Cubs notch second sweep of Bucs

Cubs notch second sweep of Bucs

CHICAGO -- As the sports adage goes, you need to beat the teams you're supposed to beat.

Well, if the Pirates are one of those teams, then the Cubs are holding true to that belief after completing their second sweep of Pittsburgh this season following a 13-6 win on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez enjoyed huge days at the plate with four hits apiece, as the Cubs lineup pounded out 18 hits.

"It was a good game," Theriot said. "But, more importantly, I think you saw a lot of guys swinging the bats well today."

The Cubs put up 26 runs on 30 hits the past two games against the Pirates, who have been beaten nine straight times by the North Siders.

"You've got to beat the team you're supposed to beat," Ramirez, a former Pirate, said. "If they beat us, everybody would be all over us because we got beat by the Pirates."

With the victory, Chicago now finds itself in first place by a half-game. Manager Lou Piniella could care less about the standings on April 20. He's just happy the team is winning.

"We're playing aggressive," Piniella said. "We've been swinging the bats better. Pitching-wise, some of the things we need to straighten out are moving in the right direction, so you've got to be pleased. Those things all translate into wins. Let's hope it continues. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't."

Theriot went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, while Ramirez contributed four hits and four RBIs, including his fourth homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth.

"I feel pretty good at the plate," Ramirez said. "I can't say I'm right where I want to be because I only had one good day today. When I put a good streak together, then I can tell more."

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster improved to 3-0, although he labored through five innings to earn the win. At one point, he retired 11 straight batters before nearly coughing up a 5-0 lead in the fifth. He was able to strike out Adam LaRoche with the bases loaded to end Pittsburgh's three-run rally in the fifth and stay in line for the victory.

Dempster was upset when he came out of the game after five, but he said it was just frustration over how he nearly let the lead slip away.

"I think I did a poor job of inning management," Dempster said. "I just wasn't happy with myself. I wasn't happy with the way I let that inning get to the point it did. I understand [getting removed from the game]. I was up near 100 pitches and I threw nearly 40 that inning."

"He's got to be able to work out of tough situations," Piniella said. "The fifth inning is tough to pull a pitcher, especially with a lead, because I like to see our starting pitching win games. But at the same time, with Dempster, the more experience he gets in getting out of trouble like that, the better he'll be as the summer goes on."

Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.