DENVER (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs are in a critical stretch in
which they face several other wild-card contenders, and they're
showing manager Dusty Baker the kind of fight he wants to see.
Aramis Ramirez hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the top of the
eighth after Nomar Garciaparra tied it on Shawn Chacon's wild pitch
moments earlier, and the Cubs rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies
11-8 Wednesday night.
It was a wild one at Coors Field, where the lead changed three
times in the final three innings -- twice on home runs.
"It's great to see a late-inning win like that," Baker said.
"You want late-inning scoring here. You don't want to give them
too much time to come back."
After pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney hit a go-ahead two-run homer in
the seventh for Colorado, Ramirez hit a solo homer to make it 7-6.
Todd Walker added a two-run homer two batters later for the Cubs,
who used 15 hits to win their third straight game and fifth of six.
Sweeney's second pinch-hit homer this year and eighth of his
career caused a wild celebration by the Rockies' dugout, which only
a half-inning earlier saw Sammy Sosa help steal their lead with a
three-run homer and the ejections of reliever Scott Dohmann and
manager Clint Hurdle.
Kyle Farnsworth (4-3) pitched 1-3 of an inning for the win.
Chacon (1-7) threw a wild pitch during Ramirez's at-bat that rolled
to the backstop.
The Cubs, who are playing 12 straight against the NL West, know
they need wins such as this one to keep pace in the wild-card race
and gain ground on first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.
Sosa tied it when he hit a 1-0 pitch from Dohmann an estimated
437 feet into the left-field bleachers for his 24th homer of the
season. The homer gave him 563 for his career and tied him for
eighth on the all-time list with Reggie Jackson.
"I'm just trying to do my job," Sosa said of the
momentum-turning hit. "It's an honor to tie Reggie Jackson. I
never would have thought I'd tie him."
Moments after Sosa's shot, Dohmann and Hurdle were tossed after
the right-hander threw a high inside pitch to Ramirez. The pitch
did not hit Ramirez, but plate umpire Dan Iassogna tossed Dohmann
immediately although he hadn't issued an earlier warning.
An enraged Hurdle stormed out of the dugout and argued briefly
before sending Steve Reed in to pitch and making a visit to the
mound. Hurdle then began arguing again with Iassogna and had to be
restrained by crew chief Charlie Reliford.
"I judged that he threw the ball intentionally at Ramirez, so I
ejected him from the game," Iassogna said. "There was no warning.
I can look at the situation where it's a pitch after a home run -- a
big home run -- and it's thrown right at the batter. And that's what
I used to make my decision."
"I wasn't trying to hit the guy," Dohmann said. "It was a tie
ballgame at Coors Field in the seventh inning. I guess because it
came right after a home run it looked suspicious, but it was
ridiculous. We were trying to pitch to him. We went down and away
with a quality fastball, and then we tried to come inside and it
was a ball, but it was too close for his comfort I guess."
The Cubs matched their season high by moving 11 games over .500
(59-48), which they also did July 4.
Zambrano failed to get a decision for the first time in eight
starts and wasn't nearly as sharp as his last outing against
Colorado. The right-hander pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout
of the Rockies on May 7 at Wrigley Field, finishing with five
strikeouts and no walks the 11-0 win.
Johnson added a solo homer in the eighth.
In the ninth, the Cubs added two unearned runs -- one on
Garciaparra's sacrifice fly and the other on Johnson's second
run-scoring passed ball of the night. Pitcher Allan Simpson had a
throwing error in the inning.
Baker has been staying up late working on his lineups since
Garciaparra joined the Cubs on Saturday. "I have 14 different
lineup scenarios," Baker said. "I'm going to go with this one for
a while." Garciaparra is currently batting second. ... Rockies LHP
Joe Kennedy (sore shoulder) will make another rehab start Thursday
at Colorado Springs. The Rockies want him to throw over 90 pitches
and work into the seventh. ... Garciaparra stole his first base as
a member of the Cubs in the third.