Cubs 8, Reds 7
The Cubs (11-10) won the series to move a game ahead of the Reds for second place in the NL Central. Lee was on-deck when Patterson ended it in the ninth with his fifth homer.
“It didn’t really matter who steals the show, as long as we win the show,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “That was great. D-Lee driving in all those runs put us in the position for Corey to do that.”
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.
Lee, traditionally a slow starter, went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and a three-run shot in the seventh that tied the game at 7. Lee’s .430 average, seven homers and 27 RBIs all lead the National League. Before this season, Lee was a career .230 hitter in April with 89 RBIs in 166 games.
“It’s not easy, man,” Lee said. “It’s just one of those times where you’re seeing the ball well and get in a zone. It seems like pitchers make more mistakes and you take advantage of them.”
LaTroy Hawkins (1-1) got the win, striking out two in a perfect ninth.
“I’m glad Hawk got the victory and we finally came all the way back,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve been coming back every game, just not all the way back. I’m glad it ended when it did because I didn’t have much rested pitching left.”
Cincinnati blew a five-run lead and was up 7-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, but Joe Valentine walked Jerry Hairston and gave up a single to Perez leading off the inning. One out later, with the go-ahead run on-deck in Jeromy Burnitz, Valentine threw a 2-0 slider to Lee, who one out to left-center. His 27 RBIs are the most by a Cubs player in April since divisional play began in 1969.
“Burnitz can hit the ball out of the ballpark too,” Reds manager Dave Miley said. “We made some bad pitches to Lee and he made us pay for it.”
Lee hit a two-run drive off starter Aaron Harang onto Waveland Avenue in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Cubs to 6-4.
“I’ve played with him since ’98 and I’ve always said I’ll take him on my team any day,” said Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who was Lee’s teammate with Florida. “It’s pretty cool to see him locked in like he is.”
Felipe Lopez hit his first-career grand slam in the Reds’ five-run third inning for a 6-1 lead.
“I was just trying to stay back and hit the ball hard,” Lopez said. “It was a slider that stayed out over the plate.”
The teams combined for four home runs in the game and 61 runs in the three-game series as the wind swirled out of Wrigley Field.
“Pitchers and hitters, when they roll out of bed, they see which way the wind is blowing,” Miley said. “If it’s blowing out anything can happen.”
Dempster struck out the side in the first, but struggled after that. He gave up six runs on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked five, two intentionally, and struck out seven.
Harang gave up four runs on nine hits and one walk in 5 1-3 innings, also striking out three.
Perez continued his strong hitting in place of Nomar Garciaparra, with a triple to right in the first. Two batters later, Lee scored Perez with a single.
Lee also drove in six runs June 16, 2000, against San Diego. It was his 10th two-homer game. … Lee broke Billy Williams’ post-1969 April RBI record, which was 25 in 1970 … Reliever Roberto Novoa was called up by the Cubs from Triple-A Iowa before the game. The Cubs sent RHP Jon Leicester down … Garciaparra underwent surgery for a ruptured tendon in his groin Wednesday. … Injured Cubs closer Joe Borowski threw a simulated game off the mound before the game. Borowski said he threw about 35 pitches and felt pain-free. He went on the DL with a broken arm on March 25. The Cubs aren’t sure when Borowski will go to a rehab assignment. … The Cubs hadn’t won a game on a home run since Patterson did it on Sept. 14, 2004 against Pittsburgh.