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Ramirez's huge night leads Cubs
Aramis Ramirez is so hot, he may hear the sounds of cash registers ringing in his sleep.
Ramirez went 4-for-5 with two home runs and a career-high seven RBIs on Monday night in the Cubs' 11-6 victory over Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's a great finish, he's finishing strong," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "And, boy, it came right on time for us."
Juan Pierre and Scott Moore also homered as the Cubs won for the sixth time in eight games and put a minor dent in the Phillies' wild-card dreams.
The last Cub with seven RBIs in a game was Corey Patterson on Opening Day 2003 at New York. Ramirez's two-homer night made him the sixth player in Cubs history with 35 home runs and 35 doubles in a season, joining Derrek Lee, Moises Alou, Sammy Sosa, Hack Wilson and Rogers Hornsby.
After a dreadful April and May, Ramirez is enjoying a finishing kick that may lead to a significant raise, either from the Cubs or elsewhere. He has $22 million guaranteed on the remainder of his contract, which includes an opt-out clause after this season that allows him to renegotiate or become a free agent.
Ramirez insisted his future is in his agent's hands.
"I just go out there and play the game," he said. "I'm not that smart to be thinking about playing the game and my contract at the same time. I've been pretty consistent the last few years. Whatever happens, happens."
The Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, Philadelphia and Detroit are expected to take a run at Ramirez if he goes on the market. With an $11 million salary, Ramirez currently is baseball's fifth-highest paid third baseman, behind Alex Rodriguez ($21.7 million), Adrian Beltre ($12.9 million), Scott Rolen ($12.5 million) and Chipper Jones ($12.3 million).
After staking Sean Marshall to an 8-0 lead with a pair of three-run homers off Jon Lieber and Eude Brito, Ramirez watched Marshall nearly fritter it away. After hitting Ryan Howard in the helmet with one out in the fourth, Marshall fell apart. Three straight hits and a walk later, Jose Hernandez followed with a pinch-hit grand slam, making it 8-6 and ending Marshall's night.
Michael Wuertz, who threw two innings of scoreless relief, was credited with the win, while Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect ninth.
Ramirez stole the show from Howard, who failed to add to his league-leading 57 home runs. Baker said Howard would have his MVP vote, if he had one.
"What's weird is I don't hear his name much," Baker said. "When I look up and see what he's donehe's hitting .316and if you take him off this Phillies team, that's a tremendous void."
Howard is chasing Roger Maris' former all-time record of 61 home runs, still regarded by some as a magic number because it occurred before the chemically enhanced era.
"The magic number is 73," Baker said, referring to Barry Bonds' mark. "Magic numbers change. You can't take 'em away. Anything over 30 is great to me. Forty is awesome. Fifty is seemingly impossible. Sixty is way out there. Seventy is over the top."