PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs, well back in the NL Central
race with only one-third of the season gone, had lost a game like
this only four days before. They knew they couldn't possibly lose
Mark Bellhorn hit his first grand slam and Alex Gonzalez
followed with a solo shot in a five-run third inning as the Cubs
opened a seven-run lead, then held on to beat the Pittsburgh
Pirates 9-8 on Thursday
Chris Stynes added a two-run homer as the Cubs won their eighth
in 12 games despite Kerry Wood's worst effort in six starts. Wood
allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings after giving up
four or fewer hits in each of his previous five starts.
Until Antonio Alfonseca got all three batters he faced in the
ninth inning for his eighth save, the game was fast resembling the
Cubs' 7-5 loss Sunday in Houston. Then, manager Don Baylor lifted
starter Jason Bere with a five-run lead, only to watch the Astros
rally to win 7-5.
"I think we should be going home 6-1,'' Wood said of a 4-3 road
trip that also included an extra-inning loss Monday in Pittsburgh.
"We lost some games we shouldn't have lost. Those games hurt. We
need to put away the games we should.''
Despite his roughest outing since giving up five runs in 5 1/3
innings in a 10-0 loss to the Dodgers on April 26, Wood (6-3) beat
the Pirates for the first time in eight career starts. He was 0-3
with a 5.53 ERA against them.
"When someone hits a grand slam, it's more of a relaxed feeling
when you go out the next inning,'' Wood said. "But I should have
gone out and gone after guys. It shouldn't have been that close.''
Jimmy Anderson (4-7) was 3-0 against the Cubs, but left after
making his second successive rough start, allowing seven runs, six
earned, and five hits in three innings. Since pitching seven
shutout innings against the Cubs on May 21, he has yielded 11
earned runs in 8 1/3 innings in two starts.
Anderson insisted he didn't pitch badly, saying, "I thought I
threw pretty good pitches and kept the ball down. The balls they
hit were down for the most part.''
Catcher Jason Kendall said, "He kept the ball down -- except for
the pitches he got up. A couple of pitches were up and they hit
Anderson's wildness got him into trouble in the Cubs' second
when he walked Bellhorn and hit Bobby Hill with a pitch. Todd
Hundley, just off the disabled list, started the inning with a
double, and Gonzalez had an RBI double ahead of Wood's run-scoring
Kendall felt he tagged out a slow-starting Hundley at the plate
on Gonzalez's double, but TV replays appeared to show Kendall
swiping at the runner and missing.
The Cubs' big third inning also started with a walk, to Sammy
Sosa, and was helped by third baseman Rob Mackowiak's error on
Hundley's grounder. Bellhorn's one-out homer was his fifth, and
Gonzalez's solo drive was his fourth.
"I haven't played in five or six days, but I got to start and
I'm happy to contribute,'' Bellhorn said. "I was just trying to
get a fly ball and get the run home from third.''
Brian Giles ran his hitting streak to 12 games with his 13th
homer in the seventh, cutting the Cubs' lead to 9-6. Giles is
20-for-40 (.500) during his streak.
A double error on reliever Juan Cruz for mishandling and
throwing away Brown's grounder led to two Pirates runs in the
Thirteen of the Cubs' 52 games have been against the
Pirates, but the teams don't meet again until late September. ...
Giles' hitting streak is a career best. ... Kevin Young, who came
into the game hitting .189, went 2-for-3 with two doubles against
Wood and is 9-for-20 against him. ... Both of the switch-hitting
Bellhorn's right-handed homers have been in PNC Park. ... Pirates
manager Lloyd McClendon and Kendall were both ejected in the ninth
for arguing balls and strikes. Kendall, who grounded out to start
the inning, felt a called strike that made the count 2-2 was well
off the plate. ... Anderson has allowed a club-high 11 homers and
has struck out only 20 in 62 2/3 innings. ... The Pirates lost
their 24th in 36 games since a 12-5 start.