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Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2003 12:39 AM EDT
Chicago Cubs
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
2 7 1
Pittsburgh Pirates
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
8 10 3
W Vogelsong (2-1)
L Clement (13-12)
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PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The Chicago Cubs are running out of opportunities after wasting another big one.

Ryan Vogelsong pitched a career-high seven innings and Jose Hernandez and Tike Redman each had two-run singles in a five-run fourth as the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs.

Chicago took the field knowing the first-place Houston Astros lost earlier in the day but could not capitalize. The Cubs remained 1 1/2 games behind the Astros in the National League Central Division with just seven games to play.

Chicago also lost ground in the wild card race, falling 2 1/2 games behind the Florida Marlins .

"It's not a question of pressure unless you're talking about the pressure Pittsburgh puts on you," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

"I feel we have our best ball ahead," Chicago catcher Paul Bako added. "If we win six out of seven, which I think we're capable of doing, we'll be fine. Houston's been playing great ball and we have, too."

The Cubs managed just seven hits, including six singles, as they were shut down by Vogelsong (2-1), who gave up an unearned run and five hits while striking out a career-high eight.

"It was really one of those nights where anything the catcher called for, that's where I threw it," Vogelson said. "I just got in one of those grooves where I was throwing it where I wanted to put it."

The game was tied, 1-1, before Chicago starter Matt Clement fell apart in the fifth, walking the first two batters before hitting Carlos Rivera to load the bases.

Abraham Nunez followed with a single to plate Matt Stairs with the go-ahead run. Hernandez's base hit made it 4-1 and Vogelsong singled to load the bases and chase Clement.

"The thing that hurts the most was the three guys that got on first, not so much the hits after," Clement said. "They came through with what I guess are big hits and the game got out of control. I just didn't do the job I wanted to do today. I lost the game."

"(The Pirates) are swinging the bats great," Baker added. "Matty walked two and then put another on and then they got some scratch hits."

Mark Guthrie entered and surrendered Redman's base hit before escaping the jam.

Rivera extended the lead with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Pirates cruised to their ninth win in 14 games.

Slugger Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts as the Cubs lost for just the sixth time in 20 games in September.

Vogelsong retired the first seven batters before Bako reached on an error by first baseman Rivera with one out in the third. Bako advanced on a sacrifice and scored on former Pirate Kenny Lofton 's single for a 1-0 edge.

Pittsburgh tied it in the bottom half as Redman hit a two-out double and scored on a single by Jack Wilson .

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