CHICAGO (AP) – Johnny Damon fell a single shy of the cycle, and Tim Wakefield pitched seven strong innings as the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs 8-1 on Sunday night to avoid a three-game sweep.

After struggling in his previous seven starts, Wakefield (5-6) allowed one run and four hits. He didn’t walk a batter after he had walked 25 in his previous six starts.

Damon doubled in the third, homered in the fifth and broke open the game with a two-run triple in the sixth. All that happened after he was robbed of a hit leading off the game.

On the first pitch, Damon sent a soft fly ball down the left-field line. Jason Dubois rushed over and made a diving catch to rob Damon of a potential single or double.

Damon walked in the eighth and flied to right in the ninth.

Derrek Lee had two hits for Chicago, which was trying for a sweep of the first series between the teams since the 1918 World Series.

The series at Wrigley Field was the first meeting in the regular season between the teams known more for their curses than their postseason success until the Red Sox broke through and won the World Series last season.

Kevin Youkilis homered with two outs in the first, and Damon made it 2-0 in the fifth when he pulled a 1-1 pitch into the right-field stands. That made Damon the 30th active player with 1,000 runs.

Damon’s two-run triple in the sixth made it 5-0 and chased Cubs starter Glendon Rusch (5-2). Kevin Millar started the rally with a leadoff single to left and scored when Wakefield forced Mark Bellhorn at second for the inning’s second out. Damon tripled to left-center, driving in Doug Mirabelli and Wakefield.

After allowing five runs in his previous four starts, Rusch gave up 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings and tied a season high with seven strikeouts.

After scoring 21 runs in the first two games of the series, the Cubs couldn’t figure out Wakefield’s knuckleball. Wakefield had been 2-5 with a 6.97 ERA in his previous seven starts.

Notes: Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano does not expect to miss his next start after spraining his left big toe on an awkward slide into second base Saturday night. “(Saturday) night, when I got home, it was better,” said Zambrano, who is scheduled to start Friday against the Yankees in New York. … Cubs RHP Kerry Wood, on the DL with a sore shoulder, is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday at Triple-A Iowa. … Mirabelli, who had been on the DL since May 20 with a sprained left wrist, started for Boston after being activated from the DL before the game. The Sox sent catcher Kelly Shoppach to Triple-A Pawtucket. … Boston manager Terry Francona will miss Monday’s game at Cincinnati to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. … David Ortiz, Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller were not in the starting lineup.

AP-ES-06-12-05 2251EDT

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