PIRATES NOTEBOOK From PNC Park
Cooled bats: After batting .235 in April and .239 in May, the Pirates' bats came alive in June (.267). In July's first 14 games, the Pirates were hitting. 253, but only .195 in their four-game losing streak from Saturday-Tuesday. The Pirates produced six hits Wednesday.
Road trip: The Pirates will play three games in St. Louis this weekend, then visit Wrigley Field next Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-game set with the Cubs. The Pirates will return home next Thursday for a five-game series against the Houston Astros. The July 28 doubleheader is the first day-night combination at PNC Park.
Showdown: Starting pitchers Todd Ritchie and Kerry Wood came out of the game at almost the same instant. The duel broke up in the seventh inning after Corey Patterson doubled off Ritchie. With one out and Patterson at third base, Cubs manager Don Baylor sent Roosevelt Brown to the plate to pinch-hit for Wood. McClendon countered with left-handed reliever Scott Sauerbeck, prompting Baylor to pinch-hit Gary Matthews Jr. Sauerbeck ended the threat by striking out Matthews and retiring Eric Young on a foul pop-up.
Heat: In a sixth-inning at-bat, the Pirates' Aramiz Ramirez looked at a 99-mph fastball from Wood, who struck out 10 batters in six innings.
Costly walk: Ron Coomer drew a sixth inning walk off Ritchie and scored on Matt Stairs' two-out double that tied the game. "It seems that when I walk someone, they have a knack for scoring. I've been trying to stay away from those walks, but I think I tried to do a little too much on that last pitch and got off my game a little bit." Coomer's walk was Ritchie's only one of the game.
Warm and cozy: Cubs pitcher Kevin Tapani said it's a lot more fun playing on Chicago's North Side when the Cubs are in first place. "You can walk off at Wrigley and go shake hands [with fans] after a game. You always get good support from the fans there. If there ever was a place where you would want to make a home-field advantage work for you, it's there. It's a special place. I don't know if there's a better place in sports to be than to win there with the Cubs."
Hurting: The Pirates have three players on the 15-day disabled list and five on the 60-day list. Due back soon are outfielder Derek Bell (strained right hamstring), infielder Pat Meares (sprained left ankle) and pitcher Terry Mulholland (fractured left index finger). Not expected back are infielder Mike Benjamin (right elbow surgery), pitcher Kris Benson (right elbow surgery), outfielder Adrian Brown (right shoulder surgery), pitcher Francisco Cordova (right elbow) and pitcher Jose Silva (fractured left tibia).