Better Late Than Never: Cubs top Angels in 15

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Derrek Lee recorded a career-high five hits, and Todd Walker's RBI single gave the Cubs a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Anaheim Angels in 15 innings Sunday. Rookie right-hander Jon Leicester (1-0) picked up the victory as the Cubs' seventh relief pitcher on the day in a game that totaled 5 hours and 8 minutes.

The Cubs had held late-inning leads twice before the 15th--once in the eighth and again in the 11th.

In the eighth, Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI double to score Moises Alou and then later scored himself on a wild pitch from RHP Scot Shields to give the Cubs a 4-1 advantage.

In the bottom half, though, David Eckstein walked, stole second and scored on Vladimir Guerrero's RBI single. That set the stage for Garret Anderson's game-tying two-run homer off Kyle Farnsworth to even the score at 4-4. Then in the 11th, the second baseman Walker managed to beat out a bang-bang force play at second that scored Lee and gave the Cubs the lead at 5-4.

But in the bottom half of the inning, the Rally Monkey was alive and well once more for the home team.

Pinch-hitter Robb Quinlan led off with a single to right off RHP LaTroy Hawkins, and later moved into scoring position on shortstop Alfredo Amezaga's sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Jose Molina reached first on an infield hit that bounced off the top of home plate to put the tying run at third with two outs.

Guerrero would proceed to follow through with a softly-hit single into center field to score Quinlan and send the game into the 12th.

Finally, in the 15th, Lee recorded his fifth hit in as many at-bats with a leadoff single to center off RHP Matt Hensley (0-1). The speedy Corey Patterson then managed to reach first with a bunt single down the third base line, and two batters later, Walker stepped up and delivered the game-winner on an RBI single to right. Lee missed batting for the cycle by only a triple, recording three singles, a double and a homerun. He has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games.

Leicester (1-0) worked the final three innings in relief for the win. In just his second major league appearance since being promoted from AAA-Iowa earlier this month, the right-hander struck out two and allowed just one hit, a one-out single to Tim Salmon in the bottom of the 15th. He rebounded to retire Casey Kotchman on strikes and Quinlan on a fly ball for the victory.

Neither starter, Matt Clement or Kelvim Escobar, factored in the decision. Clement went six strong innings, giving up one run (an RBI single to Guerrero in the first inning) on six hits while striking out eight. Escobar gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings but was let off the hook on Anderson's game-tying two-run shot in the eighth. Clement had gotten into trouble early, throwing 51 pitches in the first two innings before settling down nicely.

NOTES: Todd Hollandsworth, starting in place of right fielder Sammy Sosa made a heroic two-out catch to rob Kotchman of extra bases in the bottom of the 12th. Hollandsworth finished 1-for-6 on the day. Meanwhile, Sosa made his first rehab start with the AA-West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx and went 1-for-2 with a single, a walk and a strikeout. Sosa is expected to join the Cubs in time for next weekend's three-game home series with the Oakland Athletics at Wrigley Field. Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, also in a rehab start, went 0-for-3 Sunday at AAA-Iowa but finished 4-for-6 with a homerun in Saturday's 10-6 victory over Oklahoma. Grudzielanek has four hits in 15 at-bats (.267) with two doubles while at AAA. The Iowa Cubs have won seven straight games and eight of their last nine.

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