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Cubs take three of four as Lee, Ramirez and Burnitz homer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Carlos Zambrano gave the Chicago Cubs eight
strong innings and one reason to laugh.

Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit solo home runs to back
Zambrano, and the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 Sunday.

Zambrano (7-4) allowed one unearned run and five hits while
throwing 95 pitches. He struck out four, walked four and drove in
two runs with a double.

"He threw the ball great today," Cubs manager Dusty Baker
said. "He minimized his pitches, probably the lowest pitch count
he had in a long time, and we gave him a lot of offensive
support."

The 255-pound right-hander also provided a comic moment in the
fifth, when he tried to stop Matt Lawton's line drive with his
right hand. After knocking the ball down, Zambrano tried to flip
the ball between his two legs to Lee at first base, but in the
process lost his footing and did a somersault on the grass.

Zambrano met with a trainer but stayed in the game.

"I was just laughing. It was funny to watch," Lee said. "For
a guy to be that big and so athletic it was fun to watch."

Zambrano knew he should have reacted differently.

"I should have saved that ball and I almost threw the ball in
the stands," he said. "That's a game situation, you don't have
too much time to think."

Ramirez had three hits for the Cubs, who took three of four from
the Pirates and have won six of their last seven games.

"We are kind of clicking on the same page," Lee said. "For a
while there we would get good pitching and wouldn't hit, or hit and
not get good pitching. But right now we are on the same page and
playing great baseball."

Lee's homer was his 28th, breaking a tie with Atlanta's Andruw
Jones for the NL lead. Jeromy Burnitz had three of Chicago's 15
hits and also homered.

The Cubs led 1-0 after Lee's homer in the first off Kip Wells
(6-10) before sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five runs in
the third.

With one out, Wells gave up consecutive singles to Todd Walker,
Lee, Burnitz and Ramirez, making it 3-0.

Michael Barrett added an RBI single later in the inning and
Zambrano hit a two-run double to make it 6-0 and chase Wells.

Burnitz hit his 15th homer off Brian Meadows in the fourth
inning. Ramirez led off the seventh with a drive onto Waveland Ave.
off John Grabow for his 21st homer, making it 8-1.

Wells has dropped six of his last seven decisions. He only
lasted 2 2-3 innings and gave up six runs and nine hits.

"He just seemed to struggle and never really established his
fastball," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "They hit quite
a few breaking balls in the third inning. Not a good outing with 68
pitches in 2 2-3 innings and 37 pitches in the third inning. That's
just not good and won't help you win ballgames."

The Pirates scored an unearned run in the fourth inning. After
Lee committed his fourth error of the season, Jason Bay scored on
Jose Castillo's fielder's choice.

The Pirates struggled during the series while seeing Mark Prior,
Kerry Wood and Greg Maddux before facing Zambrano on Sunday.

"Any time you face the Cubs, they have four aces to throw at
you," Lawton said. "We knew it was going to be tough, but you
kind of want to play better than we played.

"It's not going to get any easier with the Astros coming in.
It's been pretty ugly for a long time and we just need to find a
way to have fun out there."

Game notes
Lee is just four homers shy of his career high. ... The
Pirates have lost four of their last five games. ... Pittsburgh
placed OF Craig Wilson on the DL with a fractured left hand. ...
Walker extended his hitting streak to 10 games.