Cubs 7, Pirates 1

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Ryan Theriot and the Chicago Cubs hitters easily singled out the reason they won Saturday night—they hit a lot of singles.

Despite being in their longest home run drought since 1999, the Cubs won for the 12th time in 15 games, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1.

The Cubs did not homer for the eighth straight game. Instead, they got 14 hits, all of them in the first six innings and all but one a single.

“I’d rather not hit any (homers) and win than hit four or five and lose,” said Ryan Theriot, who had three hits. “The key to the game is whoever touches home most wins, and I guess however you do that, it really doesn’t matter too much. We’ve got guys not hitting home runs, and were still winning ballgames. That means a lot of people are getting a lot of hits.”

Ted Lilly pitched neatly into the eighth inning and Alfonso Soriano also had three hits for the Cubs.

Ronny Paulino had three hits for the Pirates, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Every Chicago starter except catcher Koyie Hill and Lilly were on base at least twice.

“We hit with men on base tonight,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “Were getting runs in, that’s all that matters.”

Lilly (8-4) won his fourth decision in a row. He gave up one run and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out six and walking one.

“I was working really well with Koyie,” Lilly said. “He was doing a good job behind the plate. I felt pretty comfortable knowing he had a pretty good gameplan and pretty good feel for the hitters tonight.”

The Cubs started quickly against John Van Benschoten (0-3), with four of the first five batters getting hits. Derrek Lee and Daryle Ward had RBI singles for a 2-0 lead.

“It’s very important to lead off the team right,” Soriano said. “And I got a hit and stole a base to try to do something for my team because sometimes we have problems scoring some runs.”

Chicago made it 5-0 in the third. Following a pair of walks, Mark DeRosa singled off shortstop Jack Wilson’s glove to drive in Lee. After Jacques Jones walked, Hill hit a sacrifice fly and Lilly hit an RBI single.

“We got the game started with a couple basehits, and we scored a few runs early and gave Lilly something to work with,” Piniella said. “And then we added some runs, which is also good to see.”

The rout was on when Soriano and Theriot hit RBI singles in the fifth off John Wasdin. Soriano scored twice.

Aramis Ramirez added two hits for the Cubs. He scored once and drove in a run. DeRosa had two hits and scored a run.

“I think everybody had a good approach tonight,” Theriot said. “We went in and stuck to our gameplan. We stared to see some back-to-back hits. That’s how you win ballgames, how you score runs. Guys got hits with runners in scoring position, capitalized and got the job done.”

The Pirates’ run came in the seventh when Wilson doubled home Ryan Doumit.

Van Benschoten allowed seven hits and three walks in 2 2-3 innings.

“They just seemed to find the holes and balls went where they wanted them to go,” said Van Benschoten, who made his fifth start of the season. “I define it as a tough one tonight. It’s tough to swallow and it’s going to be tough because now you’ve got the All-Star break to think about that last start you had before the All-Star break, so it’s frustrating.”

The Cubs, who were in fourth place just five weeks ago, moved to within 4 1/2 games of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. They took three out of four in Washington before splitting the first two games of this series.

“We started on this road trip thinking four wins, five wins, would be a real nice trip for us,” Piniella said.

Notes

Pirates 1B Adam LaRoche was scratched an hour before the game due to what was described as left knee irritation. … Chicago’s first nine hits were singles. When Jones hit a double in the fifth, it extended the Cubs’ streak of at least one in each of the past 14 games, tying a season high.

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