Cubs 5, Phillies 1

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PHILADELPHA (AP)—The middle of the Chicago Cubs’ lineup has made things much easier for their manager of late.

Moises Alou, Sammy Sosa and Derrek Lee homered to back Kerry Wood, and the Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

“The guys are starting to swing the bats and it feels good,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “Their confidence levels are rising. It feels good to write almost the same lineup in every day.”

Alou went 2-for-4 and has six homers and 13 RBIs in his last nine games. Lee’s homer was his fifth in nine games, and his fifth in 31 at-bats against Brett Myers (5-8).

Sosa hit a two-run drive in the eighth off Ryan Madson, a 445-foot shot to center that ended the pitcher’s scoreless streak at 21 innings.

Sosa, Alou and Lee—the Nos. 3-4-5 hitters—combined to go 5-for-11 with four runs scored.

“It was a close game until Sammy went deep,” Alou said. “You have to pitch well in this park because it’s kind of small.”

Wood (5-3) improved to 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA since returning from nearly two months on the disabled list caused by a strained right triceps. He opened by allowing Jimmy Rollins’ triple, Placido Polanco’s RBI single and Bobby Abreu’s walk, but then pitched shutout ball through the sixth. He gave up five hits, struck out six and walked four.

Wood struck out the side in order in the sixth. Jon Leceister, Mike Remlinger and Kyle Farnsworth combined for two-hit relief.

“It was a little luck and making key pitches in key situations,” Wood said. “I’m not going to say I threw the ball well. I made mistakes that they didn’t take advantage of.”

Myers, winless since June 17, allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. Philadelphia, which has lost nine of 15, dropped out of a first-place tie with Atlanta in the NL East, falling a half-game back.

Phillies first baseman Jim Thome, who leads the majors with 31 homers, missed the game because of tendinitis in his right index finger. Thome, who received an injection after Thursday’s loss to Florida, expects to play Saturday.

Philadelphia closer Billy Wagner will be sidelined through the weekend because of a strained left shoulder. Wagner was examined around game time after experiencing discomfort during a pregame throwing session.

“When you throw as hard as I do, things like that happen,” said Wagner, who threw 1 1-3 innings Wednesday.

Lee’s solo homer in the second and Alou’s two-run drive in the fourth put Chicago ahead 3-0. Alou leads the Cubs with 25 home runs.

“I made one mistake tonight that hurt me,” Myers said of Alou’s homer. “I just tried to keep it close from then on.”

Chase Utley, starting in place of Thome, hit an inning-ending grounder with two on in the third. With runners at second and third in the fifth, Wood ended then inning by striking out Bobby Abreu and retiring Pat Burrell on a flyout.

“The Cubs have as good a starting pitching team as anybody in baseball,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “We had some opportunities against Wood in the first few innings, but we didn’t cash in on them.”


Abreu got his team-high 23rd stolen base in the third inning. He has been caught just once this season. … Rollins hit his fifth triple of the year. The switch-hitter has hit all five left-handed. … Wood threw 101 pitches, eclipsing 100 for the first time since May 5. … Alou has hit safely in his last seven games. Lee has a six-game hitting streak.

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