After throwing 130 pitches in the south Florida heat, Cubs starter Kerry Wood was too tired to celebrate his 1-0, two-hit victory over the Marlins before 30,432 at Pro Player Stadium.
"I'm tired, beat, drained, dizzy ... " Wood said. "I was running on fumes, but I've said it a million times before -- we start the game and we want to finish it. I felt like it was my game to lose, and I'm glad they stuck with me."
Manager Dusty Baker stuck with his ace and was rewarded with a sterling effort when the Cubs needed it most.
Coming off his first All-Star performance, Wood outdueled Florida right-hander Brad Penny for his fourth career shutout, temporarily taking the focus off the Cubs' offensive problems.
After Wood walked Ivan Rodriguez with two outs in the ninth, Baker was ready for the hook if Juan Encarnacion reached base. But after going 3-0 on the Marlins' right fielder, Wood threw two quick strikes and then induced a groundball to first to record the first back-to-back complete games of his career.
"I wanted to reward him in the All-Star Game and get his confidence and esteem to an all-time high," Baker said. "That kind of pitching performance stops all kind of bad streaks. We still didn't hit a lot or score a lot, but we won the game.
"At this point, that's all that matters. We needed that game, and we're back to .500. We stretched him out a little bit further than normal, but he was throwing the ball well. That was Woody's day."
Penny (8-7) took a perfect game into the fifth before Moises Alou doubled and advanced on an Hee Seop Choi grounder that Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted for an error. The Cubs' Alex Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly, and that was all Wood needed.
Wood was aided by a Alou's running catch in the seventh, as well as two caught-stealing throws in the sixth by catcher Paul Bako.
Bako had replaced Damian Miller, who suffered a bruised chest on a foul tip. Bako proceeded to nail Juan Pierre at second on a pitchout, then threw out Luis Castillo attempting to steal second moments later.
"[In] this warm, humid air, it's easy to get loose," Bako said. "If it's April in Chicago, I don't know if that works out too well."
The humidity also affected Wood's ability to grip the ball early, as sweat ran down his right arm and onto his pitching hand.
"As the game went on, I caked [the hand] up with resin and put a bunch of sticky stuff on there to keep me from sweating," Wood said.
Wood gave up only a first-inning double to Rodriguez and a sixth-inning single to Pierre. He walked five, struck out eight and hit a batter.
The outing was a balm to Baker, who had fumed on Friday over his team's lackluster performance.
"I told you I've got that side," Baker said. "I don't like it. Most of the time it's unprovoked. I just didn't like the way we went about business. It's not just losing. It's how you lose too."
Though the offense mustered only four hits on Saturday, Wood managed to make the most of it. The Cubs have scored one run in two games after the break and still managed to split with the red-hot Marlins.
"You can't get worked up about whether we're scoring runs or not," Wood said. "We're going to win with pitching and defense, and we knew coming out of spring training the pitching was going to be a strong point. As a staff, we have to go out there and expect to be in one-run ballgames and expect to keep them from scoring runs."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times