CHICAGO – Randy Wells was the Chicago Cubs' most effective starter this spring, a performance that earned him a spot in the rotation. On Monday, in his first start of the new season, he kept it going.
Pitching in the damp and chill of Wrigley Field instead of the warmth of Arizona, Wells was solid. He overcame a shaky start after giving up a leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist and pitched six innings for the win as the Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1.
"A little sloppy," said Wells, who had four walks and six strikeouts while giving up six hits.
"The home run was a mistake. The first hitter of the game you don't want to walk him. ... It's not the end of the world. A solo homer. You almost got to start the game over."
Wells (1-0) outpitched Diamondbacks left-hander Joe Saunders (0-1). Chicago got a homer and an RBI single from Alfonso Soriano, and Kerry Wood pitched out of a bases-loaded predicament in the eighth as the Cubs evened their record at 2-2.
Wells is trying to bounce back after an 8-14 season with a 4.26 ERA a year ago after going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA as a rookie in 2009.
His success comes from making sure he keeps the ball low.
"You never want to be around the belt or mid-thighs. Try to attack the bottom of the zone and good things happen," Wells said.
Chicago first baseman Carlos Pena, who drove home the go-ahead run in the fourth, had to leave the game for pinch-hitter Reed Johnson in the bottom of the eighth after spraining his thumb. He hurt his thumb on the glove hand apparently while trying to field an off-target throw from shortstop Starlin Castro in the top of the inning.
Cubs manager Mike Quade said Pena will be evaluated to determine the extent of the injury.
"He could play defense he said no problem. He said, 'I can swing it, but if we got an inning going here maybe someone would be better off,'" Quade said.
"So we'll take a look at him tomorrow and see how he's doing. ... He just got his thumb bent back."
Carlos Marmol, who blew a save in Sunday's loss to the Pirates, pitched the ninth for his second of the season.
Saunders, who was supposed to pitch Sunday in Colorado before the game was postponed by a mix of rain and snow, also made it through six innings. He allowed five hits and two runs, including Soriano's second homer of the season that tied it in the third.
Saunders' inability to make a fielding play in the fourth helped the Cubs score the go-ahead run on Pena's sacrifice fly.
Justin Upton caught Pena's liner to right and made a strong throw to the plate that wasn't in time to get Marlon Byrd as the Cubs went up 2-1.
Byrd had reached on an infield single up the first base line when Saunders picked up the ball and flipped it awkwardly away from the bag. Aramis Ramirez singled and Geovany Soto worked a walk to load the bases.
"That little flip," Saunders said. "I make the play 99 out of 100 times. Today I didn't make it. I'm mad at myself for that."
Arizona, which left 11 on base, threatened in the eighth against Wood when Upton reached on Castro's error, Russell Branyan singled and both runners advanced on Chris Young's slow roller to the right of the mound. Wood then intentionally walked Miguel Montero to load the bases before getting a third strike past Ryan Roberts and retiring Gerardo Parra on a fly to left.
"It hurts when you leave so many guys on," Montero said. "It could cost you a game and that's what happened."
Chicago then tacked on two in the bottom half when Ramirez and Soto hit back-to-back doubles off Kam Mickolio, and Soriano greeted David Hernandez with an RBI single.
Arizona has faced some wild weather the last three days. After playing in summer-like conditions on Saturday at Coors Field and then having Sunday's game postponed, the Diamondbacks arrived in Chicago where at game time it was a cool 47 degrees with a northwesterly wind at 15 mph.
NOTES: Diamondbacks bench coach Alan Trammell held the same job the previous four years with the Cubs. Trammell, once a star shortstop for the Tigers, worked with Castro last season. And before Monday's game, Castro thanked Trammell for all his help. "That means a lot," Trammell said. "It's something that even though I'm not there anymore, he'll be somebody I'll be following for the rest of his career. That's how much he means to me." ... Barry Enright will start for Arizona on Tuesday but manager Kirk Gibson still hadn't settled on his pitcher for Wednesday's series finale. ... Attendance was 26,292. ... Byrd caught a fly ball for the final out but it wasn't routine because there were about 50 gulls flocking in the outfield.