CHICAGO Carlos Zambrano pitched seven strong innings, and Aramis Ramirez and Felix Pie homered last night as the surging Chicago Cubs beat the Mets 71 for their 12th win in 15 games.
Zambrano (31) allowed five hits and a run with two walks and four strikeouts. Chicago's ace was backed by four double plays, including one in the sixth started by shortstop Ronny Cedeno that doused a big inning for the Mets and was a key play.
Ramirez, who raised his average Sunday from .234 to .275 with four hits, homered to left-center after Derrek Lee led off the fourth with a single off John Maine (12). Ramirez, who has five homers, has reached base in all 19 of the Cubs' games. Cedeno delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single off Aaron Heilman to make it 41 in the eighth before Pie greeted reliever Jorge Sosa with a three-run homer to cap the Cubs' five-run eighth. It was the first homer for Pie, who came in batting .143 and entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the eighth.
With the Cubs leading 20 in the sixth, New York's Endy Chavez hit a leadoff double and easily made third when Maine bunted and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto threw late to third, putting runners at the corners with no outs. But Jose Reyes grounded to Cedeno, who stepped on the bag and was able to barely double up the speedy Reyes with his throw to first as New York's first run scored. Luis Castillo then beat out an infield single and stole second, and David Wright walked before Zambrano got Carlos Beltran on a fly to left.
Reyes made an error on Lee's grounder to the start the bottom of the eighth. Heilman hit Ramirez with a pitch and Kosuke Fukudome singled to cap a 10-pitch at-bat and load the bases. Mark De-Rosa struck out and Soto popped up, but Cedeno delivered a single up the middle on a 12 pitch. Pie then homered to right.