MILWAUKEE (AP) -Cubs manager Lou Piniella called a few hitters in at different points on Wednesday afternoon to try to help Chicago break out of its offensive funk. Derrek Lee? There was no need for a pep talk for the veteran slugger.
Lee hit his 300th homer, Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto each connected twice and the Cubs showed some surprising pop to power past the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 on Wednesday night.
``I was aware, but I wasn't going up there thinking let's try to get to 300. But now that I'm there, it feels good. It's a nice accomplishment,' said Lee, a 14-year veteran. ``It says that you've had some success over a period of time.'
Chicago's five homers marked its biggest outburst this season and were more than the Cubs hit in the previous nine games combined. Chicago has not had a winning streak of longer than four games this season.
``All we're trying to do is create a little sense of urgency here,' Piniella said of his pregame meetings. ``We've got to keep grinding. That was the purpose.'
All the offense helped starter Carlos Zambrano (2-4) earn his first win since returning to the rotation and overshadowed the fact that he wasn't very sharp again. It was his first victory since April 10.
``My command was a little off today, but in those situations, big situations, I was able to get big hitters out,' Zambrano said.
Said Brewers slugger Corey Hart: ``We were kind of hoping to get the old guy.'
They didn't, and faced a deep hole after Brewers starter Randy Wolf got tagged in the fifth.
Byrd hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Soto led off with a shot in the second and Chicago smacked three more in the fifth off Wolf (4-6) when Lee hit his 300th, Byrd followed with another and Soto capped it with a two-run drive that made it 8-3.
``What's going through my mind is, this is awful,' Wolf said. ``It's one of those times when you feel like you wake up and it's a bad dream. But it's reality.
``I have to deal with it and try and get better. I'm making a lot of mistakes out there and I'm not getting away with any of them. I'm better than that. I've just got to find a way to get better than that.'
Zambrano, Chicago's $91.5 million right-hander who spent five weeks in the bullpen until Friday's loss to Houston, pitched five innings and allowed two hits, but was wild.
He walked five and hit a batter with a pitch, getting into trouble in the fourth leading 3-1 after consecutive walks to Jim Edmonds and Corey Hart with one out.
After George Kottaras popped up for the second out, Wolf hit a double to the wall in center field, tying the game 3-all and just missing a homer.
``The walks killed him a little bit, but he was throwing the ball pretty good,' Soto said. ``His velocity was there. His split was down. He seemed like the old Carlos we all know.'
The Cubs answered in the fifth, hitting the most home runs off a Brewers starter since 2002 when Andrew Lorraine allowed that many in his only start for Milwaukee.
After Wolf got the first out of the inning, Jeff Baker singled and Lee hit his shot off the facade of the second deck in left field. The first high-five when he got to the dugout came from Piniella.
``He's a staple over there at first base. He loves to play and he's been productive. We need to get him hot with the bat this year,' Piniella said. ``He's had a great career, a great career. He's had a batting title, 300 home runs. Pretty impressive. A good young man to boot.'
Byrd followed Lee's at-bat with his second shot to make it 6-3. Wolf got the second out, but left after Alfonso Soriano walked and Soto hit another homer to put Chicago ahead 8-3. Baker tacked on an RBI ground-rule double in the ninth.
Ryan Braun, who had an RBI groundout in the first, hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to cut it to 8-4, but the Brewers otherwise squandered that opportunity after loading the bases with no outs against reliever James Russell when Andrew Cashner got the Cubs out of the jam.
Lee joined Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ron Cey, Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa as the only players to hit their 300th homer in a Cubs uniform.
But the 34-year-old slugger might not wait long for someone to join him on the list. Soriano has 299 career homers.
``Lee got his and Sori will get his, I hope, soon,' Piniella said.
NOTES: Career saves leader Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect eighth to lower his ERA to 10.42. ... Brewers C Gregg Zaun said he would have season-ending right shoulder surgery on Tuesday. He signed a one-year contract in the offseason and hit .265 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 28 games. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez (left thumb) was placed on the 15-day disabled list and said he would rest until his hand felt better. He hopes to return in two weeks, but wouldn't commit to it. Ramirez is hitting .168 with five homers and 22 RBIs.
The Associated Press News Service
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