Montreal (57-80) at Chicago (74-60)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL, US
Temp: 24° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Sep 7, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Chicago manager Dusty Baker is hoping some unexpected rest has given his team a boost for the stretch run toward the playoffs.

The Cubs will try to maintain their slim lead in the NL wild-card race as they continue a three-game series with the Montreal Expos at Wrigley Field.

Chicago has a half-game lead over the Giants for the wild card with Houston, Florida and San Diego all within four games.

Aramis Ramirez hit a pair of two-run homers and Carlos Zambrano allowed four hits in eight innings to lead the Cubs to a 9-1 victory over the Expos on Monday.

Mark Grudzielanek, Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett also homered for Chicago, which played its first game since Wednesday’s 2-1 extra-inning victory at Montreal. The Cubs had their weekend series at Florida postponed because of Hurricane Frances.

“It’s kind of frustrating, but we will still have to play those games, too,” Ramirez said. “There is going to be a time when we are playing and they will be off and we have to take advantage of that, too.”

Zambrano gave up one run, struck out five and walked one Monday to match his career high with 13 wins.

Baker is hoping that the Cubs’ other four starters—Matt Clement, Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior—also have success after the extra four days off.

“You just hope they are as sharp as Carlos was today,” Baker said. “Strength is one thing, sharpness is something else.”

Ramirez took advantage off the long weekend to rest his sore left groin, which has been bothering him since July.

“I feel a lot better. I’m not a 100 percent, but the four days off really helped my groin,” he said.

The Expos have lost four of their last five games. Monday’s defeat opened a season-high 14-game road trip for Montreal.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Kim SF vs. M. Clement TOR
4-6 Record 9-13
4.58 ERA 3.68
87 K 190
55 BB 77
1.47 WHIP 1.28