Derrek Lee returns, lifts Pirates past Cubs with slam

CHICAGO -- The last time Derrek Lee faced Carlos Marmol, the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman wound up with an injury that kept him out for more than three weeks.

Marmol probably wishes Lee would have missed one more day.

Lee came off the disabled list and hit a go-ahead grand slam off Marmol with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Pittsburgh over the Chicago Cubs 7-5 on Saturday.

"Isn't it amazing? Sometimes in sports, you can't write the script," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The game plays out and gives you stories you never would have written up. He hit it off the guy that threw the pitch that broke his hand. It's dripping with irony."

Lee's shot to left through the rain at Wrigley Field handed Marmol, an ex-teammate, his NL-high ninth blown save. Marmol (2-5) gave up a single and three walks in the inning.

"You go out there and compete," he said. "I tried to do my best and it didn't work out."

Batting cleanup, Lee had three hits and five RBIs in the game, a performance that caught the 14-year veteran by surprise. He had been sidelined since Aug. 10 with a broken bone in his left wrist after getting hit by a pitch from Marmol on Aug. 3.

"The last two days outside, my swing felt terrible. So I was just hoping to make contact today," Lee said. "Turned out to be a good day."

Lee was acquired from Baltimore on July 30 and is 8 for 23 (.348) with three homers, a triple and eight RBIs in six games with Pittsburgh. All those homers and RBIs have come at the expense of the Cubs, the team he played for from 2004 until the trade deadline last season, when he was dealt to Atlanta.

Lee thought he hit the home run ball even better than he did.

"Yeah, I actually thought it was going to go a little further," he said. "It barely made it over."

The game was delayed for 91 minutes in the seventh because of rain, which Marmol suggested might have contributed to his struggles.

"It was a little tough for me," he said. "I don't make excuses, but the mound was a little slippery."

As the teams waited out the rain, Lee was just hoping the Pirates would get another opportunity.

"Sitting there for an hour down by two, don't even know if we're going to get a chance to go back out there," Lee said. "So to load the bases off Marmol, who we all know is hard to hit off of, it's just a good team effort."

Chris Resop (5-4) threw two scoreless innings in relief and Joel Hanrahan got three outs for his 34th save.

Alex Presley had three hits and scored a run for Pittsburgh.

While the Pirates were glad to have Lee back in the lineup, it's hard not to wonder if their once-promising season might not have gone sideways had their new cleanup hitter been healthy.

"What we wanted when we acquired him and what we were looking for in the middle of the lineup played out very well today, and it has been whenever he's been in the lineup," Hurdle said. "For that situation to come his way at the end and for him to put that swing on it, it just speaks to the slow heartbeat he has at the plate."

For his part, Lee doesn't blame Marmol for the injury, even though the Pirates went 8-15 in his absence.

"I'm mad at myself. I put my hand in the way," Lee said. "It would have just hit me in my hip and it would have been not a big deal. I put my hand there for some reason and it cost me a month."

Alfonso Soriano matched his season high with four RBIs for the Cubs, including a two-run double in the seventh. Aramis Ramirez reached base four times and scored three runs, while Carlos Pena reached in all five plate appearances.

Cubs starter Casey Coleman threw six strong innings, allowing six hits and two runs -- one earned -- while striking out six. He entered 0-4 with an 11.44 ERA in six outings at Wrigley Field this season.

Ross Ohlendorf allowed seven hits and three runs in four innings for the Pirates.

"They're a very young team," Lee said. "They're kind of finding their way but they play hard, they play the game the right way. They're learning every day and they're going to continue to get better."

The Cubs stranded runners in each of the first five innings and went 2 for 15 with men in scoring position. They've hit just .176 in those situations since the beginning of August, but Soriano provided some clutch hitting with a sacrifice fly in the third and an RBI single in the fifth.

The Pirates tied it against Kerry Wood in the seventh when former Cub Ronny Cedeno tripled and scored on pinch-hitter Garrett Jones' sacrifice fly.

Game notes
September has been kind to Presley, who had a double and two singles. In three games since the calendar turned, the swift left fielder has gone 8 for 13 with four extra-base hits, two RBIs and four runs scored. ... Andrew McCutchen was in Pittsburgh's starting lineup. He left Friday's game after being hit by a pitch on his left hand in his first at-bat. He has reached base in his last 30 games against the Cubs. ... Resurgent RHP Randy Wells will start for the Cubs in Sunday's series finale. Wells has won his last four starts and is coming off a two-hit shutout of San Francisco. RHP Charlie Morton goes for the Pirates.