Cubs 9, Dodgers 5
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Derrek Lee is making the art of hitting look awfully easy these days.
Lee matched his career high with five hits including a three-run homer, raising his major league-leading batting average to .380 and leading the Chicago Cubs to a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
“I’ve played with a lot of great players. This is the best streak I’ve ever seen,” Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said, shaking his head.
Lee also ranks among the top five in runs scored with 41 and hits with 71.
Lee was 5-for-5 and Neifi Perez was 4-for-5 as Chicago extended its winning streak to a season-high six games. Perez also hit a three-run homer to help the Cubs sweep a three-game series at Dodger Stadium for the first time since May 1995 and move a season-high three games over .500.
“It was a great night for the whole team,” Lee said.
The 29-year-old first baseman has gone 17-for-29 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last seven games.
“It’s one of those grooves where you’re just seeing the ball. It feels like slow motion,” Lee said. “I’m not doing anything different. I’m seeing the ball well, getting good at-bats.”
Lee hit a career-high .282 while playing for the Florida Marlins in 2001. He had career-high totals of 32 homers and 98 RBIs with the Cubs last season.
“The guy’s been unbelievable,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s locked in pretty good. That three-run homer made us all feel a lot, lot better.”
The Cubs led 6-5 before Perez and Enrique Wilson hit two-out singles in the eighth. Lee then hit a 2-1 pitch from Sanchez over the left field wall to complete the scoring.
“As hot as he is and as well as he’s swinging the bat, if you mislocate pitches in the middle of the plate to this guy, you’re going to pay for it,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “When you lead in all offensive categories that would qualify you for the Triple Crown. It’s very obvious that he’s really beginning to find himself offensively.”
John Koronka (1-0) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings to earn the victory in his big-league debut. Koronka, a 24-year-old left-hander who has pitched in 165 minor league games, walked three and struck out four.
“It feels great,” Koronka said. “First game, get a win, it’s unbelievable.”
Koronka made his debut before a sellout crowd of 54,093.
“I got out there and saw all those people, it kind of pumped me up,” he said.
Six of the first 10 Chicago batters hit safely off Derek Lowe (4-5), pitching on his 32nd birthday. Lowe was lifted after allowing a season-high 13 hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Lowe, who entered with a 4-1 record and a 2.52 ERA at Dodger Stadium, sustained a small cut on his right wrist while throwing a stool in anger in the Dodgers’ dugout after the Cubs scored four runs in the second, but it didn’t keep him from continuing to pitch.
“It didn’t affect one pitch,” Lowe said. “All we had to do was stop the bleeding, and once we did that, it was fine. Jim Tracy’s a very smart man and a good manager, so he wouldn’t have kept putting me out there inning after inning if he thought what I was throwing up there was being affected by my wrist.”
The slumping Dodgers have lost 24 of 38 games since going 12-2 to start the season, dropping them to .500 for the first time since they split their first two games.
The Cubs went ahead for good in the second on Todd Hollandsworth’s run-scoring infield hit and Perez’s two-out, three-run homer.
The Cubs made it 6-3 on an RBI double by Walker in the fifth and Lee’s two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth that chased Lowe.
The Dodgers drew within one run again when Jason Phillips hit a leadoff homer off Joe Borowski in their half of the sixth and Jayson Werth greeted reliever Michael Wuertz with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
The Cubs got 16 hits off four Los Angeles pitchers and have had 10 or more hits in every game during their winning streak. … Koronka was recalled from Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. To make room, the Cubs optioned RHP Jon Leicester to Iowa. … Dodgers 3B Antonio Perez played despite being beaned by Cubs reliever Ryan Dempster in the 10th inning Tuesday night. Perez, batting second for the first time this season, went 1-for-5. … Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez didn’t play because of a sore right ankle. He was injured while running out a single in the ninth inning Tuesday night. Baker said he hoped Ramirez would return to the lineup Thursday night in San Diego. … Koronka became the ninth Cubs pitcher to start a game this season. They used only seven starters all of last year. … Dodgers SS Cesar Izturis had two hits for his major league-leading 28th multihit game of the season.