CHICAGO -- The Cubs gave Ron Santo a reason to smile Wednesday night.
Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson each hit solo homers to power the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Nationals, capping a day when the team celebrated Santo with a statue outside Wrigley Field.
"Did you guys hear Ronnie at the end?" Cubs manager Mike Quade said as he walked into the postgame interview room. "God, I heard him, loud and clear. It was a beautiful thing, too."
The Cubs unveiled a bronze of the late broadcaster and third baseman before the game at Addison and Sheffield streets with several players attending. The event gave Cubs fans another chance to salute the passionate and personable Santo, who died in December at the age of 70.
"Ronnie was a hard-nosed guy and passionate about everything he did, whether it was when he played the game or after when he was an announcer," Johnson said. "I think all the players and the upper management said the same thing about Ronnie, that his passion showed through.
"My greatest memory of him was when we won the division in '08 and he was in the background saying, 'Yes, yes,' and you could feel it was genuine from him. It was good his family was here and we could get them a win as well."
It was a milestone game for Soriano. Johnson's leadoff blast in the fifth made it 3-1 and after Jayson Werth closed the gap with a solo shot in the sixth, Soriano connected with one out in the sixth for his 20th. He now joins the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and Red Sox's David Ortiz as the only active players to have at least 10 consecutive seasons of 20 or more home runs, which includes this season for all three.
"I'm very proud of myself," Soriano said. "I'm working hard and trying to be consistent in this game. I'm very happy to have 10 years and 20 homers [each year]. I'm a little surprised. I'm a hard worker, but I never expected I would hit a lot of homers in this game. I think that's because of the work and the concentration and the passion and the love that I have for the game."
Soriano also is the third player in Cubs history to hit at least 20 homers in each of his first five seasons with the team, joining Hack Wilson and Andre Dawson.
The Cubs have hit 19 homers in a season-high eight straight games. The last time they connected in nine in a row was July 27-Aug. 4, 2009. What's going on with all the home runs?
"We have a very good team, but the way we played the first couple months was not how we were supposed to play," Soriano said. "I think lately everybody woke up and we started hitting the ball better, and we realized how good we are."
Rodrigo Lopez (3-3), making his eighth start and 18th appearance, went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits, including Werth's home run.
"It was a pitch where I wanted to locate it," Lopez said of the homer, "but not the result I wanted."
"He has been pitching a long time," Werth said of the right-hander. "He knows what he is doing out there. He moved the ball around, changed speeds, he kept us off balance, really. I was able to get it up in the air. This time of year here in Chicago, you get one up, it goes."
The Nationals took advantage of a throwing error by Starlin Castro to go ahead, 1-0, in the first. Ryan Zimmerman singled and scored on Castro's miscue. The Cubs shortstop tried to make amends in the bottom of the frame, when he led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, but he overslid second base trying to stretch the hit.
"If you're going to correct mistakes, those are the kind you're OK with," Quade said of Castro's baserunning. "He did everything right, from hustling from the get-go to give himself a chance at second."
The Cubs then switched on the power. Soto tied the game with a leadoff homer in the second off a 2-2 pitch from Ross Detwiler (1-2), his 12th of the season and third in the last seven games.
Soto walked with one out in the fourth and scored one out later on Soriano's double into the right-field corner. It was a long run for the catcher.
"I'm not the fastest guy ever, but I put my head down and started running, and when I saw Ivan [DeJesus, third-base coach] send me, I thought, 'Oh my goodness, fair ball, I've got to go.' Luckily there was no play and he just wanted me to be aggressive."
The Cubs bullpen delivered as Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol combined for the final 3 1/3 innings, giving up two hits and striking out six.
"We have a lot of potential with this bullpen," Lopez said. "If you have the lead six innings as a starter, you have a chance to win."
A little divine intervention doesn't hurt, either.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.