Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 4/14)

Game 1: Monday, April 12
Chi Cubs2
Game 2: Wednesday, April 14
Chi Cubs8
Game 3: Thursday, April 15
Chi Cubs10

Pirates 3

(4-4, 2-3 away)

Cubs 8

(4-4, 1-1 home)

    2:20 PM ET, April 14, 2004

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 000000300 3 6 1
    CHC 12410000 - 8 12 2

    W: M. Clement (1-1)

    L: R. Vogelsong (1-1)

    Ramirez homers twice, Walker plates three

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Signing Todd Walker already is paying off for the Chicago Cubs.

    Filling in while Mark Grudzielanek is on the disabled list with a partially torn Achilles' tendon, Walker went 3-for-5 with three RBI on Wednesday to lead the Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-3.

    "He had some big hits," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He started us off early."

    The rest of the Cubs quickly fell in line. Aramis Ramirez homered twice, and Matt Clement scattered two hits for the Cubs, who got their first win at Wrigley Field this year.

    Raul Mondesi spoiled Chicago's shutout bid with a three-run homer in the seventh off Kyle Farnsworth.

    Walker has been an everyday player his entire career, but he passed on some starting jobs to sign with the Cubs in the offseason because he wanted a chance to win. He knew he'd play -- Baker has always made liberal use of his bench -- he just didn't know how much.

    "You certainly don't wish injuries on anybody," Walker said. "But you figure when you come over in the National League, you're going to get your at-bats. I didn't have any fears of rotting on the bench."

    Less than two weeks into the season, Walker found himself in the starting lineup. And he took advantage right away, leading off the first inning with a first-pitch double off Ryan Vogelsong (1-1).

    Two batters later, Sammy Sosa drove Walker home and the Cubs were rolling. After not allowing an earned run in their previous 13 innings, the Pirates pitchers gave up eight in the first four innings.

    The Cubs chased Vogelsong in the third when they batted around and scored four runs -- including back-to-back homers onto Waveland Avenue by Moises Alou and Ramirez. Vogelsong looked as if he might get out of the inning when he struck out Alex Gonzalez for the second out and intentionally walked Michael Barrett to get to Clement. But the move backfired when Clement singled to short to load the bases.

    Walker then came through again, hitting a two-run single to give Chicago a 7-0 lead.

    "I thought I had pretty good stuff," said Vogelsong, who allowed 10 hits and seven runs in three innings, striking out five and walking two. "They hit everything I threw up there. It didn't matter if it was a good pitch or a bad pitch.

    Ramirez, traded to the Cubs from the Pirates last July, made it 8-0 with his second homer, a shot to left on a 2-2 pitch in the fourth. It's the eighth multihomer game of Ramirez's career.

    His most recent multihomer game? Last Sept. 21 against the Pirates.

    "That's fine with me. He can get two more tomorrow if he wants," Baker said when asked about Ramirez's success against his old team.

    The run support made Clement's job a little easier. Clement (1-1) has been struggling with his location, not going longer than five innings in his first start or his six Cactus League outings. And he still doesn't have everything figured out, issuing three walks and hitting one batter in six innings. But he appears to be getting closer to the pitcher who won 14 games last year.

    After giving up singles to Tike Redman and Jason Kendall in the first inning, Clement didn't allow another hit. He also struck out seven.

    He got in trouble in the third inning when he walked Kendall and Rob Mackowiak to load the bases with two outs. But he struck out Craig Wilson to end the threat.

    "I flat-out swung at bad pitches," Wilson said. "If I take those, it's a different game. One nonswing of the bat would have got us back in the game."

    Instead, Clement retired eight of his last nine batters before leaving the game.

    "We shot ourselves in the foot time and again," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We had (Clement) on the ropes. We just didn't get the hits. Then we let him off the ropes and he'd make a quality pitch. We all know he can be pretty tough. When he had to be tough today, he was."

    Game notes

    This was the second time already this season the Cubs had back-to-back home runs. Alex Gonzalez and Alou had consecutive home runs in the ninth inning at Atlanta on Sunday. ... Actors Matt Damon and Andy Garcia were at the game, watching from the new seats next to the Cubs' dugout. ... The Cubs optioned LHP Andy Pratt to Triple-A Iowa before the game and recalled RHP Francis Beltran. Pratt, acquired from the Braves on March 25, had a 21.60 ERA in four games for the Cubs.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press