CHICAGO (AP) -- Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon had no problem
pulling his starting pitcher after only five innings because he has
so much confidence in his bullpen.
Jeff D'Amico got his first win of the season and Aramis Ramirez
went 2-for-3 with an RBI single as the Pirates beat the Chicago
Cubs 3-2 Friday. D'Amico had given up just two runs and thrown only 58 pitches
through five innings when McClendon yanked his starter, saying he
was beginning to elevate the ball and he didn't like his rhythm. McClendon also felt the lead was safe with the way his relievers
have been performing."Our bullpen is our foundation and today was no different,"
McClendon said. After D'Amico left, Salomon Torres, Joe Beimel, Julian Tavarez
and Mike Williams combined on four scoreless innings of relief.
Williams pitched a hitless ninth for his fifth save in as many
tries. "We feel good when we have a lead late. We feel we can match
up," McClendon said. "We have guys that are capable of getting
the job done down there." The Pirates didn't have an extra-base hit and have just four in
their last five games. Still, Pittsburgh (7-3) is off to its best
start since also winning seven of 10 to begin the 1993 season. Ramirez hit his RBI single in the first inning. D'Amico (1-1)
improved to 5-0 in five career starts against the Cubs. He struggled in his first start of the season, giving up four
earned runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 16-1 loss to Philadelphia. "I felt fine, he just decided to make the change," D'Amico
said of McClendon's decision. "It all worked out great. You can't
say enough about what the bullpen did." Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (1-1) gave up three runs -- two
earned -- and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six. He said his three walks hurt him, particularly in such a tight
game. "You have to learn to win the game 1-0 or 2-0," he said. The Pirates scored three runs in the first four innings and made
it hold up. In the first inning, Jason Kendall reached on an infield single,
stole second and scored on Ramirez's single. Pittsburgh added an unearned run in the second after Pokey Reese
led off with a single. On a hit and run, Jack Wilson grounded to
shortstop. Reese went from first to third on the play and first
baseman Eric Karros' throw to third was wild for an error, allowing
Reese to score. In the fourth inning, Ramirez walked, advanced to third on
Randall Simon's single and scored on Reese's sacrifice fly. Moises Alou had a two-run double in the fourth for the Cubs. But
they ran themselves out of the inning when Alou took off on a liner
to right and was doubled off second. Sammy Sosa, hitting just .240 coming into the game, was 2-for-4
with a double.Game notes
The Pirates are 6-1 in day games this season and have
afternoon contests Saturday and Sunday at Wrigley Field. ...
Pirates LF Brian Giles wasn't in the lineup. Giles, out with a
strained knee, loves to play against the Cubs. He hit .509 against
Chicago in 2002 with seven home runs and has batted .355 against
the Cubs in his career. He has five homers in his last five games
at Wrigley Field. ... Cubs 2B Mark Grudzielanek had an eight-game
hitting streak snapped.