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apwire..... Jasy Bay with 8 rbi

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jason Bay had a week's worth of production in one game. It wasn't enough to derail the streaking Chicago Cubs.


Bay homered twice and drove in eight runs, one short of Pittsburgh's record, but the Cubs beat the Pirates 10-9 Friday night in the first game of a doubleheader despite blowing a five-run lead.


``It seems like every game we play turns close, but we still find a way to win,'' Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. ``I just wish they weren't so close.''


Alex Gonzalez, slumping since the All-Star break, homered and drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly as the Cubs temporarily closed within a half-game of NL Central leader Houston. The Astros played at St. Louis.


Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton, dealt by the Pirates to the Cubs in July, combined to drive in five runs during a six-run third that put Chicago up 9-4. Ramirez hit a two-run homer, his 24th, and Lofton had a bases-loaded triple.


The Cubs won their fourth in a row and fifth in six games. They are 14-4 in September.



Bay, a rookie outfielder acquired from the Padres in the trade for Brian Giles, had more RBIs in his first three at-bats than he did previously in his 21-game major league career. He hit a grand slam in the second, a two-run shot in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth, all off Carlos Zambrano.


Bay's eight RBIs were the most by a Pirates player since Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner drove in eight against Brooklyn on June 25, 1950 -- a game started by Dodgers ace Don Newcombe.


``That's as fine a game as I've seen in a long time,'' Baker said.


Bay couldn't remember having such a game, even in Little League.


``Some days you have a feeling that everything slows down and your swing is where it needs to be,'' he said. ``I was going up there with a simple plan, to see a fastball and hit it.''


That's why Baker was annoyed that Zambrano kept throwing him fastballs, saying, ``They say in September you don't know a kid until he hits the breaking ball. ... That's why I let him (Zambrano) face him for a third time. I didn't think he would throw him another fastball.''


If Zambrano hadn't thrown a run-scoring wild pitch just before Bay doubled in the fifth, the rookie might have tied Johnny Rizzo's club record of nine RBIs against St. Louis on May 30, 1939. That performance also came during a doubleheader, but in Game 2.



AP - Sep 19, 7:55 pm EDT

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Bay struck out swinging against reliever Kyle Farnsworth with the bases empty in the seventh to finish 3-for-4. He was two batters away from hitting when the game ended.


Coming into the game, Bay had two homers and six RBIs in 55 career at-bats -- all but eight at-bats with the Pirates. He had one homer and four RBIs in his first 17 games with Pittsburgh.


Bay's big game rallied the Pirates from deficits of 3-0 and 9-4, but couldn't overcome starter Josh Fogg's poor start. The right-hander gave up nine runs and nine hits in 2 1-3 innings after winning four of his previous five decisions.


Zambrano had a better game at the plate than on the mound, with a double in the second ahead of Mark Grudzielanek's RBI single and a single in the third. But he allowed nine runs -- six earned -- and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings.


Gonzalez, who began the game hitting .178 during the second half, got the Cubs started with a two-run homer -- his 19th -- in the second. He later broke the 9-all tie by following two walks and a hit batter with a sacrifice fly off Nelson Figueroa (2-1).


Dave Veres (2-1) got three outs for the victory as five Cubs relievers combined for 4 1-3 shutout innings. Mark Guthrie, Farnsworth and Mike Remlinger followed Veres before Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 35opportunities.

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