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Piazza's three-run shot in ninth gives Padres 13th win in last 14

CHICAGO (AP) -- Mike Piazza is having a good time in Chicago.

Piazza hit a three-run homer off Ryan Dempster in the ninth
inning, and the surging San Diego Padres rallied for their 13th
victory in 14 games, beating the slumping Chicago Cubs 4-3 on
Saturday.

"Just elation," Piazza said. "Any time you get a chance to
come back, especially in a game that (Greg) Maddux is pitching so
well -- we were fortunate."

Piazza wasn't celebrating afterward. He was calm, relaxed. He
spoke softly.

He has hit clutch home runs before, and this one came a day
after his first four-hit game in about a year. It also upstaged a
fine performance by Maddux.

Mike Cameron led off the ninth with a single to center off
Dempster, and Brian Giles followed with a base hit to right. Piazza
then hit his fourth homer of the season and 401st of his career,
pulling an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall to make it 4-3 and
send the Cubs to their 13th loss in 15 games.

The blown save was the first for Dempster (0-1) since July 24,
2005, at St. Louis. He had converted 26 straight, including his
first seven opportunities this season.

"We played good baseball," Dempster said. "We played great
defense. We pitched well. We moved guys over. Let's not let my one
(crummy) inning say what the game was all about."

It was all about Maddux until Piazza's homer.

He allowed an unearned run in 7 1-3 innings but stayed stuck in
15th place on baseball's all-time wins list with 323 -- one less
than Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton. Maddux left to a standing ovation
with two runners on and a run in. Scott Eyre relieved, and pinch
hitter Eric Young grounded into a double play to preserve the lead
temporarily.

Piazza simply was looking to keep the ball off the ground. And
after a low cutter by Dempster, he got a hanging pitch.

"I didn't try to do too much with it," he said. "I just put
the bat on the ball and hit it well enough. We'll take it."

San Diego starter Chris Young allowed three runs -- two earned --
and six hits, walked three and struck out four in seven innings.
Cla Meredith (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth.

Trevor Hoffman retired the side in the ninth for his seventh
save in as many opportunities.

A Cubs offense that has sputtered since Derrek Lee went on the
disabled list last month with broken bones in his wrist showed some
life in the first inning.

Back in the lineup after a day off, Jacque Jones collected his
1,000th hit when he drove in Ronny Cedeno with a single up the
middle with two out. With a .340 average in his previous 14 games,
Jones has been one of the few productive hitters lately. The next
batter, Jerry Hairston Jr., made it 2-0 with a bunt single down the
third-base line that drove in Aramis Ramirez.

Maddux worked a nine-pitch first inning, allowing Cameron's
double, and retired the Padres on seven in the second. The 15-time
Gold Glove winner ended that inning by racing back for an
over-the-shoulder stab of Adrian Gonzalez's chopper and firing to
first.

It was vintage Maddux. He changed speeds, hit the corners. And
the Padres looked like frustrated weekend golfers, lunging and
flailing.

It was a big difference from Maddux's previous two starts
against Arizona and San Diego, when he allowed a combined 12 runs
in 8 2-3 innings and saw his ERA rise from 1.35 to 3.64.

Maddux was a thorn on offense, too.

He singled with two out in the fourth and then, in a strange
play, stole second as Young prepared to deliver his first pitch to
Juan Pierre. Young turned and threw to second, but Maddux slid
under Josh Barfield's tag for his first steal since Aug. 6 at New
York and the eighth of his career.

But afterward, his mind was on Dempster.

"I feel bad for Dempster," Maddux said. "I don't think
anybody feels worse than he does."

Game notes
Kerry Wood, coming back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery,
most likely will make his first start of the season Thursday when
the Chicago Cubs play the Washington Nationals. He allowed a run on
five hits and struck out three in five innings Friday in a rehab
start for Triple-A Iowa. ... The Padres placed right-handed pitcher
Woody Williams on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left
calf and purchased right-hander Jim Brower's contract from Single-A
Eugene on Saturday.