CHICAGO (AP) -Lou Piniella finally got a glimpse of what he envisioned the middle of the Chicago Cubs' lineup would be.
Aramis Ramirez hit a pair of two-run doubles, and Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run homers to lead the Cubs to a 12-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
Alfonso Soriano also hit a solo homer for the Cubs, who scored nine of their 12 runs with two outs. Starlin Castro also stole home on a botched suicide squeeze in the second inning.
For most of the first half, Piniella got little offense out of Ramirez, who struggled with an average below .200 for most of the first half and Lee, who is considerably off his lifetime average of .284.
But on Tuesday night, Lee and Ramirez gave Piniella some optimism for a strong second half.
``This is what we hoped for,' Piniella said. ``This is what we talked about: a lot of hitting and the long ball and extra-base hits. Good ballgame for us. We talked about it - 3, 4, 5, 6. That's the big part of your lineup and when they're doing some damage, you're going to score some runs and today they did some damage and we scored a lot of runs.'
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. Dempster (8-7) rebounded after allowing a long two-run homer to Ryan Howard - his first of two in the game - in the first inning.
``I know everybody wants to count us down and out and the season to be over with,' Dempster said, ``but we refuse to do that and we're just going to go out there and play hard. It was a big game for us.'
The Cubs tagged Phillies starter Jamie Moyer (9-9) for six runs on five hits in three innings. He allowed two home runs and hit two batters. In his last two starts, he has allowed 13 runs in 8 1-3 innings.
Phillies manger Charlie Manuel is concerned with his pitching staff.
``We know what we got, how our guys pitch. We need consistent pitching. We've got holes,' he said.
After a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds before the All-Star break, the Phillies failed to match a season-high five-game winning streak and fell 5 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.
The Phillies' bats didn't come awake again until the ninth inning. Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez had a pair of two-out RBI singles in the ninth off Cubs reliever Bob Howry. Howard then chased Howry with another long two-run homer to right field.
Andrew Cashner got Jayson Werth to pop out to end the game.
Moyer, who started his career with the Cubs in 1986, couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead. The 47-year-old left-hander hit Tyler Colvin on the right shoulder in the first inning. With two outs, Moyer plunked Marlon Byrd on the left knee, and Ramirez followed with a double down the left-field line. Ibanez tried to play the ball off the brick wall, but it took a bad bounce and allowed Byrd to score from first to tie it at 2.
``Tonight, I struggled to put a finger on it on the field,' Moyer said. ``I just felt that if I made good pitches down I'd be fine, but I made bad pitches down, I made bad pitches up and paid for it. I didn't execute.'
In the second inning, Castro lined a triple over the head of Victorino in center. It looked as if Victorino might have a play, but he misjudged the ball and took a step in. With Dempster up, the Cubs attempted a suicide squeeze, but the pitcher wasn't able to get the bunt down. But the ball got by catcher Carlos Ruiz, allowing Castro to steal home.
He became the first Cubs player to record a straight steal of home since April 13, 1996, when Brian McRae did it in the first inning at San Francisco. Castro finished the game 3 for 4, falling a home run short of the cycle.
After getting the first two outs in the seventh, Phillies reliever Jose Contreras allowed a leadoff single to Lee. He hit Byrd with a pitch and Ramirez followed with another two-run double. Soriano drove in Lee on a bloop single, and Soto followed with his 10th homer of the season to chase Contreras.
``The track record shows that we hit,' Dempster said. ``Sometimes whether it's injuries or funks or whatever sometime they take a little while to get out of.'
With the bases loaded in the eighth, Soriano hit a two-out RBI single off reliever Danys Baez.
NOTES: Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano completed has anger management sessions and reported to Arizona on Thursday to resume throwing. He has been on the restricted list since June 29, and has not been with the club since his June 25 dugout tirade that led to a verbal confrontation with Lee. The Cubs do not have a timetable on Zambrano's return to the majors. ... Phillies INF Placido Polanco began a rehab assignment with Single-A Clearwater on Thursday night and went 1 for 4 with a run scored. ... Ramirez had his first two-double game since July 24, 2009, against the Reds.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved