Chicago (17-20) at Pittsburgh (17-20)

Fog Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 32° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Wed May 18, 2005
  • TV: CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kip Wells looks to win his fourth straight decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates close out a two-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

Wells got off to a rough start this season, going 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his first three outings. But the 28-year-old right-hander has bounced back nicely in his last five starts, going 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA.

Wells did not get a decision in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Friday, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings. Wells, who walked four, was critical of his performance after failing to protect leads of 2-0 and 3-2.

“I just gave them the chance to get back in it,” he said. “We scored and I give them back a run. We score again and I give them back a run.

Wells’ top priority Wednesday will be shutting down Derrek Lee, who homered twice in the Cubs’ series-opening 4-3 win Tuesday.

Lee’s second homer, a go-ahead two-run shot in the ninth inning, handed Pirates closer Jose Mesa his first blown save of the season.

The Pirates led 3-1 on solo homers by Jason Bay and Rob Mackowiak in the sixth before Lee chased Pittsburgh starter Josh Fogg with a solo drive in the seventh. Lee went 4-for-4 and drove in all four runs with his 11th career multihomer game.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he nearly rested Lee, who was slumping going into the game, because of some advice he received long ago from the late Ted Williams.

“You often go through a tough time after you’re hot for so long, and I contemplated sitting him because Ted Williams said that after a guy’s hot for so long, they get a little fatigued,” Baker said.

Mesa was a major league-best 13-for-13 in save opportunities before Jerry Hairston doubled to start the ninth and scored on Lee’s drive. Lee, who leads the NL with 12 homers, had been 1-of-13 with five strikeouts in his previous three games.

Mesa, who gave up a run for the fourth time in his last five appearances, had converted a club-record 23 consecutive saves. He suffered his second loss in three appearances.

“Nobody had visions of him being perfect all season,” Bay said. “I’d take that anytime again tomorrow, a one-run lead in the ninth and him out there.”

Ryan Dempster, the latest Cubs reliever to try out for the closer’s role, pitched the ninth for his first save as Chicago won for just for fifth time in 15 games and dealt Pittsburgh only its fourth loss in 13.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Rusch Col vs. K. Wells SD
9-8 Record 8-18
4.52 ERA 5.09
111 K 132
53 BB 99
1.57 WHIP 1.57