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Sox get that grand feeling
Shawn Estes made his mark in Yankees-Mets lore last summer when he failed to plunk Roger Clemens in Clemens' first start against the Mets since throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series.
Estes made his mark in the White Sox-Cubs rivalry Friday, and it was only slightly less embarrassing than the Clemens affair. The Cubs left-hander walked four of the first seven batters he faced before serving up a grand slam to Miguel Olivo and lasted only one inning in a 12-3 loss to the Sox before 39,080 at Wrigley Field.
Manager Jerry Manuel put it on cruise control the rest of the afternoon in the Sox's most lopsided victory over the Cubs since the city series began in 1997.
"If we blow that game you would be stacked up here left and right [saying], 'Get out of town, Jerry,'" Manuel said with a laugh.
Jon Garland yielded two runs in six innings, improving to 5-6. The Cubs are a half-game ahead of Houston in the National League Central, while the Sox are 51/2 games behind Minnesota in the American League Central.
Estes was booed off the mound after the six-run first and removed between innings. But even one inning was a bit longer than most Cubs fans wanted to see of Estes, whose ERA soared to 5.80.
"I really don't have a whole lot to say about it," Estes said. "I have no idea. I really don't. I just hope I can wake up [Saturday] and realize it was a dream. It wasn't one of those outings you want to remember, so this will go in the round file in a hurry."
After back-to-back one-out walks to Jose Valentin and Frank Thomas, Estes (6-6) gave up a run-scoring single to Magglio Ordonez. He loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Joe Crede, then thought he got out of the inning when Aaron Rowand seemed to go around on a check swing with two strikes.
But first-base umpire Gerry Davis ruled Rowand held up and Estes subsequently walked him to force in the second run.
In Thursday's loss to Cincinnati, Troy O'Leary was called out on a controversial check swing with the bases loaded to end the game, causing Cubs manager Dusty Baker to say: "I'm confused about exactly what a check swing is anymore."
Baker may be even more confused after Friday's game. Oliva followed with a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch, ending the suspense early.
"[Estes] couldn't find the plate in that first inning," Baker said. "And when he found it, it was a grand slam. If he doesn't have an explanation, it's tough for me to have one."
Estes, who walked six in a loss to Toronto last weekend, threw 52 pitches, including 27 that actually made it into the strike zone. Several of the 25 balls Estes threw were not only out of the strike zone, they were out of the area code. The Sox poured it on with two runs off rookie Todd Wellemeyer in the second and added four in the fourth in a rally that began when Sammy Sosa lost a fly ball in the sun, turning it into a double.
"Those guys had a big brawl [Thursday]," Thomas said. "So hopefully their guys were a little sore or something. It's one of those things. I don't know if Shawn got loose in the first inning. We were a little fortunate. We'll take it."
The Sox have played in the shadow of the Cubs all season, but Valentin said beating the Cubs doesn't give them any extra motivation.
"We came here to win, we didn't come here to get publicity," Valentin said. "No matter how good we do in this town, the White Sox are not the team from the city of Chicago, and there's nothing you can do.
"You have to keep winning and make the fans make a choice. Sooner or later, no matter who is the best team in town, if one makes it to the playoffs or the World Series and the other doesn't, the people of Chicago are going to come to the park and cheer for the hometown team."