PITTSBURGH -- Relegated to the role of spoilers for the third straight season, the Chicago Cubs have at least put a crimp in the Pittsburgh Pirates' playoff hopes, handing them two losses as part of a five-game losing streak.
"It's great to play clubs that are contending," said manager Mike Quade, whose team beat the Pirates 11-5 on Tuesday. "You wish you were one of them. But you know right now you're not," Quade said. "What you have to do is come out and play everyday but there is always a little extra emphasis when you are playing contenders, and especially contenders in your own division. For the time being you're trying to make it hard on all of them."
The Cubs offense did that on Tuesday night, exploding for 21 hits and six home runs. Tyler Colvin, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano all went deep off Pirates starter Kevin Correia, who didn't register an out in the third inning. Correia gave up eight runs and 10 hits in two-plus innings.
Marlon Byrd added the fifth home run in the fourth inning. Soriano followed that with his second of the game. The six home runs were the most the Cubs have hit since September 2006, and the 21 hits were the most since April 4, 2005.
"We swung the bats well tonight," Byrd said. "But it's one of those things where we have to continue to do it consistently. That would be big for us. It can't be a big day today and nothing tomorrow. We have to build on it."
Randy Wells pitched his third strong outing in a row after struggling when he came off the disabled list on May 28 [right forearm strain].
"For me whatever happens, happens," Wells said. "I'm really not trying to put a whole lot of pressure on myself. I personally want to do well and help the team win games. Sometimes you look too deep into 'Is it mechanics, pitch selection?' But really sometimes it's just confidence."
In Wells' last three starts he has given up seven runs in 18 innings, winning two of three decisions.
Before Tuesday's game, Quade said Colvin will get playing time but he would have to earn a regular spot. After two demotions to the minors this season, Colvin had his best game of the year with three hits, including a double and a mammoth home run. The homer, his first since April 12, went 450 feet and landed in the river.
"I might have been trying to do a little too much," Colvin said. "It just took me a little while to just realize I needed to relax and not try to do too much. That's what being sent down did for me. I'm not trying to be a 50-home run guy, just be myself."