|Chi. Cubs (82-50) «||0||0||1||4||1||1||0||7||0||14||13||3|
The team with the majors' best record need not have worried. Geovany Soto still had another at-bat to go.
Soto drove in seven runs and his second three-run double of the game keyed a seven-run eighth inning, helping the Cubs rally for a 14-9 victory against the Pirates on Tuesday night.
The Cubs trailed 8-7 entering the eighth but still won their fourth in a row to move 32 games above .500 for the first time since they were 90-58 on Sept. 15, 1984. Pirates reliever Craig Hansen (0-2) walked in the tying and go-ahead runs while walking three consecutive batters and Soto hit his second bases-loaded double in a span of five innings.
Soto added a solo homer and now has 78 RBI in his rookie season despite usually batting in the lower end of the lineup, with 18 RBI against the Pirates. He hit his 20th homer in the sixth, off Denny Bautista.
"Soto's a clutch hitter. With men on base, he bears down," manager Lou Piniella said.
In this game, Soto had runners on base during all but one of his five at-bats.
"I tried to stay on the ball and not do too much and have good at-bats for the team," Soto said.
Soto did that and more while becoming the seventh major leaguer to drive in seven or more runs this season.
"Our guys battled, kept coming back, but it wasn't easy," Piniella said. "It really wasn't one of our better games, but it's in the win column and give these guys credit for really staying after it."
And in a season they keep hearing about 1908, the last time they won the World Series, the Cubs flashed back to the season before, 1907 -- the last time until now they won nine consecutive series. They assured themselves of doing that by scoring 26 runs to take the first two games of the three-game series in Pittsburgh.
The Cubs are 13-4 against the Pirates, who lost their season high-tying sixth in a row and 10th in 12 games.
Derrek Lee added two RBI and Soriano had three hits despite making a second potentially costly defensive gaffe in PNC Park this season.
Soriano fumbled Adam LaRoche's easy fly ball to put two on with no outs in the seventh, and Doug Mientkiewicz followed one batter later with his first triple in more than two years to put the Pirates up 8-7. Soriano's dropped fly that he lost in the sun with two outs in the ninth with the Cubs ahead led to a 6-5 Pirates victory in 11 innings on May 25.
"I don't know what happened, but maybe I have to have more concentration so it doesn't happen again," said Soriano, who can remember no other drops since moving from the infield to left field several seasons ago.
Soriano helped make up for his latest dropped fly with a single off Hansen immediately after Mike Fontenot singled off John Grabow to start the eighth. Hansen didn't retire any of the four batters he faced, throwing only six of 18 pitches for strikes.
Sean Marshall (3-3) pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the victory.
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano got another hit, his 13th consecutive start with at least one, and drove in a run for his eighth start in a row but couldn't beat the Pirates as usual. He was 6-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 11 starts in PNC Park, only to leave after falling behind 3-0 in the first while giving up eight hits and six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Cubs, winners of 17 of 23 in August to open a five-game lead on Milwaukee in the NL Central, came back to take a 5-3 lead with a four-run fourth in which Pirates starter Ian Snell walked two and Mark DeRosa singled ahead of Soto's three-run, opposite-field double to right. DeRosa added an RBI double in the fifth for his 78th RBI.
"We did some things offensively but, obviously, we didn't pitch very well," manager John Russell said after the Pirates walked nine, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.
Snell, coming off a season-best seven shutout innings Aug. 19 in a 4-1 victory at St. Louis, threw 96 pitches while allowing five runs and five hits in four innings. The Pirates are 7-17 since trading their best offensive player, Jason Bay, on July 31 -- a week after dealing productive outfielder Xavier Nady.
"We made some bonehead mistakes," Snell said. "But this team is leaving everything it has on the field. ... We got rid of some good players and it's hurt us. But people need to get over that."
