Walker, Ramirez power Cubs past Pirates to take 2 of 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- If a team wants to get its offense going, PNC
Park is the place to go.

Todd Walker hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Aramis Ramirez added a two-run shot and the Chicago Cubs finished another
successful series in Pittsburgh by defeating the Pirates 7-3

Derrek Lee hit a two-run double that chased starter Ian Snell
(0-1) in a four-run sixth -- Lee's 43rd hit against the Pirates
since 2004, the most by any major league player against another
club in that span.

Lee's success against the Pirates is reflected in the Cubs' 13-2
record in Pittsburgh since May 30, 2004. The Cubs have won 11 of 15
and 21 of 27 against their NL Central rival, and they haven't had a
losing record against Pittsburgh since 2000.

"This is a good ballpark to hit in," said Ramirez, whose
average was in the low .200s before he had a double Saturday and an
RBI single and the homer Sunday. "The wind's not a factor here
like it is at Wrigley Field."

There's something else inviting about Pittsburgh: the home
team's starting pitching staff. After seven games of a 10-game
homestand, the Pirates are allowing opponents an average of 7.3
runs per game.

Snell (0-1) was the latest Pirates starter to be roughed up,
allowing six runs and six hits in five-plus innings. He has yielded
at least five runs in all three of his starts and has a 9.60 ERA on
a starting staff that has a 7.25 ERA through 14 games.

It was obvious Sunday that all this losing -- the Pirates are
4-10 -- and all this opposition scoring is wearing on new manager
Jim Tracy. He was critical of Snell's pitch location, concentration
and focus, saying that being a good pitcher in the minors like
Snell was in no guarantee of success in the majors.

Tracy was unhappy that Snell got ahead of Walker 0-2 in the
count in the first, only to give him a hittable fastball that
Walker hit out of the park. In the sixth, Snell fell behind Lee 3-1
and again left a fastball high in the hitter's zone.

Snell said he made the kind of mistakes young pitchers make, but
an irritated Tracy said that isn't an acceptable excuse.

"He's been told one, two, 200 times in the minor leagues that
when it's 0-2, a ball in the middle of the plate is unacceptable,"
Tracy said. "Against major league lineups, especially a lineup
like this, you have to be able to locate pitches. There has to be a
real understanding of that."

The Cubs won two of three in the weekend series, despite losing
2-1 to Zach Duke on Saturday night. Glendon Rusch (1-2) gave them
an effective start Sunday to beat the Pirates for only the second
time in nine career decisions, taking a two-hit shutout into the
sixth before giving up Craig Wilson's three-run homer.

Wilson's homer was his sixth of the season and fifth in 19
at-bats and Pittsburgh's 13th in seven home games.

But, as usual, the Pirates had fallen behind early as the Cubs
took a 3-0 lead in a span of five batters. Juan Pierre and Ramirez
singled ahead of Walker's first homer, a drive into the right-field

"If we can get them going in the middle of the lineup and get
Juan Pierre on base, we've got a chance to have a lot of stuff
happening," manager Dusty Baker said.

Snell didn't allow a hit over the next four innings, then gave
up singles to Pierre and Freddie Bynum starting the sixth ahead of
Lee's two-run double. Ramirez made it 7-0 with his second homer,
off rookie reliever Matt Capps, who has permitted three homers in
six innings.

"It's real tough, but that's the game," Snell said. "You have
to go through your bumps and bruises before you get going."

Roberto Novoa pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his first
appearance for the Cubs this season, and closer Ryan Dempster
finished in the ninth in a non-save situation.

Game notes
Cubs OF Jacque Jones walked as pinch hitter in the ninth
after missing four games with a sore hamstring. ... Rusch won for
the first time in three starts this season. He gave up homers to
opposing starter Bronson Arroyo of Cincinnati in each of his
previous two starts. ... Pirates batters were 3-of-19 with runners
in scoring position in the series until Wilson homered. Wilson is
15-for-29 with two homers against Rusch. ... The Pirates are 1-7 in
games started by opposing left-handers. ... Pittsburgh hasn't won
consecutive games at home against the Cubs since May 28-29, 2004.

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