighth, to give Lopez his first victory as a Cub.

"Funny game, isn't it?" Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "(Lopez) was outstanding. … He went right after them. They put balls in play, but that's kind of what he needs to do. We need to play good defense for him because he's going to pitch to contact."

Quade lifted Lopez for pinch hitter Blake DeWitt with Tony Campana, running for Alfonso Soriano, on second base and one out in the seventh. Lopez had retired the last 10 batters he faced, but when his left hamstring cramped up in the top of the seventh, he told Quade.

"I knew my pitch count was low, but I felt I had to be honest and let (Quade) know," Lopez said. "Besides, I think we had all the bullpen (rested). This is a team. There are no heroes here."

Lopez, who's three weeks older than Soriano, hadn't gotten out of the fourth inning in either of his 2 previous Cubs starts, against Houston and San Francisco, respectively.

"I was able to change speeds and (had) good location," said Lopez, who was pitching in Class AAA when the Cubs picked him up from Atlanta on May 26. "I was just trying to execute my pitches and my game plan, and I think it worked."

Castro, named an all-star before the game by National League manager Bruce Bochy, ripped an RBI triple to open the scoring in fourth. Castro's triple, his eighth for third most in the NL, scored Darwin Barney and snapped a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by the White Sox against the Cubs.

Aramis Ramirez followed by reaching for a Gavin Floyd slider on the outer half and yanking it into the second row of the left-field bleachers for his seventh homer in his last 11 games.

"Stay hot, Rammy," a smiling Quade said.

Ramirez, who has 10 homers in his last 26 games and is hitting .293, leads all NL-qualifying third basemen in homers (12), RBI (44) and OPS (.816). He did not make the all-star team, however, and did not feel slighted.

"I got better 10 days ago," Ramirez said. "Ten days ago, I got 5 homers. So I don't really deserve to be an all-star. There are a lot of guys that deserve it. I saw (Paul) Konerko didn't make it, and he really, really deserves to be there."

Floyd fell to 6-8, despite striking out eight and walking only one in 7 innings.

"Gavin throw the ball well," Guillen said. "I think the (homer) Ramirez hit, it was a great pitch, but he put a better swing on it."

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