Pittsburgh at Chicago

Chi. Cubs
W: C. Zambrano (17-13) L: T. Gorzelanny (14-9)
HR: PIT - None   CHC - D. Lee (20), R. Cedeno (3)

Big Z notches 17th win as Cubs stretch lead in NL Central

CBSSports.com wire reports

CHICAGO -- Derrek Lee was a member of the Florida Marlins four years ago when they came to Wrigley Field and won the NL championship series. What he heard from the crowd Sunday in the Chicago Cubs' regular-season finale at home sounded very familiar.

"This is playoff atmosphere already. I remember playing here in '03 in the playoffs, this is pretty close right now. I'm excited if we are able to get into the playoffs what it will be like," Lee said.

Lee homered and Carlos Zambrano earned his career-best 17th victory to help the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0.

The victory, coupled with Milwaukee's 7-4 loss in Atlanta, pushed Chicago's lead in the NL Central to 3½ games with six to go -- all away from home.

The Cubs, who have won 10 of 12, are off Monday before hitting the road to play Florida and Cincinnati as they try to wrap up their first playoff berth in four years. The second-place Brewers have seven games left -- all at home -- against the Cardinals and Padres.

"I felt all along in September we'd get hot and we have," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "We've still got some work to do. This is a tough little trip. ... I'll be more excited if and when we clinch. That's what this is all about. We're in good position, but again there is baseball to be played."

Zambrano allowed only three hits in six innings but was forced to leave with cramping in his forearm and legs while warming up for the top of the seventh.

He had doubled and raced home to score in the sixth, and that contributed to his problem. He had a similar bout with heat cramping against the Mets in August and vowed to drink more water.

"I'm a pitcher, not a doctor," Zambrano said. "But I have to do like a month ago. I had the same thing. I took care of that and now I have to do the same thing and start drinking more Gatorade and whatever. Whatever I have to do to solve the problem."

A huge cheer went up when the scoreboard showed that Atlanta had scored four runs in the seventh to take the lead against the Brewers, and the crowd began to do the Tomahawk Chop -- a ritual at Braves games. The fans did it again when Atlanta tacked on two in the eighth, and for a third time when the final score was posted.

"That was pretty cool," Lee said.

"I don't think there is an environment like this in baseball. I really don't," Piniella said.

Ronny Cedeno -- a late addition to the lineup when regular shortstop Ryan Theriot was scratched with back spasms -- also went deep as the Cubs sent the Pirates to their ninth consecutive loss.

"We ran into a buzz saw. It's that simple," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "They are very focused and on a mission. After today, personally I think they're going to accomplish it. ... Just everything is going right for them."

Zambrano (17-13) walked three and struck out six, fanning his first four batters.

When he went out to warm up for the seventh, trainer Mark O'Neal came to the mound and moments later Zambrano left, shaking Piniella's hand near the third-base line. Gametime temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees.

"When I scored I felt something in my leg and when I was warming up I threw two sliders in a row and I felt it in my forearm," Zambrano said.

Kerry Wood replaced Zambrano and pitched two innings. Michael Wuertz completed the three-hit shutout.

Zambrano has won three of his past four starts -- he dropped his previous outing on three days' rest against the Reds -- and will make his final start of the regular season Saturday in Cincinnati.

Tom Gorzelanny (14-9), who was 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs, failed for a third consecutive start to get his 15th victory. And with a career-high 195 2/3 innings, he might not get another chance if his last scheduled start is skipped. He gave up 12 hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Chicago went ahead in the second when Matt Murton doubled, moved to third on a bloop single by Geovany Soto and scored on Cedeno's single.

The Cubs made it 3-0 in the fifth when Alfonso Soriano opened with a single, stole second and scored on Lee's RBI double. Aramis Ramirez was intentionally walked and Murton beat out an infield single to load the bases before Soto delivered a sacrifice fly.

