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Williams dynamite in debut for Cubs
Jerome Williams had five messages on his phone by the time he reached the Cubs locker room on Tuesday night.
"I know one of them is from my father in Hawaii," Williams said. "He probably listened to it on the radio. I know he is going to be happy."
Williams made a tremendous first impression on his new teammates, recording his first big-league victory since Sept 30, 2004, as the Cubs dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 in front of 40,300 at Miller Park.
"My sinker was working, my changeup was working. And the defense was awesome for me too," said Williams, who allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out six after being called up from Triple-A Iowa.
Acquired in the LaTroy Hawkins trade with San Francisco on May 28, Williams missed spring training with the Giants while tending to his father, Glenn, who has a kidney ailment in his native Hawaii. His mother died in 2002 from breast cancer.
"It was very emotional for me," Williams (1-2) said of his outing. "I had a few jitters."
Bill Hall hit solo homers in the second and fourth innings to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
"It was an excellent debut for Jerome," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "If it hadn't been for Billy Hall, they wouldn't have gotten any runs. Billy had a great game over there, but Jerome made the great pitches when he had to. He kept the ball down and worked pretty quickly."
The Cubs scored four runs in the seventh inning off Milwaukee starter Victor Santos (2-7), thanks to a Todd Hollandsworth triple and homers from Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.
"Derrek is not the only guy who is swinging the bat good for us," Baker said. "I told Jerome that if he could keep it close, we have the type of team that can come back."
Hollandsworth led off the inning with a deep drive to right field that turned Geoff Jenkins around and he could not hold on to the ball. Hollandsworth was credited after the game with a triple after the official scorer reversed his call for a tough error. Lee followed with his 20th homer of the season to tie it 2-2. Jeromy Burnitz then reached on second baseman Rickie Weeks' error. Ramirez made the Brewers pay with a 434-foot blast into the left-center field bleachers to make it 4-2. It was his 16th of the year.
Todd Wellemeyer relieved Williams to pitch a scoreless eighth. Ryan Dempster took over in the ninth and promptly retired the first two Brewers before issuing walks to Damian Miller and pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay. Pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo ground out to short to end the threat.
"I didn't much care for walking Damian. I would have much rather said, 'Here, hit it out of the park.' Just throw the fastball," said Dempster, who earned his 10th save. "Overbay was a guy I pitched more carefully to. Here is a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. But I felt stronger as the inning went on."
The victory was the second straight for the Cubs, who entered the series with a four-game losing streak. The Cubs improved their record to 26-2 when they allow fewer than four runs.
"That was a big comeback win for us," Dempster said. "I know [Williams] battled through a lot of things with his shoulder and his family and things like that. For him to come up here and pitch so well is tremendous. You tip your cap to him."