|Geovany Soto has 78 RBI as a rookie catcher, 18 of which have come against the Pirates. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Alfonso Soriano, LF||6||2||3||0||0||0||3||.291|
|Ryan Theriot, SS||4||1||0||0||2||1||3||.314|
|Derrek Lee, 1B||5||2||1||2||1||2||3||.293|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||4||1||0||1||2||1||3||.285|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||2||1||0||0||1||1||3||.235|
|a- Reed Johnson, PH-CF||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||.314|
|Mark DeRosa, 2B||3||1||2||1||0||1||0||.289|
|Neal Cotts, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Gaudin, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Ronny Cedeno, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.277|
|Sean Marshall, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.375|
|c- Henry Blanco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||3||.287|
|Carlos Marmol, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kerry Wood, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kosuke Fukudome, RF||3||1||0||0||2||1||6||.266|
|Geovany Soto, C||5||3||3||7||0||0||3||.285|
|Carlos Zambrano, P||2||0||1||1||0||0||1||.365|
|Jeff Samardzija, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Fontenot, 2B||2||1||2||1||0||0||0||.291|
|a-walked for Edmonds in the 7th|
|b-hit into fielder's choice-bunting for Gaudin in the 7th|
|c-flied out for Marshall in the 8th|
|2B - Alfonso Soriano (22, Snell), Mark DeRosa (25, D. Bautista), Geovany Soto 2 (31, Snell, Burnett), Mike Fontenot (19, Burnett)|
|HR - Geovany Soto (20, Yates)|
|RBI - Derrek Lee 2 (77), Aramis Ramirez (95), Reed Johnson (46), Mark DeRosa (78), Geovany Soto 7 (78), Carlos Zambrano (14), Mike Fontenot (32)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mark DeRosa (21), Geovany Soto 3 (20), Mike Fontenot (11)|
|SB - Derrek Lee (8, 2nd base off D. Bautista/Doumit)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Kosuke Fukudome 1|
|PB - Geovany Soto (5)|
|E - Aramis Ramirez (12, Misplayed grounder), Alfonso Soriano (4, Dropped fly), Carlos Zambrano (3, Throwing)|
|Sean Marshall (W,3-3)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||3.60|
|IBB - F. Sanchez by Neal Cotts|
|WP - Carlos Zambrano (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 98-57, Jeff Samardzija 5-4, Neal Cotts 17-8, Chad Gaudin 7-5, Sean Marshall 9-7, Carlos Marmol 11-10, Kerry Wood 25-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 4-7, Jeff Samardzija 1-0, Neal Cotts 2-1, Sean Marshall 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 26, Jeff Samardzija 2, Neal Cotts 6, Chad Gaudin 2, Sean Marshall 3, Carlos Marmol 3, Kerry Wood 6|
|Nyjer Morgan, LF||5||1||3||0||1||1||1||.250|
|Nate McLouth, CF||5||1||0||0||1||1||6||.274|
|Ryan Doumit, C||5||1||2||1||1||2||4||.328|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||5||2||1||2||0||1||3||.268|
|Brandon Moss, RF||5||0||2||0||0||1||0||.270|
|Doug Mientkiewicz, 3B||5||1||2||2||0||1||3||.282|
|Freddy Sanchez, 2B||3||2||2||1||2||0||0||.256|
|Jack Wilson, SS||5||0||2||2||0||0||5||.277|
|Ian Snell, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.143|
|a- Luis Rivas, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.229|
|Denny Bautista, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|b- Jason Michaels, PH||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||.230|
|Tyler Yates, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Andy LaRoche, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.163|
|John Grabow, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Craig Hansen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Sean Burnett, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Matt Capps, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Chris Gomez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.287|
|a-singled for Snell in the 4th|
|b-hit into fielder's choice for D. Bautista in the 5th|
|c-struck out for Yates in the 6th|
|d-struck out for Capps in the 9th|
|2B - Adam LaRoche (22, Zambrano), Freddy Sanchez (23, Wood), Jack Wilson 2 (18, Zambrano, Wood)|
|3B - Doug Mientkiewicz (1, Cotts)|
|RBI - Ryan Doumit (51), Adam LaRoche 2 (59), Doug Mientkiewicz 2 (28), Freddy Sanchez (47), Jack Wilson 2 (21), Jason Michaels (46)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Doumit (18), Freddy Sanchez (22)|
|SB - Nyjer Morgan (4, 2nd base off Zambrano/Soto), Luis Rivas (3, 2nd base off Zambrano/Soto)|
|CS - Nyjer Morgan (4, 2nd base by Marshall/Soto)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - J. Wilson-F. Sanchez-LaRoche|
|John Grabow (H,11)||1||1||1||1||2||0||0||3.09|
|Craig Hansen (BS,3; L,1-5)||0||1||4||4||3||0||0||6.20|
|HBP - Fontenot (by Tyler Yates)|
|WP - Denny Bautista (3), John Grabow (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 95-59, Denny Bautista 18-11, Tyler Yates 18-11, John Grabow 27-13, Craig Hansen 18-6, Sean Burnett 18-12, Matt Capps 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 3-6, Denny Bautista 1-0, Tyler Yates 1-2, John Grabow 2-1, Sean Burnett 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Ian Snell 20, Denny Bautista 5, Tyler Yates 5, John Grabow 6, Craig Hansen 4, Sean Burnett 6, Matt Capps 3|
|Attendance - 17929|
|Game Time - 3:59|
|Temperature - 77|
|Umpires - Home - Adrian Johnson, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Jim Joyce, Third Base - Jeff Nelson|