Ted Lilly’s pitching sends Chicago Cubs to 8-2 win over Los Angeles Dodgers

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CHICAGO (AP)—Ted Lilly’s been at his best this season when the Chicago Cubs need to bounce back from a loss. So the logical question: with Carlos Zambrano struggling, is Lilly now the staff ace?

Lilly says no, and that’s not what’s important in the final weeks of the season with his team trying to make the playoffs.

He allowed six hits and a pair of runs in 6 2-3 solid innings Wednesday night as the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-2 after dropping the first two games of the series. Lilly is now 8-1 in 15 starts following a Chicago loss.

“It’s been nice to be able to do that. Unfortunately I’d rather not come in after a loss, but that’s been the case a few times,” he said.

Lilly (14-7) got his first win since Aug. 9 and tied Zambrano for the team lead in victories as the Cubs stayed one-half game ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central.

One more win and the left-hander ties his career high set last year with the Blue Jays.

“I think Carlos is the ace of the staff for a reason. He’s earned that over the years, put together quite a few dominating years,” Lilly said.

“I guess I don’t really think that’s the most important thing to me. When it’s my turn, I get the chance to pitch. I want to do everything I can to win.”

The Dodgers fell four games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers are three behind the Padres in the wild-card race.

Los Angeles turned in a sloppy performance with three errors.

“We made a few mistakes there that weren’t really pretty,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “When we do have a day like this, we’ve got to put it behind us as quickly as we can and get on with business tomorrow.”

Chicago’s Aramis Ramirez hit his 20th homer, a two-run shot in the third for a 3-0 lead against lefty Eric Stults.

“The ball cut back over the middle of the plate and shot out of here like a rocket,” Little said.

Stults (1-3), recalled Tuesday from the minors for the fourth time this season, got the start because David Wells is serving a seven-game suspension. In his sixth major league start, he gave up eight hits and four runs—three earned — in 4 1-3 innings.

“I just couldn’t get my changeup down. It was coming back across the plate,” Stults said.

And the Cubs were finally showing some offense after manager Lou Piniella juggled his lineup a bit. They scored four in the eighth to wide the lead.

“We finally broke it open. Some timely hitting. Something that’s been missing here,” Piniella said.

Lilly left leading 4-1 after giving up a two-out walk to Mike Lieberthal in the seventh and Carlos Marmol relieved. Pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz hit a liner to center and when Chicago’s Felix Pie slipped, the ball rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Liberthal to score and giving Saenz an RBI double. Pie had just entered the game in the sixth as a defensive replacement.

Liberthal’s double, a single by Stults and sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal got the Dodgers their first run in the fifth.

But the Cubs got it right back when Mark DeRosa doubled, Derrek Lee singled and Dodgers’ right fielder Matt Kemp fielded the ball and threw it over catcher Liberthal’s head for an error. The ball bounced off a brick wall and DeRosa took off for the plate to put Chicago ahead 4-1.

Piniella inserted Craig Monroe in center, Ronny Cedeno at short and Pacific Coast League Player of the Year Geovany Soto behind the plate to start the game and they responded.

Monroe doubled in the second and scored on Soto’s RBI single. And when the Dodgers had a runner at third with two outs in the third, Cedeno made an alert play, grabbing Juan Pierre’s hard liner after it deflected off third baseman Ramirez’s glove.

The Cubs tacked on four in the eighth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot and run-scoring single from Jacque Jones, two regulars who didn’t start the game. DeRosa then hit a two-run single through a drawn-in infield to make it 8-2.

Lilly said the Cubs are ready for the final push with a clubhouse that “loves to be in the big games and is excited to be in the position where every game counts right now.”


Dodgers catcher Russell Martin had a precautionary MRI exam Wednesday and it revealed a mild sprain on the outside of his left knee. He will be evaluated daily and manager Grady Little said he’s not sure if Martin can play in Thursday’s series finale. He got hurt trying to score from third on a fly ball Tuesday night when he was tagged out. … Roberto Hernandez, the sixth reliever used by the Dodgers, made his 1,006th career appearance, giving him sole possession of 10th place all-time on the games pitched list.

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