If this is Alfonso Soriano's future, it's no wonder he's always wearing shades.

The Cubs' 36-year-old left fielder with the balky knee settled into an unfamiliar role Friday and made himself at home in the American League again. As the designated hitter, he drilled two mammoth home runs, including only the third homer into the third deck in the 21/2-year history of Target Field.

Soriano, who also had an infield hit, wasn't celebrating his big day after the Cubs lost for the 19th time in 23 games — on a second consecutive walk-off hit, this time a single by Minnesota's Josh Willingham in the 10th inning to beat the Cubs 8-7.

Despite the loss, Soriano's power surge — all 11 of his homers have come in the last 23 games — and his apparent comfort level in the DH role might be pushing his value just high enough to give the front office a chance to trade him by the July 31 deadline.

Counting the first-inning homer halfway up the center-field batter's eye that was estimated at 431 feet and a 400-foot out in the fifth, Soriano hit more than 1,270 feet of fly balls in three of his at-bats.

Not that he particularly likes the DH, or that he wants to leave Chicago. But he has said for more than a year that he won't let his no-trade rights stand in the way if the Cubs can find a taker for some of the $48 million left on his deal.

If that happens, his greatest value will be with an AL team that has the option of using him regularly as a DH over the next 21/2 years.