Derrek Lee reached the big 3-0 in quick fashion -- and then added one more.
On a drizzly Labor Day, Lee belted two homers off two pitches, connecting twice for the second time in three days, to back Ted Lilly and lead the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
With Monday's win, the Cubs avoided falling to .500 for the first time since they finished the first half of the season 43-43. The Pirates, on the other hand, are now guaranteed their 17th straight losing season.
Lilly (11-8) served up two hits -- a solo homer to Andy LaRoche in the third and an RBI double to Brandon Moss in the fifth -- over six innings. The lefty struck out seven, and now has fanned 78 over his last 92 innings while walking 15.
Lee, who hit a pair of homers Saturday in New York, smacked his 30th homer off the first pitch he saw from Daniel McCutchen (0-1) with two outs in the first, and connected again with two outs in the third, driving in Ryan Theriot, who had singled. And again, Lee launched the first pitch he saw from McCutchen for No. 31.
It was his 22nd career multi-homer game, and Lee now is the eighth Cubs player to have three seasons of at least 30 homers, joining Sammy Sosa (11 seasons), Ernie Banks (seven), Billy Williams (five), Ron Santo (four), Hank Sauer (four), Hack Wilson (four) and Aramis Ramirez (three). The 31 home runs are the most for Lee since he belted 46 in 2005.
The Cubs first baseman is 5-for-10 with four homers and six RBIs in his last three games since the birth of his son, Dylan, on Thursday, and on pace to set a career high in RBIs. He has 96; his personal high is 107.
The Pirates opted to intentionally walk Lee in the fifth with two on and one out, and Ramirez flew out to left. But a run scored on Milton Bradley's infield hit.