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Ohman has monster of time with Matsui
Before every Cubs game, reliever Will Ohman helps broadcaster Len Kasper pick a "word of the day" that Kasper can use during the telecast.
But after Ohman gave up the go-ahead home run to designated hitter Hideki Matsui on Friday night in a 9-6 loss to New York at Yankees Stadium, Ohman didn't mince words.
"I blew it," he said.
Matsui homered and drove in five runs as the Yankees outlasted Carlos Zambrano and kicked around the Cubs bullpen.
Matsui's line drive, two-run homer off Ohman in the seventh erased a one-run Cubs lead after they had overcome an early 4-0 deficit.
"I made a below-average pitch to an above-average hitter and he made me pay for it," Ohman said.
Matsui's two-run double off Mike Remlinger in the eighth killed any hope of a Cubs rally before Mariano Rivera finished things off in the ninth for his 15th save.
"Matsui, this guy killed us all night long," manager Dusty Baker said. "Between he and Gary Sheffield and [Jorge] Posada and A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez]. We have to do something to stop Matsui. This guy can hit.
"It didn't seem to matter if we brought in a left-hander or a right-hander. He's going to hit whoever we bring in there."
The Cubs dropped 7½ games behind division-leading St. Louis. They're 0-5 all-time at Yankee Stadium, dropping two games apiece in the 1932 and 1938 World Series.
Cubs pitchers are having a difficult time stopping anyone, much less "Godzilla." Over their last six games, excluding Sergio Mitre's five-hit shutout over Florida, the Cubs staff has allowed 9.4 runs per game while yielding a whopping .370 average to opposing hitters.
Despite more control problems and yet another slow start, Zambrano lasted 61/3 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and six walks in a 116-pitch effort. It would have been worse if Zambrano hadn't induced four double-play grounders to escape jams in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.
The Cubs bounced back from a 4-0 deficit for the second time in Zambrano's last two starts. They trailed Boston 4-0 last Saturday before posting a 7-6 victory, but they couldn't hold on this time despite knocking starter Carl Pavano out with a three-run sixth.
When Zambrano gave up a seventh-inning, RBI single to Rodriguez to let the Yankees creep to within a run, Baker yanked him in favor of Ohman, who quickly turned the game upside-down.
"The pitch to Matsui was down the heart of the plate," Baker said. "We just have to get better location."
Matsui was involved in the downfall both early and late. A leadoff walk to Matsui started the second inning. After a single by Posada, Zambrano induced Jason Giambi to hit a grounder to third, which Aramis Ramirez turned into a double play.
Bernie Williams, however, grabbed hold of a 98-m.p.h. fastball and ripped an RBI single to right, giving the Yankees first blood.
New York tacked on three runs in the second after Derek Jeter led off with a single and Zambrano walked Sheffield for the second time with one out. Rodriguez's ground-rule double scored Jeter before Matsui's RBI single made it 3-0. The Yanks added another run on Posada's grounder that Enrique Wilson booted at second for an error.
The Cubs answered with two in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Todd Walker and an RBI groundout by Todd Hollandsworth, and pulled to within one in the fifth on Corey Patterson's second double and a single by Derrek Lee. They took a 6-4 lead in the sixth when Henry Blanco ripped a two-out, two-run single off Pavano, but couldn't hold off the Yankees.
"It's a combination of us being in a little funk and facing some teams that have some good hitters on 'em," Baker said.