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Pittsburgh at Chicago

Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (7-11)000031011692
Chi. Cubs (12-6) «10225300x13181

Cubs 13, Pirates 6

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- For one brief moment, a smile crossed Aramis Ramirez's face when he learned the Chicago Cubs took the lead in the National League Central. Then, it disappeared.

The Cubs know how drastically fortunes can change, so they weren't about to jump for joy over moving into first place on Sunday.

Ramirez tied a career high with four hits, including a two-run homer, in a 13-6 victory over Pittsburgh that gave Chicago its second three-game sweep of the Pirates this season.

Then, he had a question: "Did St. Louis win today?"

No, the Cardinals lost to San Francisco, so the Cubs took a half-game lead in the Central. Ramirez let out a smile and then it was gone.

"We still got, what, 150 games to go?" he said.

Actually, they have 144. But if Ramirez wants to prolong this season, well, so do the rest of his teammates.

Chicago got big days from Ramirez and Ryan Theriot and won for the 11th time in 14 games. Theriot had four hits, scored three runs and drove in two. With Saturday's 13-1 drubbing, this was the first time the Cubs scored 13 or more in back-to-back games since they did it against Florida and Atlanta on July 20-21, 2003.

Chicago banged out a season-high 18 hits, the most since it had 20 against Cincinnati last August 16, while sending Pittsburgh to its fifth straight loss. The win was Chicago's ninth straight against the Pirates, matching the Cubs' longest win streak against them since Sept. 5, 1938 to May 13, 1939.

"It feels great to be in first place," starter Ryan Dempster said. "Now, the tough part is trying to stay there."

Dempster (3-0) wasn't feeling great after Pittsburgh scored three runs in the fifth to cut it to 5-3, but Chicago responded with five in the bottom half against reliever Franquelis Osoria. The Pirates committed two errors in the inning, and Ramirez capped the outburst with his fourth homer.

The four-hit game was Ramirez's 18th and his first since Sept. 27 at Florida.

"I felt pretty good," said Ramirez, who raised his average from .234 to .275. "I can't say I'm right where I want to be because I only had (one) good day."

At 12-6, the Cubs matched their best 18-game start since 2004. One reason is their patience at the plate. The Cubs walked seven times on Sunday after drawing 10 the previous day.

"We figure we should score runs," Lee said. "We feel like this is what we're capable of."

Theriot is playing a big part, with a .338 average.

He singled in a run in the first to extend his hitting streak to seven and was 4-for-5. He doubled and scored in the third, and added an RBI double and scored again in the fourth to help Chicago build a 5-0 lead.

That was enough for Dempster, who was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth. He allowed five hits, walked two, struck out three and hit a batter in his shortest outing of the year.

It was a rough outing for Pittsburgh's Zach Duke (0-1), who was 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA in nine previous starts against Chicago. This time, he allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings and his ERA climbed from 2.89 to 4.37. He walked two and hit two batters. Only 36 of his 69 pitches were strikes.

"You can't overanalyze it too much," he said. "You can get into a big downward spiral if you let yourself do that. I'm going to take this one for what it is and bounce back next time."

The Cubs scratched Kosuke Fukudome from their lineup because of a small cyst above his right eye -- a condition that manager Lou Piniella said is not serious while calling it "only a one-day thing."

Ryan Doumit had two solo homers for Pittsburgh, not that he took consolation from that.

"There was not one thing about it that helped us win," he said.

After picking on the Pirates, the Cubs face a stiffer test the next two days when the New York Mets visit.

"We're hitting pretty good," Ramirez said. "Last year in April, we pitched good but we didn't hit good."

