Wells, Lee lead Cubs past Braves
It came when he was called up by the Chicago Cubs in May. And the way he’s been pitching, there won’t be a return trip to Triple-A.
“I can’t really put in words, even if I try, to be in the position I’m in when they told me I was going to make a couple of starts early in May,” Wells said Monday night after beating the Atlanta Braves 4-2 for his fourth straight victory.
“It’s rewarding for me,” he added. “It’s been a long journey. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Wells (4-3) gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings, including a homer to Nate McLouth. He got early support when the Cubs scored four runs in the first two innings, including a two-run homer by Derrek Lee off Jair Jurrjens in the first.
Wells nearly made the Cubs’ roster out of spring training as a reliever. But being sent back to Triple-A Iowa allowed him to stretch out as a starter and work on his pitches. Now the rookie has become a key member of the Cubs’ rotation.
“Sitting in Iowa for three or four years, whatever it was, you are on the cusp,” Wells said. “All you can ask for is the shot, get an opportunity to show you can play.”
Jurrjens (6-7) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings, including Lee’s 16th homer.
Lee has been swinging a strong bat since mid-May, helping the Cubs make up for the absence of Aramis Ramirez, who returned Monday after two months on the DL with a dislocated shoulder.
“Basically he’s been carrying us,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Lee, who has four homers in the last five games.
Ramirez got a loud ovation in his first at-bat. He went 0-for-4.
“I want to go out there and play. That’s what I get paid to do and finally I’m doing it,” said Ramirez, who was admittedly rusty. “Of course, I haven’t played in two months. I went down to the minors and get nine at-bats, but it’s not the same.”
Lee drove a pitch deep into the left-field bleachers in the first to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs also activated outfielder Reed Johnson and right-hander Angel Guzman from the 15-day disabled list Monday. They optioned right-hander Kevin Hart and outfielder Sam Fuld to Triple-A Iowa and put right-hander David Patton on the 15-day DL with a right groin strain.
Earlier Monday, the Cubs traded infielder Ryan Freel to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named.
Freel, 33, has started at five positions in his career.
, playing the infield and outfield, and has a career .355 on-base percentage with 143 stolen bases.
Freel started the year with Baltimore and later was traded to the Cubs. He was batting .140 overall.