CHICAGO -- For the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, it was flying practice. For the Chicago Cubs, batting practice.
Pilots prepared for the weekend's Chicago Air & Water Show by zipping their loud jets tantalizingly close to Wrigley Field's upper deck during Friday's second inning. The Cubs, meanwhile, were making noise with their bats.
"It was cool to watch, but it's hard to hit when you're expecting some bomber to fly over your head," Derrek Lee said. "It was a little distracting."
Apparently, not too distracting to the Cubs. They scored 10 runs in their first double-digit inning in more than five years en route to a 17-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And the flyovers sure didn't seem to complicate things for Lee, whose seven RBIs matched the career high he had set July 2 against Milwaukee. He had a two-run double and a bases-loaded walk in the big inning to go with an RBI single in the first and a three-run double in the fourth before coming out of the game.
Lee said that when he pulled into second base in the second inning, "they were saying, 'Uncle! It's too hot for us to be out there this long!' It was fun. I think this team needed it. We had some built-up frustration the way the Phillies beat on us for three days."
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak. The Cubs also had lost seven of eight to fall 4 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.
Kosuke Fukudome hit a three-run homer in the first for the Cubs, who last scored 14 runs in the first two innings of a game on June 7, 1906 -- 10 years before they moved into Wrigley Field.
The Cubs sent 15 batters to the plate in the second, when every starter scored at least once. Winning pitcher Randy Wells walked, singled, drove in a run and scored twice in the inning.
Wells (9-5) later added a double and also held the Pirates to two runs over six innings.
"I was lucky that the camera wasn't on me when I walked because I jumped pretty high," Wells said, referring to the jets that flew overhead at that moment. "That scared me a little. But it just added to the excitement, the buzz around the ballpark. The crowd was great. It just felt a little different than it has."
Pirates starter Charlie Morton played down the impact of the flyovers.
"Everyone out there had to play through it, so I'm not looking at it as anything that affected my performance," he said. "I just didn't do anything right."
Morton (2-6) gave up 10 runs in one-plus inning before getting relieved by Chris Bootcheck, who allowed seven more runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The last-place Pirates hadn't allowed as many runs since losing 19-4 to St. Louis on May 20, 2000. They last surrendered 10 runs in an inning on Sept. 7, 2008, at San Francisco.
Pittsburgh has lost 11 of 12 and has dropped its last three games by the scores of 8-0, 10-1 and 17-2.
"Just embarrassing," Morton said.
After averaging 3.4 runs over their previous eight games, the Cubs had their highest-scoring game since beating Milwaukee 19-5 on April 30, 2008. It was their largest winning margin since they beat the Dodgers 20-1 in 2001.
"Our guys swung it," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "It was good to see us score runs and win."
The game began a stretch in which the Cubs will play 28 of 33 games against teams with losing records. They are 40-22 against such clubs, 19-33 against teams playing better than .500 ball.
Cubs LHP Tom Gorzelanny, whose foot was injured when struck by a hard grounder last week, said he was ready to start Saturday's game against the Pirates, his former team. ... The crowd of 41,619 was the Cubs' largest this season. ... Wells is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA against NL Central teams. ... Piniella said he would split playing time between catchers Koyie Hill and 2008 NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto. The Cubs are 29-19 when Hill starts. ... Slumping Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano had an RBI single in the second but was booed after he struck out later in the inning. ... Fukudome's 10th homer matched his total from last season, when he was a rookie.
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