CHICAGO On his 65th birthday, Lou Piniella found himself in the middle of a noisy celebration. He can thank Aramis Ramirez for stirring up the party.
Ramirez hit a grand slam in the eighth inning Thursday night as the surging Chicago Cubs rallied for five runs to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 for their sixth straight win.
"What a great come-from-behind win. Just a great win. I mean, exciting," Piniella said. "This place really got loud. ... I don't know if it was the loudest I've heard it, but let me tell you what, it was loud."
Wrigley Field wasn't rocking so much through the first seven innings. Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels was cooling off the Cubs, allowing just a run and five hits.
But the Phillies' bullpen, which failed to hold an eighth-inning lead Wednesday night in a tough loss to the Mets, faltered again and a 4-1 lead evaporated.
The surging Cubs moved to 34 games over .500. Ramirez sent the roaring 40,362 fans into a tizzy when he drove reliever Chad Durbin's pitch into the center field bleachers to complete the comeback.
"I mean I've been able to do that since I was in the minor leagues," Ramirez said. "I've always been able to drive in runs, it's something I'm proud of and I like to be in that situation late in the game."
The game marked the first time instant replay was available for boundary home run calls, but it wasn't used.
Reliever Ryan Madson gave up three straight hits to start the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot homered leading off to make it 4-2, Alfonso Soriano doubled and moved to third on Ryan Theriot's single.
Durbin (5-3) relieved and walked Derrek Lee to load the bases with no outs. Ramirez then hit a 1-0 pitch deep into the seats Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino hardly moved as the ball left the bat to give the Cubs the lead with his 24th homer.
"(Fontenot) hit a homer and all of a sudden it's a two-run game and we got the top of our lineup coming. Soriano got on base and Theriot got on base. ... We got a good team," Ramirez said.
With the loss, the Phillies dropped a full game behind the idle Mets in the NL East. The Cubs lead Milwaukee by 6 1/2 in the NL Central.
"We shouldn't be going through this. This is our time to hold these leads and it's our job. We're not getting it done right now," Madson said.
Durbin was just as disappointed.
"Yeah, to think about how well Cole threw the ball and how well our guys put at-bats up against Dempster, it's a tough one," he said.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who'd pitched out of trouble all game, gave up a leadoff double to Jayson Werth in the sixth, walked Pedro Feliz and then surrendered a go-ahead RBI single to No. 8 hitter Carlos Ruiz. Hamels sacrificed, Jimmy Rollins hit a sacrifice fly and Chase Utley followed with an RBI single, his third hit of the game, to put the Phils up 4-1.
But the Phillies couldn't hold it.
"That was a situation where we couldn't get people out. Actually the last game and most of the last games that we've lost, that's kind of how it's been," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Bob Howry (6-4) pitched the eighth for the win. Kerry Wood gave up a leadoff single to Rollins in the ninth and a long warning track fly ball to Utley before getting his 28th save in 33 chances.
NATIONALS 11, DODGERS 2: At Washington, Cristian Guzman hit for the cycle and Elijah Dukes had two home runs, helping the Nationals to a romp over the struggling Dodgers. The Dodgers have now lost seven straight, and their nine consecutive road losses are the most since dropping 11 in a row in June 1992. Los Angeles dropped 3 1/2 games back of idle Arizona in the NL East.
ASTROS 3, REDS 2: At Houston, Ty Wigginton homered twice off Aaron Harang, Brandon Backe was sharp into the seventh and the Astros beat the Reds. Humberto Quintero added a solo shot to help the Astros beat the Reds for the 10th time in 12 meetings this season. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless eighth and Jose Valverde struck out the side in the ninth for his 35th save. Backe (9-12) had one of his best outings of an inconsistent month, allowing six hits and striking out six in 6 2/3 innings. He was 2-2 in his previous four decisions, allowing 11 runs in each of the losses and a total of four runs in the two wins.
