CHICAGO (AP)—Ronny Cedeno found out 30 minutes before the first pitch he’d be starting instead of sitting. Felix Pie, who has spent more time in the batting cage than on the field recently, entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
After Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez helped the Cubs take a precarious one-run lead after seven innings, it was reserves Cedeno and Pie who sparked a five-run eighth as Chicago beat the New York Mets 7-1 on Monday night.
Cedeno started a key double play in the sixth and had a two-out, bases-loaded single in the eighth off reliever Aaron Heilman. Light-hitting Pie followed with a three-run homer off Jorge Sosa to ice Chicago’s 12th win in 15 games.
“I was not supposed to play today, but after they told me I put myself mentally in the game,” said Cedeno, who played when starting shortstop Ryan Theriot was a late scratch with a sore back.
“I’m so happy for Felix.”
Pie, who was batting .143 entering the game, has been spending most of his time restructuring his batting stroke with manager Lou Piniella offering advice. The Cubs even called in minor league hitting instructor Dave Keller on Monday to work with him.
“In my mind, I remember Lou telling me to go through with the front foot,” Pie said. “One swing, but tomorrow I’m going to start and I’ll see tomorrow. This is a good feeling, something in my life I’ll never forget.”
Zambrano (3-1) allowed five hits and a run with two walks and four strikeouts. Chicago’s ace was backed by four double plays, including one in the sixth started by Cedeno against Jose Reyes that doused a big inning for the Mets.
Reyes later made an error to start the five-run Cubs’ eighth inning in what turned into a tough night.
“It’s never easy to hit against Zambrano,” said Reyes, who offered no excuse on the error. “The ball just came out of my glove. The play was right there. It should have been an easy out. It’s a routine ground ball.”
With the Cubs leading 2-0 in the sixth, New York’s Endy Chavez hit a leadoff double and easily made third when Maine bunted and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto threw late to third, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
But Reyes grounded to Cedeno, who stepped on the bag and was able to barely double up the speedy Reyes with his throw to first as New York’s first run scored. Luis Castillo then beat out an infield single and stole second, and David Wright walked before Zambrano got Carlos Beltran on a fly to left.
Reyes fumbled Lee’s grounder to the start the bottom of the eighth. Heilman hit Ramirez with a pitch and Kosuke Fukudome singled to cap a 10-pitch at-bat and load the bases. Mark DeRosa struck out and Soto popped up, but Cedeno delivered a single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch before Pie homered.
“One pitch away from getting out of the inning. Unfortunately, I didn’t make that pitch,” Heilman said. “He (Cedeno) kept fouling off good pitches and then I made a mistake.”
Ramirez, who raised his average Sunday from .234 to .275 with four hits, homered to left-center after Lee led off the fourth with a single off John Maine (1-2). Ramirez, who has five homers, has reached base in all 19 of the Cubs’ games.
Maine gave up five hits and two runs in six innings with two walks and a season-high six strikeouts. Zambrano improved to 4-1 against the Mets, while Maine dropped to 0-3 in his career against the Cubs.
Fukudome, who didn’t play Sunday for the first time this season, had a cyst near his right eye drained and was back in the lineup. … Mets C Brian Schneider, who bruised his right forearm when he was hit by a foul ball Saturday night, was out of the lineup for a second straight game with Raul Casanova getting the start. Schneider was trying to get rid of swelling and soreness. He could’ve played in an emergency, but said he would see how he felt Tuesday to determine when he might play again. … Alfonso Soriano did some light jogging Monday and is still hoping to come off the disabled list next week. He suffered a right calf strain catching a fly ball last week.