Pirates' Duke blanks Cubs for first career shutout

CHICAGO (AP) -- Zach Duke's been in the major leagues for a total

of four months. To the Chicago Cubs, it seems like he's been

pitching and beating them forever.

Duke did it again Tuesday and he was better than ever against

the team he's dominated four times in as many starts.

This time, he pitched a five-hitter for his first major league

shutout and complete game in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 8-0 victory

over the Cubs.

"It just seems like every time I face them I'm on top of my

game," Duke said.

That's putting it mildly.

Duke (2-2) is now 2-0 this season against the Cubs. He also was

2-0 against Chicago a year ago as a rookie, beating Greg Maddux

twice at Wrigley Field. In 32 career innings against the Cubs, he's

given up just two earned runs (0.56 ERA). And in 25 innings at

Wrigley Field, he's yielded one earned run (0.36).

"So far it's been pretty good to me. It's such a fun place to

play," Duke said of the Cubs' cozy neighborhood park. "It's just

a good place as a baseball player to come."

Duke now has a 10-4 career record, four of those wins against

the Cubs, who have trouble with his assortment of lefty pitches.

"I don't know how he does against the rest of the league, but

he's done well against us," said Todd Walker, who had two hits for

the Cubs.

"He throws that little cutter on the corner against lefties.

... He's a Greg Maddux type. He locates well and changes speed."

And he doesn't give away bases. Duke, just 23 and in his 20th

major league start, walked one, struck out two and was backed by a

pair of double plays.

"He throws a lot of strikes," Chicago's Juan Pierre said.

"And the pitches we did get to hit, we didn't do anything with


Jeromy Burnitz homered against his former team, and Freddy

Sanchez had three hits and three RBI after being moved to the

third spot in the batting order as the Pirates earned a split in

the two-game series at Wrigley Field.

Burnitz batted .258 with 24 homers and 87 RBI last season -- his

only one with the Cubs -- but the team decided not to pick up his $7

million option and instead signed Jacque Jones to play right field.

Burnitz gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead when he hit a two-run homer

in the third off Chicago rookie Angel Guzman (0-1), who struggled

with his control in his second major league start. Guzman went 5

2-3 innings, allowing six hits and six runs -- four earned.

"Any time we get an outburst, it's a relief for us," Burnitz

said. "We've had a rough go of it this first month."

Guzman had a rookie's nightmare in the first inning: two walks,

a hit batsman, a stolen base and a wild pitch that helped the

Pirates take a 2-0 lead -- just the fourth time all season

Pittsburgh has scored in the opening inning.

Guzman plunked leadoff hitter Chris Duffy, who stole second and

scored on a double by Sanchez, who entered the game with five RBI.

Jason Bay walked and after a fielder's choice put runners at first

and third, Guzman threw a wild pitch to allow Sanchez to score.

The Pirates made it 6-0 with four in the sixth. Ronny Paulino

and Jose Castillo singled and after a sacrifice, the first run

scored when Chicago reliever Roberto Novoa fumbled Duffy's slow

roller for an error. Jack Wilson then followed with an RBI single

and stole second before Sanchez delivered a two-run single,

prompting loud booing.

A couple of runs would have been enough for Duke.

"The thing that is so impressive about this young man is his

know-how and the moxie and the command and the poise for a kid that

just turned 23 years of age," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.

Game notes
The Pirates broke a seven-game road losing streak.

Pittsburgh is 2-13 overall away from PNC Park. ... Pittsburgh sent

infielder Mike Edwards to Triple-A Indianapolis after the game and

called up catcher Ryan Doumit. Doumit was on a rehab assignment at

Indianapolis with a left hamstring strain and will join the team in

New York. ... The Cubs continue to struggle offensively after

losing Derek Lee with two broken bones in his wrist. Lee went on

the disabled list on April 21. The Cubs have batted .214 since that

date. Manager Dusty Baker said general manager Jim Hendry is

looking for ways to add more offense. The Cubs are 3-7 against

lefty starters this season and batting .192 as a team against

southpaws. ... Pirates INF Joe Randa had an MRI and it revealed a

bone bruise on his right foot after he fouled a ball off it April

18. He will also join the team in New York on Wednesday.