Lee hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning to lead
the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
One day after saying he would break off negotiations for a
contract extension until the offseason, Lee softened his stance
before the game, but made the big statement with the homer in the
eighth. Lee would be one of the most attractive free agents on the
open market, but he has said he wants to remain in Chicago.
"This guy has emerge as one of the greats in this game,"
manager Dusty Baker said.
Michael Barrett had a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the seventh
for the Cubs, who couldn't get anything going against NL Cy Young
Award winner Chris Carpenter. The right-hander struck out nine in
six shutout innings, allowing four hits and one walk.
"I was glad he (Carpenter) was out of the game when I did have
to pinch hit to be honest with you," Barrett said. "I was
watching him in the clubhouse, he was just hitting both sides of
Besides attacking both sides of the plate, Carpenter had all of
his pitches working.
"I had pretty good sink on my fastball, my cutter was good, my
breaking ball was good. I threw some real good changeups today. I
got through that first (inning) and made pretty good pitches all
day," Carpenter said.
Lee, who homered on Friday in the Cubs' home opener, greeted
Cardinals reliever Brad Thompson (1-1) with a drive leading off the
eighth. Lee's homer left Wrigley Field and landed on Waveland
Avenue despite the wind blowing in.
Trailing 2-0 in the seventh, the Cubs took advantage of the
Cardinals bullpen. Matt Murton led off with a single off Josh
Hancock. One out later, Barrett, pinch-hitting for Henry Blanco,
hit Hancock's 3-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers to tie it at
2. It was Barrett's second pinch-hit homer of his career.
"I'll be thinking about it, but I want the ball again," said
Hancock. "I just got behind him and he was looking fastball. I
gave him a fastball to hit. the location was off, I didn't get
ahead. I just didn't pitch today. I was trying to get it low, try
to put him on the ground. if he was going to get a swing on it, I
wanted him to swing and hit it down."
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano struggled on opening day, but
settled down against the Cardinals. Zambrano coasted through the
first five innings, but ran into trouble in sixth because of two
key errors made behind him.
Zambrano walked Jim Edmonds with two outs in the sixth. During
Scott Rolen's at-bat, Zambrano caught Edmonds jumping too early to
second. Zambrano threw over to Derrek Lee at first, but Lee missed
the throw and Edmonds advanced to third.
Rolen followed with a grounder to shortstop, but Ronny Cedeno's
throw pulled Lee off first, allowing Edmonds to score. Yadier
Molina added an RBI single to make it 2-0 Cardinals.
"I felt horrible about missing the ball. (Zambrano) threw it
right at my chest and I just whiffed it. When the pitcher is
pitching that well you don't want to make a mistake then Michael
Barrett picked us up with the big home run so it felt good to hit
the home run and put us back in the lead," Lee said.
Zambrano allowed two unearned runs in six innings and had five
strikeouts. He gave up four hits and walked four.
"Boy, that was a great comeback victory especially after we
kind of gave it to them in the (sixth) inning with those two
runs," Baker said.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry agreed on a two-year
contract extension through the 2008 season. One of his career
highlights was trading for Lee in Nov. 2003. ... Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa got LF John Rodriguez in the lineup despite a sore
left shoulder. Rodriguez entered the game 4-for-10 against Zambrano
and went 2-for-3 against the Cubs starter on the day.