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Castro, Barney power Cubs past Dodgers

CHICAGO -- On a day when the story line was supposed to be about best friends and former teammates Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster opposing each on the mound, it was a different duo that took center stage in the Cubs' 10-8 come from behind victory over the Dodgers.

The top of the order combo of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney continued their hot-hitting ways as the two youngsters combined to go 7-for-10, while knocking in six runs and scoring four.

Castro was back in the leadoff spot, where he’s hitting a cool .500 (23-46), after a two-game stint in the three hole. Barney was happy to see Castro back at the top of the order.

“It’s fun to hit behind a guy that’s getting on base and making things happen,” Barney said. “It makes my life easier when I can simplify things at the plate and just be a situational hitter.”

Castro, who reiterated that he doesn’t care where he hits in the lineup, was just as complimentary.

“I feel real good [with Barney hitting behind me],” Castro said, with third-base coach Ivan DeJesus serving as translator, “He has great bat control and always seems to make contact.”

Manager Mike Quade was pleased to see the kids get the job done at the top and hoped the two would continue to deliver the rest of the way. He, along with the rest of the team, was also thrilled to finally see some good weather in Chicago, as the runs came in bunches on a warm 63-degree day.

“I felt like I was in a different country today,” Barney said, as the warm weather led to the fans finally showing up to Wrigley (41,161 paid attendance). “It’s pretty nice here when the suns out and you have a lot of fans backing you in the stands.”

Barney and Castro weren’t the only stars for the offense, as Jeff Baker made a rare start at first base and delivered the big hit, a two RBI double in the 8th to give the Cubs a 10-8 lead. Baker got the start with the lefty Lilly going for the Dodgers, but Quade decided not to pinch-hit for Baker in the 8th when he was facing the right-hander Blake Hawksworth.

“He’s had some good at-bats against right-handers this year, he’s lined out a couple times” Quade said of Baker, who had only had two hits in 12 at-bats against righties so far in 2011. “The guy’s been doing a hell of a job for us, [I thought], let’s give him a shot to win this thing, and he did it.”

Baker, getting only his second start in the last two weeks, admitted it can be difficult not getting regular at-bats, but he adjusted accordingly.

“It’s one those things, when you get in there, you try to see some pitches early, try to get your timing back quick,” Baker said. “As a guy on the bench you’re not always have your timing or your ‘A’ swing.”

The thought of being pinch hit for never entered Baker’s mind, as he said he’s confident he can hit any pitcher regardless of which hand they pitch with.

“I don’t prepare to go up there and get taken out,” Baker said with confidence, “I prepare to get the hit.”