Villanueva does his job in Cubs' victory
When Carlos Villanueva was reminded Sunday he has been the good soldier all year, he quickly clarified.
"I think I've been the (good) soldier for seven years now," he said, referring to his career as a swingman in the big leagues. "It just feels good to have some music on after the game."
The Cubs were dancing to the music because they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 at Wrigley Field.
Villanueva didn't get the win and didn't even get a quality start as he lasted just 4 innings. But he did his job.
He finds himself back in the starting rotation because the Cubs traded Scott Feldman to Baltimore last week. Villanueva opened the season as a starter, but he went to the pen when Matt Garza came off the disabled list in late May.
Sunday's start came with minimal "stretching out."
"That was discussed beforehand," he said of an eventual return to the rotation. "I guess we've all known from Day One this year that stuff might happen. Even I could get moved. There are some untouchables, but being around this business for a while now, I know how it is.
"I've been in some key situations out of the bullpen, too. I threw in the eighth inning a couple times … I've started. I've been long (relief). I guess I just need a save this year to complete the cycle."
Why Sori's so hot:
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano was "only" 1-for-4 Sunday, one day after belting a pair of homers. He is 13-for-38 (.342) with 14 RBI in his last nine games.
"The one thing you notice is he's hitting the fastball," manager Dale Sveum said. "I think that's the biggest thing.
"When you have the confidence when you're hitting fastballs and you lay off the breaking balls or whatever it might be and the bat speed is there you feel that good, you start doing a lot of good things because you're laying off a lot of bad pitches."
Third baseman Luis Valbuena was 0-for-3, but he picked up 2 more walks, 1 intentional. His 37 walks are tied with Anthony Rizzo for the team lead.
Valbuena's batting average is only .243, but his on-base percentage is .355.
"On a whole, from last year to this year, he's been so consistent, even though you're not seeing a .300 batting average," Dale Sveum said.
"The on-base percentage and the walks seem to always be there on a consistent basis, and the defense he's played has been as good as anybody at third base."