Series: Game 3 of 4

Pittsburgh leads 2-1 (as of 9/20)

Game 1: Friday, September 19
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Game 2: Friday, September 19
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Game 3: Saturday, September 20
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Game 4: Sunday, September 21
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Cubs 2

(83-72, 41-36 away)

Pirates 8

(73-82, 39-41 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 20, 2003

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    CHC 001000010 2 7 1
    PIT 00150020 - 8 10 3

    W: R. Vogelsong (2-1)

    L: M. Clement (13-12)

    Rookie Vogelsong hurls seven dominant innings

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Rookie Ryan Vogelsong allowed only an unearned run over seven dominant innings, and the Pittsburgh Pirates stalled the Chicago Cubs' run at the playoffs by winning 8-2 Saturday night.

    The costly loss, their second in a row to the non-contending Pirates, kept the Cubs from closing within a half-game of the NL Central lead. The Astros stayed 1{ games up despite losing 3-2 to St. Louis in 13 innings. Houston has eight games to play, and the Cubs seven.

    The Cubs seemingly had the easiest path to the postseason among the NL teams still in contention, with seven games against the Pirates and three against the Reds. But they have dropped two of three this weekend at PNC Park as their usually steady starting pitching has deserted them.

    Matt Clement (13-12), trying for a career-high 14th victory, was in command early until suddenly losing his control in the Pirates' five-run fourth. Clement walked Matt Stairs and Jason Bay before hitting Carlos Rivera with a pitch to load the bases.

    Abraham Nunez's infield single drove in the go-ahead run, and ex-Cubs infielder Jose Hernandez -- recently stuck in an 0-for-26 streak -- singled in two more runs. Vogelsong, with only one hit in 13 career at-bats, singled to load the bases again, and Tike Redman's single between off reliever Mark Guthrie scored two more runs.

    Clement's meltdown was reminiscent of a Sept. 10 game against Montreal, when he didn't allow a hit in five innings but walked five and gave up three runs.

    The Pirates' first seven batters reached in the fourth, although only two batters hit the ball beyond the infield. Rivera, also a rookie, added a two-run homer in the seventh against Antonio Alfonseca.

    Vogelsong (2-1) won his second straight following six consecutive losses to begin his career. The right-hander, who needed reconstructive elbow surgery shortly after being acquired from the Giants two years ago in the Jason Schmidt trade, allowed five hits while striking out eight and walking one. Sammy Sosa struck out four straight times, three against Vogelsong.

    The Cubs lost for the second time in a week while failing to solve a rookie starting pitcher. They lost 1-0 Sunday as Reds rookie Josh Hall pitched seven shutout innings.

    Vogelsong hasn't allowed an earned run over 12 innings in his last two starts, shutting out the Reds for five innings in a 6-3 victory Monday.

    The Pirates have won eight of 11 and are 31-30 since dealing away many of their key regulars and pitchers in July, including the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez, Randall Simon and Kenny Lofton, and Boston's Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck. They later dealt their best player, outfielder Brian Giles.

    Game notes

    Pirates batting coach Gerald Perry was ejected by plate umpire Joe Brinkman, apparently for disputing ball-strike calls with Bay and Rivera batting. It was Perry's second ejection this season. ... The Cubs had won four of five and six of eight. ... Nunez went 3-for-4. ... Sosa also struck out against Mike Lincoln in the eighth.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press