Anthony Rizzo’s walk-off homer to beat Cardinals fulfills dream
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org July 29, 2012 10:48PM
Anthony Rizzo belts a two-run, walk-off home run in the 10th inning against the Cardinals. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: August 31, 2012 6:18AM
After rookie Anthony Rizzo’s first career game-winning walk-off home run in the 10th inning, the Cubs were celebrating the present — a 4-2 victory — and looking forward to the future.
Rizzo’s opposite-field drive off Trevor Rosenthal (0-1) on Sunday brought home Starlin Castro ahead of him, giving the Cubs the series win over the Cardinals and reliever James Russell (5-0) a second consecutive victory.
But it could be a snapshot of things to come with a cast including left-hander Paul Maholm, who has been one of baseball’s best pitchers in the last six weeks.
Maholm didn’t get the win but held the Cards’ potent offense to a run and four hits in 62/3 innings, his sixth start in a row allowing one or no runs.
‘‘He’s arguably the best pitcher in the last month in all of baseball,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘He’s very young  without a lot of wear and tear innings-wise.’’
Count Maholm, who signed as a free agent, among the players who would like to be with Rizzo, Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney in the Cubs’ future.
‘‘I’ve said it before: There’s a reason I signed here,’’ said Maholm, whose contract has a club option next season. ‘‘I’ve always enjoyed playing here. They gave me a chance to prove I was healthy, and I am. Hopefully this turns into a long-term thing.’’
Rizzo is putting an exclamation point on the decision by Theo Epstein and Co. to make him the centerpiece.
‘‘The homer was something I’ve always dreamed of doing,’’ Rizzo said, and it punctuated his 3-for-4 day.
‘‘Starlin is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen offensively and defensively. And Darwin gets to balls I’ve never even seen.’’
There was a hit in the first inning that might be as important to the Cubs’ future.
It came from Alfonso Soriano, a legged-out double on a ball hit to short right field. A day earlier, Soriano hit his first triple in almost a year.
Watching both were scouts from a number of teams who are following the Cubs as Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline nears.
Soriano’s heavy contract has been thought to be an impediment to a trade. But his improved play has drawn interest from contending teams in need of hitting.