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Pirates Lose Game And Osik

Jeff Blauser leads off the ninth with a homer, Henry Rodriguez singles home the game-winning run and the Chicago Cubs rally for yet another wild and wacky victory at Wrigley Field.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Didn't the same thing happen last Friday?

"We need these kind of games to start something," Rodriguez said after driving in the winning run in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cubs went back to almost the same formula that beat Minnesota last Friday. Trailing 1-0, Blauser worked Jason Christiansen (2-3) to a 3-2 count then put a fastball over the left-field fence. It was his second pinch homer this season, and third of his career.

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Game Summary

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  • "I was just trying to make a good pass at the ball and hit it hard some where," said Blauser, who was hitting for Mickey Morandini. "I didn't think it was going to be a homer, especially the way the wind was blowing."

    But it was a homer, and the rest of the Cubs could feel the momentum shift.

    "You could just sense it was going to happen," Mark Grace said.

    After falling behind 0-2, Tyler Houston walked and Grace singled. Sammy Sosa was intentionally walked to load the bases, and then Rodriguez singled through the hole at second to win the game.

    "I was trying to hit a fly ball," Rodriguez said, laughing.

    Rick Aguilera (4-3) gave up one hit in one inning for the Cubs, who are just 13-24 since June 9, dropping to last in the NL Central. /P>

    "There's 70 more games left," he said. "Whoever's up there now, who knows if they're going to be in first place at the end of the season. In baseball, you never know."

    The Cubs looked like the better team for most of the game, with Jon Lieber striking out nine and giving up five hits and one unearned run in eight innings. But the Pirates got a run on Kevin Young's fourth-inning sacrifice fly, and Chicago kept wasting opportunities to catch up.

    "You need to have all parts of your team playing well in a one-run game," Brian Giles said. "You've got to give them credit for winning."

    Sosa and Jose Hernandez had what on other days would have been homers, but the wind held them up for easy outs. In the sixth, former Cub Brant Brown threw out Lieber, the player he was traded for last December, as Lieber hustled for home from second on Houston's single.

    Plate umpire Bob Davidson called Lieber out, but replays showed Lieber might have gotten a foot across before backup catcher Chris Tremie tagged him. Though manager Jim Riggleman argued the call, he later said it was the right one.

    Sammy Sosa gets intentionally walked, so it is up to Henry Rodriguez to drive in the winning run for the Cubs.  <b>
    Sammy Sosa gets intentionally walked, so it is up to Henry Rodriguez to drive in the winning run for the Cubs. (AP)

    Grace also tried for home the next inning after Sosa's single up the middle, but Giles' throw from center made it to Tremie in plenty of time. Third base coach Tom Gamboa said that was his fault.

    After a hard-charging catch, Gamboa thought Giles was going to need a step or two before he could throw the ball home. But Giles threw right away, and Gamboa put up the stop sign too late.

    Grace kept going, running over Tremie with what looked like more of a tackle than a slide.

    "That was a pretty good collision at the plate," Pirates manager Gene Lamont said. "Tremie knew he would get hit pretty good. Since we were already down to our third catcher, there were some anxious moments on the bench."


    • Pittsburgh catcher Keith Osik eft in the third with a strained left hamstring and Lamont said Osik will probably have to go on the disabled list. The Pirates were already down to their third catcher after Jason Kendall shattered his ankle and tore all the ankle ligaments July 4 while running out a bunt.
    • Left-hander Pete Schourek will replace struggling right-hander Jose Silva in the Pirates' rotation. Schourek made 10 starts at the beginning of the season before going to the bullpen, and made an emergency start July 4. He's 2-5 with a 5.01 ERA as a starter. Silva is 2-8 with a 7.19 ERA.
    • There's still no return date set for Cubs outfielder Lance Johnson, on the disabled list since June 13 with an abdominal strain. "He just can't run," Riggleman said. "He can swing the bat, but he can't run."

      ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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