Harang (4-14) matched a season high with nine strikeouts, but lost for the fifth time in six decisions. His 29 homers allowed are the most by a Reds' pitcher this season.
BRAVES 4, MARLINS 2: At Atlanta, Brian McCann hit a three-run homer, Charlie Morton finally figured out how to pitch at home and the Braves beat slumping Florida. The Marlins are 10-15 in August, haven't won two games in a row this month and fell six games behind the idle New York Mets in the NL East. Florida begins a critical three-game series at home against the Mets tonight. Morton (4-8) had been 0-6 with an 8.18 ERA this season at Turner Field, but the rookie right-hander went six innings and allowed only four hits and two runs. Mike Gonzalez came on in the ninth and struck out the side to pick up his seventh save in seven attempts and 37th consecutive save overall.
YANKEES 3, RED SOX 2: At New York, Jason Giambi came off the bench to hit a tying homer in the seventh inning and the winning single in the ninth, helping the Yankees salvage the finale of a three-game series and win in Boston's final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium. Mariano Rivera (5-5) entered a tie game in the eighth and pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings for the win, helping the Yankees overcome another poor performance by Alex Rodriguez. Rested against lefty Jon Lester, Giambi pinch hit with two outs in the seventh and connected for a two-run homer off Hideki Okajima that tied the score 2-all.
Justin Masterson (4-4) loaded the bases in the ninth, and Giambi lined Jonathan Papelbon's 0-2 pitch, driving in pinch-runner Brett Gardner with the winning run.
RAYS 3, BLUE JAYS: At St. Petersburg, Fla., Edwin Jackson took a shutout into the eighth inning, Cliff Floyd and Willy Aybar each homered and the Rays guaranteed they will finish no worse than .500 for the first time in franchise history. Tampa Bay, 81-51 and an AL-best 49-19 at home, is 11-0-1 in series play since the All-Star break. The Rays extended their lead in the AL East over Boston to 4 1/2 games.
Jackson (11-8) gave up one run and six hits over seven-plus innings in winning for the sixth time in his last seven starts. He departed after allowing Alex Rios' double to start the eighth.
Rios scored on Adam Lind's single and Rod Barajas added an RBI double, but Jose Bautista struck out to end the inning and Dan Wheeler pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
Floyd put Tampa Bay up 2-0 with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a solo homer in the third, and Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead when Aybar homered off Jesse Litsch (9-8) in the sixth. Aybar, who entered in an 1-for-16 slide, had three hits in four at-bats.
ANGELS 7, RANGERS 5: At Anaheim, Calif., pinch-hitter Juan Rivera doubled off the wall in right-center to drive in three runs in a five-run eighth inning and help the Los Angeles Angels rally to a win. The Angels' Jon Garland (12-8) pitched eight innings, allowing five runs and eight hits. He struck out three and walked one. Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 51st save in 56 chances, six saves short of Bobby Thigpen's major league record set in 1990.
Jamey Wright (6-6) replaced starter Brandon McCarthy to start the eighth with the Rangers leading 5-2. Wright allowed two singles, two walks, and was charged with four runs.
The win increased the Angels' AL West lead over second-place Texas to 16 games and reduced Los Angeles' magic number to 13 for clinching their fourth division title in five years.
ATHLETICS 3, TWINS 2: At Oakland, Calif., pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki doubled in the winning run with one out in the ninth inning to give Oakland back-to-back victories for first time since July 10-11. Joey Devine (4-0) pitched the eighth to pick up the victory for the A's, who went 40 games without a winning streak. It was Suzuki's double marked Oakland's ninth walkoff hit of the season and just the 11th victory since the All-Star break for the hapless A's.
Ryan Sweeney led off the ninth with a single off loser Craig Breslow (0-2), then moved to second on Daric Barton's sacrifice. Suzuki hit a 3-1 pitch from Jesse Crain off the wall in left-center.