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Cubs rally past Dodgers as L.A. sees West lead reduced

CHICAGO (AP) -- Aramis Ramirez's three-run homer gave him 100
RBI. More importantly, he said, it gave the struggling Chicago
Cubs a victory and a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, a
team eyeing the playoffs.

"Right now we are playing spoilers. We took two out of three
from a first-place team and that's something we play for right
now," Ramirez said after his 33rd homer rallied the Cubs to a 6-5
win Thursday, knocking the Dodgers' lead to one-half game in the NL
West.

The Dodgers headed home after a series in which they lost twice
by blowing leads at Wrigley Field. Los Angeles begins a key
four-game series Friday with second-place San Diego, which beat the
Reds 4-2 Thursday.

"We've been through this before. We've had some awfully tough
losses," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "This was another one
today. We just have to put it behind us, come back tomorrow and
start a big series with San Diego and see what happens."

J.D. Drew's three-run homer off Carlos Marmol gave the Dodgers a
5-2 lead in the sixth and put Hong-Chih Kuo in position to win his
second straight start.

But reliever Brett Tomko (8-7) was roughed up for the second
time in the series when he came on in the seventh. Ronny Cedeno's
single, a bunt single by Juan Pierre and a two-out RBI single by
Ryan Theriot made it 5-3. Ramirez followed with a homer to left.

"It's tough, especially this late in the season. Everything's
magnified," said Tomko, who gave up a hit, two walks and two runs
in a one-third of an inning Tuesday night when the Dodgers blew a
7-0 lead and lost 9-8 in 11 innings.

Los Angeles didn't have such a big cushion Thursday but still
let the game get away. Tomko, who has made 23 relief appearances
and 15 starts, took the blame.

"It's a pretty bad feeling to blow a lead late in the game,"
he said. "It's different than going out as a starter and giving up
four or five runs. It's been a rough couple of days for me, a rough
series for me."

Ramirez had a rough start this year. He batted .197 in the first
month of the season and through April and May had just nine homers
and 25 RBI. Now, he's driven in 100 now for the fourth time in six
years.

"Like I always say, the numbers end up pretty close to where
they're going to be, regardless of how you start," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said. "You want to start great all the time, but it
doesn't happen."

Scott Eyre (1-2) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of hitless
relief. Bob Howry pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in
nine chances.

Kuo, in his second major league start after beating the Mets
with six shutout innings six days ago, gave up seven hits and two
runs in six innings with no walks and six strikeouts.

Chicago's Wade Miller, who spent most of the season on the
disabled list, allowed just one hit in five innings -- a two-run
homer off the right field foul pole by Marlon Anderson in the
second. He left with the game tied at 2-2.

Alan Schwarz and Jerry Crasnick preview the four-game Dodgers-Padres series. Also, who is the Phillies' leader: Ryan Howard or Chase Utley?

• Baseball Today

Los Angeles immediately reached Marmol for three straight hits,
including Drew's 16th homer into the seats in left center.

Kenny Lofton started the rally with a bunt single when Marmol's
throw hit him in the back of the head as he reached the first base
bag. Nomar Garciaparra followed with a single to right before Drew
connected.

The Cubs tied it the fourth on Angel Pagan's two-run triple.

Miller, in his second start of the season after off-season
shoulder surgery, walked the first two batters in the fifth but
pitched out of it, retiring Rafael Furcal on a bouncer to first for
the final out. He left for a pinch-hitter with the game tied at 2,
walked three and struck out three.

Game notes
Miller lasted just three innings in his previous start,
giving up five hits and four runs in a loss to the Braves. He has a
62-44 career record with the Astros, Red Sox and Cubs. ... Lofton's
leadoff hit in the sixth came on the 15th anniversary of his major
league debut. He broke in with the Astros on Sept. 14, 1991. ...
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser to the
chairman, led the singing during the seventh-inning stretch. ...
Tomko got his 1,000th major league strikeout by fanning
pinch-hitter Jacque Jones for the second out of the seventh. ...
Theriot went to a hospital to have a finger on his right hand
examined after the game. He hurt it fielding Anderson's grounder in
the ninth and had to leave the game.