Cubs 11, Rockies 8

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DENVER (AP)—The Chicago Cubs are in a critical stretch in which they face several other wild-card contenders, and they’re showing manager Dusty Baker the kind of fight he wants to see.

Aramis Ramirez hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the top of the eighth after Nomar Garciaparra tied it on Shawn Chacon’s wild pitch moments earlier, and the Cubs rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies 11-8 Wednesday night.

It was a wild one at Coors Field, where the lead changed three times in the final three innings—twice on home runs.

“It’s great to see a late-inning win like that,” Baker said. “You want late-inning scoring here. You don’t want to give them too much time to come back.”

After pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh for Colorado, Ramirez hit a solo homer to make it 7-6. Todd Walker added a two-run homer two batters later for the Cubs, who used 15 hits to win their third straight game and fifth of six.

Sweeney’s second pinch-hit homer this year and eighth of his career caused a wild celebration by the Rockies’ dugout, which only a half-inning earlier saw Sammy Sosa help steal their lead with a three-run homer and the ejections of reliever Scott Dohmann and manager Clint Hurdle.

Kyle Farnsworth (4-3) pitched 1-3 of an inning for the win. Chacon (1-7) threw a wild pitch during Ramirez’s at-bat that rolled to the backstop.

The Cubs, who are playing 12 straight against the NL West, know they need wins such as this one to keep pace in the wild-card race and gain ground on first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.

Sosa tied it when he hit a 1-0 pitch from Dohmann an estimated 437 feet into the left-field bleachers for his 24th homer of the season. The homer gave him 563 for his career and tied him for eighth on the all-time list with Reggie Jackson.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” Sosa said of the momentum-turning hit. “It’s an honor to tie Reggie Jackson. I never would have thought I’d tie him.”

Moments after Sosa’s shot, Dohmann and Hurdle were tossed after the right-hander threw a high inside pitch to Ramirez. The pitch did not hit Ramirez, but plate umpire Dan Iassogna tossed Dohmann immediately although he hadn’t issued an earlier warning.

An enraged Hurdle stormed out of the dugout and argued briefly before sending Steve Reed in to pitch and making a visit to the mound. Hurdle then began arguing again with Iassogna and had to be restrained by crew chief Charlie Reliford.

“I judged that he threw the ball intentionally at Ramirez, so I ejected him from the game,” Iassogna said. “There was no warning. I can look at the situation where it’s a pitch after a home run—a big home run—and it’s thrown right at the batter. And that’s what I used to make my decision.”

Sosa had been plunked in the left hip area in the third by Rockies starter Jamey Wright, and Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano hit Aaron Miles leading off the bottom of the first.

“I wasn’t trying to hit the guy,” Dohmann said. “It was a tie ballgame at Coors Field in the seventh inning. I guess because it came right after a home run it looked suspicious, but it was ridiculous. We were trying to pitch to him. We went down and away with a quality fastball, and then we tried to come inside and it was a ball, but it was too close for his comfort I guess.”

The Cubs matched their season high by moving 11 games over .500 (59-48), which they also did July 4.

Zambrano failed to get a decision for the first time in eight starts and wasn’t nearly as sharp as his last outing against Colorado. The right-hander pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout of the Rockies on May 7 at Wrigley Field, finishing with five strikeouts and no walks the 11-0 win.

Colorado took a 2-0 lead in the first on Royce Clayton’s run-scoring triple and Vinny Castilla’s RBI groundout.

The Cubs got on the board in the second on Rockies catcher Charles Johnson’s passed ball that rolled to the front of the Chicago dugout, allowing Derrek Lee to score from second.

Johnson added a solo homer in the eighth.

In the ninth, the Cubs added two unearned runs—one on Garciaparra’s sacrifice fly and the other on Johnson’s second run-scoring passed ball of the night. Pitcher Allan Simpson had a throwing error in the inning.

Todd Helton hit his 25th homer leading off the ninth against LaTroy Hawkins.


Baker has been staying up late working on his lineups since Garciaparra joined the Cubs on Saturday. “I have 14 different lineup scenarios,” Baker said. “I’m going to go with this one for a while.” Garciaparra is currently batting second. … Rockies LHP Joe Kennedy (sore shoulder) will make another rehab start Thursday at Colorado Springs. The Rockies want him to throw over 90 pitches and work into the seventh. … Garciaparra stole his first base as a member of the Cubs in the third.

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