Series: Game 3 of 4

Pittsburgh leads 2-1 (as of 5/29)

Game 1: Monday, May 27
Chicago 2Final
in 10
Pittsburgh 3
Game 2: Tuesday, May 28
Chicago 3Final
Pittsburgh 0
Game 3: Wednesday, May 29
Chicago 0Final
Pittsburgh 5
Game 4: Thursday, May 30
Chicago 9Final
Pittsburgh 8

Cubs 0

(20-31, 11-16 away)

Pirates 5

(24-28, 13-14 home)

    7:05 PM ET, May 29, 2002

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    CHC 000000000 0 - -
    PIT 21100100 - 5 - -

    W: K. Wells (8-2)

    L: J. Lieber (3-4)

    Pirates hand Lieber loss for first time

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Kip Wells is giving the Pittsburgh Pirates the kind of starter they haven't had in years: a stopper.

    Kip Wells

    Wells pitched a four-hitter for Pittsburgh's first complete game this season and the Pirates finally solved their Jon Lieber jinx by beating the Chicago Cubs 5-0 Wednesday night.

    Wells (8-2) won his fourth in a row to become the fifth NL pitcher to win eight games, with all but one victory following a Pirates loss. He is only two victories short of his win total a year ago, when he was 10-11 for the White Sox and lost his starting job before being dealt to Pittsburgh.

    "I'm just happy he's progressing the way he is,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That was an outstanding effort. He's using all his pitches, working fast out there and letting his defense work for him.''

    It was the Pirates' first complete game since Bronson Arroyo beat the Mets on Oct. 2 and their first shutout since a combined effort against Cincinnati on April 8.

    The last Pirates pitcher to throw a shutout was Todd Ritchie in a 1-0, one-hit victory against Kansas City on July 13; Ritchie was later dealt for Wells and pitchers Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe.

    Wells doesn't know if he would be having similar success with the White Sox. But he said he has benefitted from the change of scenery, teammates, coaches and leagues.

    "I think I have the talent to do the same thing, but they've given me an opportunity here, and there's a different mindset here and different challenges,'' Wells said. "They've kept telling me here to trust the stuff I've got and throw it over the plate, and maybe I'm finally listening.''

    The right-handed Wells was in control from the start, especially after the Pirates -- losers of six of eight -- opened a 4-0 lead against Lieber, whom they had never beaten.

    "We really never got him (Wells) in trouble at all,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "He went right through the lineup, made pitches and got a lot of early outs. And we gave them too many outs at the beginning.''

    Wells took a one-hitter into the seventh before yielding singles to Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou. He struck out four and walked two to extend the best start by a Pirates pitcher since Jason Schmidt was 8-1 in 1998.

    "It's fun to be an outfielder or an infielder when he's out there, because it's fun to watch what he does,'' shortstop Jack Wilson said. "He throws strikes and hits his spots and works fast and keeps his defense in the game.''

    Lieber (3-4), traded by the Pirates to the Cubs following the 1998 season, had dominated his former team since then, going 7-0 in 10 starts that included a two-hitter and a three-hitter.

    But Lieber was in trouble in nearly every inning, getting no help from a sloppy defense that committed two errors and probably could have been given a couple of others.

    Lieber, a 20-game winner last season, extended his winless streak to six by giving up 12 hits and five runs, three earned, over six innings.

    "Probably the most disappointing part is I felt great and I felt I had a great slider,'' Lieber said. "For me to be successful, I have to be able to locate my fastball and get ahead of guys, and I wasn't able to do that.''

    Since starting 3-0, Lieber is winless since April 25, allowing four or more runs four times in six starts.

    Lieber didn't take long to get into trouble. Chad Hermansen singled off shortstop Alex Gonzalez's glove and third baseman Bill Mueller couldn't handle Abraham Nunez's hard-hit grounder to start the first. Jason Kendall, moved up from sixth to third as McClendon again adjusted the NL's least-productive batting order, then had an RBI single.

    Nunez later scored on a delayed double steal when catcher Joe Girardi threw wildly trying to get Brian Giles at second. Giles was given a stolen base while Nunez scored on the error. Wilson, who had three hits, doubled and scored on Wells' RBI single in the second, and tripled ahead of Gonzalez's error on Nunez's grounder in the sixth. Kevin Young also had a run-scoring single in the third.

    Game notes

    By winning the first two games of the four-game series, the Pirates are assured of at least a split. They had lost nine of their last 10 series. ... Both center fielders made excellent catches. Hermansen made a sliding, stretched-out catch of Fred McGriff's liner in the first, and the Cubs' Corey Patterson ranged far to his right for a backhanded grab of Aramis Ramirez's shot into the gap in the seventh. ... Pirates 2B Abraham Nunez had two hits, making him 9-for-20 against Lieber.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press