Cubs 6, Giants 2

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CHICAGO (AP)—Rich Hill is auditioning for next season and so is Ryan Theriot. Their performances Friday were a pick-me-up for the Chicago Cubs against the sleepy San Francisco Giants.

Hill pitched eight strong innings and Theriot connected for his first major league homer as the Cubs beat the Giants 6-2 Friday.

The Giants, who started the day 2 1/2 games back in the NL wild-card race and 5 1/2 behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West, rested star Barry Bonds, who’d batted .538 with three homers in his previous nine games.

All the Giants, not just Bonds, needed some extra down time. After a game in Atlanta on Thursday night, they didn’t arrive at their Chicago hotel until around 2:30 a.m. CDT.

“We have a lot of sleeping to do tonight,” said Giants manager Felipe Alou, who didn’t turn in until almost 3:30 a.m., less than 10 hours before the first pitch Friday.

“You have to be geared up and ready to play anyway. It doesn’t matter what the situation is,” said Todd Linden, who replaced Bonds in left field and lost a fly ball that helped the Cubs to two early runs.

“We got off to a rough start and just never turned it around,” he said. “If you want to call that dragging. …”

Hill (4-6), who pitched shutout ball for seven innings, walked one and struck out six. Matt Murton and Theriot connected into the wind against Giants starter Noah Lowry (7-8), who gave up eight hits and six runs in five innings.

“This is the part of the season I’m also going out there trying to get a job for next year,” Hill said. “You don’t think about it. That’s too far ahead.”

Theriot, who had a five-hit game Wednesday against the Pirates, is just enjoying where he’s at.

“I’m seeing the ball pretty good, I’ve had a few drop in to get me going and it’s been fun the last couple of days for sure,” he said.

The rookie’s homer was unexpected.

“Everybody was shocked. Normally I get in trouble when I hit the ball in the air, even if it does go over the fence,” he said. “So I try to keep it out of the air as much as I can and hit the ball on the ground.”

Derrek Lee hit one high in the air to left leading off the second and it got the Giants in trouble.

Linden ran back to the warning track and flipped his sunglasses down—the lights were on at Wrigley Field and it was partly cloudy at the time with the sun going in and out—and then signaled he couldn’t find the ball. With the wind blowing in at 11 mph, it dropped well in front of him for a double.

“I was a guinea pig for the first fly ball. That’s the way it goes,” Linden said. “I figured it was going to be on the track. I had the glasses down and it never came out of the sun. I didn’t pick it up until it was too late.”

Lee ended up scoring on Jacque Jones’ fly ball double to left that made it 1-0. After a walk to Murton, Ronny Cedeno, in a 2-for-15 slump, hit an RBI single.

Theriot doubled in the third and scored on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single for a 3-0 lead against Lowry. Murton’s 10th homer followed a single by Jones in the fourth. Theriot led off the fifth with his homer.

“Obviously we can’t go back on what’s happened up to this point in time,” Murton said of the Cubs’ miserable season. They broke a six-game losing skid Friday and are still 24 games under .500

“Anytime you play a team that has a chance at a wild card or the division title the intensity level on their side is going to be heightened a little bit,” Murton added. “Hopefully down the stretch we can play good baseball and take advantage of the spoiler’s role.”

The Giants ended Hill’s shutout bid in the eighth when Lance Niekro and Fred Lewis, both just promoted Friday from Triple-A Fresno, hit back-to-back doubles. It was Lewis’ first major league hit.

Pedro Feliz made it 6-2 with an RBI double off reliever Scott Eyre in the ninth.

^Notes: Giants 2B Ray Durham started for the Giants despite leaving Thursday night’s game in the seventh inning with a mild back strain. … In his two previous starts, wins against the Diamondbacks and Reds, Lowry had given up just eight hits and one run in 17 innings.

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