Notes

Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth extended his hitting streak to 18 with a single in the first -- the longest by a Pirate since Jason Kendall hit in 20 straight in 2004. It's also the club's longest to start the season since Al Oliver's 18-game streak in 1972. ... Injured Cubs reliever Chad Fox (right elbow) is scheduled to head to Class A Daytona for a rehab stint on Tuesday, and Scott Eyre (left elbow) might join him there in the next few days.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

R. Doumit
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
Chicago

R. Theriot
AB 5
R 3
H 4
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF3011102 .382
Freddy Sanchez, 2B5011001 .220
Jason Bay, LF3100203 .267
Adam LaRoche, 1B4000026 .132
    Phil Dumatrait, P0000000 .000
   a- Ronny Paulino, PH1011000 .269
Xavier Nady, RF5110011 .338
Ryan Doumit, C5222012 .320
Jose Bautista, 3B3110120 .185
Brian Bixler, SS3100020 .167
Zach Duke, P1000000 .125
   b- Doug Mientkiewicz, PH1011000 .222
    Franquelis Osoria, P0000000 .500
    Damaso Marte, P0000000 .000
   c- Chris Gomez, PH-1B2010002 .308
Totals3669648  
a-doubled for Dumatrait in the 9th
b-singled for Duke in the 5th
c-singled for Marte in the 7th
Batting
2B - Ronny Paulino (2, Marshall), Jose Bautista (5, Dempster)
HR - Ryan Doumit 2 (4, Howry, Wuertz)
RBI - Nate McLouth (16), Freddy Sanchez (6), Ronny Paulino (6), Ryan Doumit 2 (6), Doug Mientkiewicz (1)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Bixler-F. Sanchez-Gomez
E - Adam LaRoche (2, Misplayed grounder), Freddy Sanchez (3, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Zach Duke (L,0-1) 4855200 4.37
Franquelis Osoria 1655001 7.43
Damaso Marte 1333210 11.05
Phil Dumatrait 2100330 3.68
HBP - Johnson (by Zach Duke), Ramirez (by Zach Duke)
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Duke 69-36, Franquelis Osoria 35-25, Damaso Marte 37-21, Phil Dumatrait 39-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Duke 10-2, Franquelis Osoria 2-1, Damaso Marte 1-1, Phil Dumatrait 1-1
Batters Faced - Zach Duke 24, Franquelis Osoria 9, Damaso Marte 8, Phil Dumatrait 9
Chicago Cubs
Reed Johnson, CF5320006 .354
Ryan Theriot, SS5342112 .338
Derrek Lee, 1B4222101 .364
    Daryle Ward, 1B0000100 .083
Aramis Ramirez, 3B5144001 .275
Matt Murton, LF6012004 .125
Mark DeRosa, RF4010104 .317
Geovany Soto, C2220200 .328
    Henry Blanco, C0000100 .333
Ronny Cedeno, 2B5221016 .350
Ryan Dempster, P1000000 .167
   a- Mike Fontenot, PH1000000 .226
    Bob Howry, P1000012 .000
   b- Felix Pie, PH1000012 .143
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .000
Totals4013181174  
a-grounded out for Dempster in the 5th
b-struck out for Howry in the 7th
Batting
2B - Reed Johnson (3, Duke), Ryan Theriot 2 (5, Duke, Duke), Aramis Ramirez (5, Duke), Ronny Cedeno (2, Osoria)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (4, Osoria)
SH - Ryan Dempster (4)
RBI - Ryan Theriot 2 (5), Derrek Lee 2 (17), Aramis Ramirez 4 (11), Matt Murton 2 (2), Ronny Cedeno (6)
2-OUT RBI - Derrek Lee 2 (4), Aramis Ramirez 3 (6)
SB - Ryan Theriot (4, 3rd base off Duke/Doumit)
Team LOB - 13
Fielding
DP - Ramirez-Lee
E - Michael Wuertz (1, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster (W,3-0) 5533230 3.00
Bob Howry 2211041 7.20
Michael Wuertz 1111101 4.35
Sean Marshall 1111110 2.08
HBP - Bixler (by Ryan Dempster), McLouth (by Bob Howry)
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 94-62, Bob Howry 36-22, Michael Wuertz 27-15, Sean Marshall 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 8-3, Bob Howry 1-1, Michael Wuertz 2-2, Sean Marshall 2-0
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 22, Bob Howry 9, Michael Wuertz 6, Sean Marshall 5
Game Information
Attendance - 41405
Game Time - 3:13
Temperature - 48
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Ted Barrett