After Mark DeRosa singled in Zambrano, Lee hit a two-run homer just over the wall in right-center, his 20th of the season, to finish Gorzelanny.

Cedeno added a two-run shot off Romulo Sanchez in the seventh.


  • Bay, who sat out the first two games of the series, returned to the Pirates' lineup. He had been in a 2-for-17 skid in five previous games since missing a week with a sore right knee.
  • The Cubs' final home crowd of 41,364 brought the 81-game regular season total to 3,252,462, a franchise record.
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Derrek Lee can smell the playoffs, knocking a home run to help power the Cubs past the Pirates.  (AP)
Derrek Lee can smell the playoffs, knocking a home run to help power the Cubs past the Pirates. (AP)

Players of the Game

D. Lee
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1

C. Zambrano
IP 6.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 3
K 6

Related Video

Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, CF4010011 .265
Jose Bautista, 3B3000121 .259
Freddy Sanchez, 2B3000011 .304
   a- Matt Kata, PH-2B1000011 .216
Adam LaRoche, 1B4010020 .273
Xavier Nady, RF4010011 .283
Jason Bay, LF2000110 .248
    Romulo Sanchez, P0000000 .000
   b- Steve Pearce, PH1000010 .288
Ronny Paulino, C3000010 .260
Cesar Izturis, SS3000002 .255
Tom Gorzelanny, P1000110 .066
    Franquelis Osoria, P0000000 .000
    Nate McLouth, LF0000100 .257
a-struck out for F. Sanchez in the 8th
b-struck out for R. Sanchez in the 9th
SB - Xavier Nady (3, 2nd base off Zambrano/Soto)
CS - Nyjer Morgan (3, 2nd base by Zambrano/Soto)
Team LOB - 6
Outfield Assists - Jason Bay 1
PB - Ronny Paulino (8)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Tom Gorzelanny (L,14-9) 5.21266271 3.73
Franquelis Osoria 0.1000000 4.39
Romulo Sanchez 2222131 2.45
IBB - Ramirez by Tom Gorzelanny
WP - Romulo Sanchez (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Tom Gorzelanny 117-73, Franquelis Osoria 1-1, Romulo Sanchez 34-21
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tom Gorzelanny 2-7, Romulo Sanchez 1-2
Batters Faced - Tom Gorzelanny 30, Franquelis Osoria 1, Romulo Sanchez 9
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5110013 .296
Mark DeRosa, 2B4121120 .295
Derrek Lee, 1B4223102 .319
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000133 .312
Matt Murton, RF4130011 .284
    Sam Fuld, RF0000000 .000
Geovany Soto, C3121010 .395
Craig Monroe, CF3000014 .221
    Felix Pie, CF1000001 .211
Ronny Cedeno, SS4133000 .200
Carlos Zambrano, P3110003 .256
    Kerry Wood, P1000010 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
2B - Mark DeRosa (27, Gorzelanny), Derrek Lee (41, Gorzelanny), Matt Murton 2 (12, Gorzelanny, Gorzelanny), Carlos Zambrano (2, Gorzelanny)
HR - Derrek Lee (20, Gorzelanny), Ronny Cedeno (3, R. Sanchez)
SF - Geovany Soto (1)
RBI - Mark DeRosa (72), Derrek Lee 3 (79), Geovany Soto (7), Ronny Cedeno 3 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Mark DeRosa (27), Derrek Lee 2 (29), Ronny Cedeno 2 (6)
SB - Alfonso Soriano (19, 2nd base off Gorzelanny/Paulino)
Team LOB - 8
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,17-13) 6300360 4.08
Kerry Wood 2000130 3.80
Michael Wuertz 1000030 3.63
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 93-58, Kerry Wood 27-18, Michael Wuertz 15-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 6-5, Kerry Wood 3-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 23, Kerry Wood 7, Michael Wuertz 3
Game Information
Attendance - 41364
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Tom Hallion