PITTSBURGH -- No doubt the Cubs anticipated needing Randy Wells and Sam Fuld to win games for them as the All-Star break approached in early July. The Iowa Cubs, that is.
The Chicago Cubs? Hardly, at least not until injuries repeatedly made them dip into the minors for help.Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukudome homered to support Wells' seven effective innings and the Cubs won another series from division opponent Pittsburgh, beating the Pirates 4-1 on Wednesday night.Fuld made a major contribution with his first two career hits and a strong throw from left field to get Jack Wilson at the plate and shut down a potential Pirates rally in the fifth."It's nice to see guys get a chance, come up and contribute," said Wells, who might have included himself in that group. "That's what we all hope for when we go down to Iowa and take all those early flights and kind of put up with all the [stuff] of Triple-A. That's all you ask for."Wells (3-3) was all the Cubs could ask for. The right-hander gave up one run and six hits, allowing the Cubs to take two of three in Pittsburgh and avoid falling three games under .500 for the first time since they were 36-39 in 2007.Wells, lost in the December 2007 draft before the Cubs got him back from Toronto last year, has been a pleasant surprise to a team that has been set back by injuries all season. Wells has a 2.18 ERA while winning his last three starts."I like to think I've been consistent," Wells said. "When I was called up to make my first start [May 8], I said, 'Just be who you are. Go out, throw strikes, mix speeds and keep the flow of the game going.'"Chicago kept it going against the Pirates, who have dropped eight of their last nine series to the Cubs dating to 2007 and 21 of the teams' last 27 games. The Pirates are 2-4 against them this season, which partly explains their 11-23 record in the NL Central.Cubs manager Lou Piniella liked everything he saw, even if he didn't see all the game. Piniella was ejected by first-base umpire Chad Fairchild for throwing his cap while arguing Wells was safe on a slowly hit ball to the mound with two on and two outs in the sixth."The umpire missed a call, what can I say?" Piniella said. "I saw it very plain from where I was. But what are you going to do?"Wells, given a 2-0 lead on Lee's two-run drive three batters into the game, gave a run back on Andrew McCutchen's double and Brandon Moss' RBI single in the bottom of the inning, but didn't allow anything after that. He struck out four and walked one, permitting only one runner to reach third after the first.Wells gave up three singles in the fifth, but the Pirates -- down 2-1 -- ran themselves out of a potential rally when Fuld threw out Wilson on Freddy Sanchez's single, stranding two runners."I thought we had a chance. I thought he would have to turn and make a pretty good throw and sure enough, he did," Wilson said.Fuld, making his first start this season and second in the majors, opened the game with a double off Virgil Vasquez for his first hit in seven career at-bats. Lee followed a batter later with his 12th homer.Fuld, 0 for 6 during a September callup in 2007, also singled while reaching base three times."It felt great to get the first one out of the way," Fuld said. "I felt comfortable all night long and really couldn't have asked for a better night."Carlos Marmol followed Wells with a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg finished up for his 14th save in 17 opportunities, with neither reliever permitting a hit.Vasquez (1-1), coming off a 5-3 decision over Kansas City on Friday, gave up six hits and three runs in six innings. Fukudome made it 3-1 with a drive into the seats in right-center on Vasquez's 3-2 pitch in the sixth.
The Cubs, 3-7 on a 10-game trip, return home for their final 11 games before the break. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez (shoulder) begins a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Peoria on Friday and could return as early as Monday. The Cubs are 21-24 without him. ... The Pirates released OF Craig Monroe, who was designated for assignment June 16.