Originally created 09/29/05

Pirates squeak by Cubs, 3-2

CHICAGO - The Cubs' disappointing season at Wrigley Field came to a close as rookie Nate McLouth homered for the third straight day to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over Chicago 3-2 Wednesday.

Chicago finished 38-43 at Wrigley Field and must sweep a four-game series at Houston to finish at.500 overall.

Paul Maholm (3-1), in his sixth major league start, outpitched Mark Prior (11-7) who lost to Pittsburgh for the first time in his career. Maholm, a 23-year-old left-hander, gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.

McLouth's fourth homer of the season, a solo shot, gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead in the fifth against Prior. Dropping to 6-1 in 11 starts against the Pirates. Prior allowed three runs - one earned - and six hits in five innings with seven strikeouts and four walks.

Maholm allowed one hit in the first four innings, a single by Prior in the third.

Jose Macias lead off the sixth with his first homer of the season, driving in Chicago's first run. Derrek Lee singled and Nomar Garciaparra, whose costly error in the second led to two unearned runs, doubled off the right-field wall. Matt Murton pulled the Cubs within a run with an RBI grounder to shortstop.

Salomon Torres pitched a scoreless eighth and gave up a single to Matt Murton in the ninth. Mike Gonzalez relieved, Jeromy Burnitz reached on second baseman J.J. Furmaniak's throwing error and Gonzalez walked Henry Blanco, loading the bases with no outs.

Gonzalez earned his third save in three chances by striking out Corey Patterson and pinch-hitter Ben Grieve, then retiring Macias on a popup.

Prior was shaky from the outset, hitting leadoff batter Freddy Sanchez and walking two before pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the first.

Humberto Cota and Furmaniak singled in the second and, one out later, Sanchez hit a perfect double-play grounder to Garciaparra at third, but his throw to second sailed high into right field for an error that allowed Cota to score. Furmaniak moved to third and scored on Jason Bay's two-out single, which gave him 100 RBIs for the season.

Notes: Sanchez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a fourth-inning single.... Bay has played in all 159 Pirates games this season.... Cubs rookie INF Ryan Theriot was unavailable after getting food poisoning.... The Pirates (65-94) have Thursday off and then close out the season with a three-game series at home against Milwaukee.... Pittsburgh is 10-13 since Pete Mackanin took over as interim manager.... Macias' homer was his first in a year and a day. He homered against Cincinnati on Sept. 27, 2004. He hit three last season.... The grounds crew led the singing during the seventh-inning stretch.... The announced attendance on an overcast day was 37,491. The Cubs drew 3,099,992 for 80 home dates, the second-largest attendance figure in club history.... It began raining steadily in the eighth.


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