CHICAGO -- Derrek Lee is already three months ahead of his home run pace of last season. So what's the deal?
Now that the power has returned to his swing, everybody wants to know what the difference is with the Chicago Cubs star.
Lee hit 22 homers last season -- only six before the All-Star break -- and batted .317. But he was often asked why the long ball was missing and if his broken wrist from 2006 was hampering his ability to go deep. He had 46 homers in 2005.
"I was happy with my season last year. I felt I was a very productive hitter and the home runs just weren't there, and people asked me have I changed," Lee said Saturday after hitting his seventh homer to help the Chicago Cubs rout the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-1.
"I didn't want to change because I thought I was OK last year and this year the ball is just getting up over the fence. ... I'm just getting the ball in the air this year. Last year it just didn't happen for me."
Lee's first-inning two-run homer -- he didn't hit No. 7 last season until July 15 -- got the Cubs started Saturday as they made it easy for Jason Marquis to get his first win of the season.
Daryle Ward, who came into the game in the sixth because Lee had a stiff neck, homered for his first hit of the season, and the Cubs beat the Pirates for the eighth straight time, including five in a row this season.
"I've felt good all season and feel like I have a good approach right now," Lee said, adding that his neck was OK and he would be fine to play in Sunday's series finale. "Everybody chipped in, and it was nice to see Daryle Ward get going."
Marquis (1-0) won for the first time since last Sept. 16, allowing a run and six hits while striking out seven.
Marquis helped himself with an RBI double.
"I work hard at it. It feels nice to contribute both ways," Marquis said.
Chicago took a 7-0 lead after three innings, roughing up Tom Gorzelanny (1-2) for the second time this season. The Cubs took advantage of the Pirates' wildness, drawing 10 walks.
"I've been rushing and trying to overthrow a lot of pitches. That's what happens when the ball gets lifted and they made contact," Gorzelanny said. "If I keep the ball down, they hit it on the ground. If I get the ball up high, they put it in the air."
Nate McLouth provided Pittsburgh's highlight, extending his hitting streak to 17 games with a fifth-inning double. He has gotten a hit in every Pirates game this season, and scored their run on a double by Freddy Sanchez.
Geovany Soto hit an RBI double in the second and the Cubs finished Gorzelanny with a four-run third - this was the second time in two weeks the Pirates lefty failed to make it past the third against the Cubs.
"I think he's struggled a little bit with his command this year and last year he was really tough spotting the ball," Lee said. "This year he's fallen behind a little bit and had to come over the plate."
As Fukudome and DeRosa took off on a double steal attempt, catcher Ryan Doumit threw the ball into left field for an error that let a run score. DeRosa took third on the play and trotted home on Gorzelanny's wild pitch.
Ronny Cedeno got the fourth walk off Gorzelanny on a 12-pitch at-bat. He scored when Marquis doubled into the right-field corner and that finished Gorzelanny, a 14-game winner last season.
Reliever Tyler Yates was just as off with his control. After giving up a one-out single to Theriot in the sixth, he walked three straight batters, forcing in a run. DeRosa's sacrifice fly made it 9-1, and Yates' fourth walk of the inning reloaded the bases.
Cedeno greeted reliever John Grabow with a two-run single, making it 11-1.
"It's just one of those games where you get your butt kicked," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It's one of those games. It's not the last time we're going to get kicked. We just have to put it behind us."
Ward, who was 0-for-11 this season, homered off Evan Meek in the seventh.
- Gorzelanny, from the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, was scheduled to leave about 15 tickets to the game for family and friends. In his previous outing against the Cubs in Pittsburgh on April 7, he also gave up four walks, six hits and seven runs but lasted only 2 1/3 innings.
- The Cubs called up OF Matt Murton from Triple-A Iowa and sent INF-OF Eric Patterson back to the same team. Murton went 0-for-2 on Saturday.