Cubs soar to first victory in two weeks

CHICAGO -- The Cubs had a losing streak that was for the birds, or at least one that was ushered out by a number of their flying friends.

It started with the Wrigley Field summer holiday tradition of a bald eagle flying in from the center field scoreboard during the National Anthem and landing on the arm of its handler on the pitcher’s mound. It was the first time on the day the crowd was stirred into a frenzy, but not the last.

In the seventh inning, when the Cubs and Padres were separated by a mere run, there was another bird sighting. What appeared to be a pigeon, or perhaps a dove, was resting on the infield grass when Ian Stewart charged in on a grounder.

Chase Headley, who had already hit two home runs on the day, headed for the plate. Stewart avoided the bird, which was enjoying the day on the cool grass, and fired to the plate in time to preserve the lead.

“It made me have some good footwork over there,” Stewart said. “I saw it. I don’t know if it was hurt or whatever but I almost stepped on it in the end.”

He didn’t. In fact it was the first time the Cubs didn’t “step in it” as a collective group. There was just enough pitching on a day when the wind was blowing out and then a whole bunch of offense in the 11-7 victory. Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney, Stewart and Starlin Castro all hit home runs.

David DeJesus had two triples, including one in the eighth inning that started out as a sky-high routine fly ball that was lifted by a gust and dropped untouched on the warning track.

Sure the wind helped, but it was there for both teams. And sometimes a little assistance is what is needed to get things back on track.

When the final out was secured and the Cubs had their first victory since a May 14 game at St. Louis, the Wrigley Field seagulls descended onto the playing surface in an orderly fashion for once.

Just two losses from the longest losing streak in franchise history, the Cubs were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. It was only the seventh time in franchise history a losing streak had reached 12 games. They avoided just the fifth 13-game losing streak in club history.

“It’s (expletive) relief,” Sveum said afterward. “Let’s not kid yourself. You lose 12 in a row and finally win, thank god I didn’t break my streak.”

That “streak” would be the 12-consecutive defeats Sveum suffered as a player with the Milwaukee Brewers.

No Sveum didn’t reach new depths and his club had the wind to thank for part of it. It’s OK to admit it. Birds are known to appreciate a nice stiff breeze too.