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Just when everyone is ready to bury the Cubs, they somehow find a way to get back on their feet.
Whether Saturday night's 8-2 comeback victory over Florida signified a real turnaround is unknown, but after being left for dead in Atlanta, the Cubs were satisfied knowing they still have some life left.
Kerry Wood won his first game since April 24, Todd Walker homered and drove in three runs and Derrek Lee added a solo shot in his return to the lineup from shoulder soreness. The Cubs won their second straight over the major-league's stingiest rotation.
After losing four straight to the Braves and eight overall, two victories in a row were a reason to celebrate.
"It was huge to win two in a row," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We haven't done that in a long time."
"That's one of the worst stretches I've ever been in in my career," Lee said. "It was tough. We couldn't get anything going. But we came out and reversed the trend. That's a positive, and we need to keep it going into the break."
The Cubs will go for the sweep Sunday when Greg Maddux faces Marlins left-hander Al Leiter in the final game before the All-Star break.
They're still seven games behind Atlanta for the NL wild-card spot and must start out strong in the second half to vault back into contention.
"We need all the help we can get right now," Walker said. "This has been great for us to come in here and do what we've done so far. We really need that game [Sunday]."
Wood went into the break on a good note, allowing two runs on six hits over 72/3 innings, throwing 105 pitches. Baker even let Wood hit in the seventh before the Cubs scored three in the inning to take a 4-2 lead.
"I wanted to get Woody on the board," Baker said. "That's the best he has been since he has been back [from injury]. Hopefully he can breathe a little easier and get on a roll from here."
Wood has had a difficult two years since signing a three-year, $32.5 million deal before the '04 season, with a combined four months on the disabled list and a lack of consistency from start to start.
He entered Saturday's game with a 2-6 record and a 5.16 earned-run average in his last 15 starts dating to Aug. 22, 2004.
But Wood's only mistakes against the Marlins came in the fifth inning on Jeff Conine's home run and Juan Pierre's two-out run-scoring single that gave Florida a 2-1 lead.
Florida rookie left-hander Scott Olsen, a former Crystal Lake South star, held the Cubs to one run on four hits in six innings before giving way to Guillermo Mota to start the seventh.
Wood said he could have gone longer and believes his arm strength is completely back.
"Stamina-wise, I feel good," Wood said. "I felt like I could have kept going, but it was my third start back, and you don't want to jump the gun too early."
Jerry Hairston's two-out RBI double over the third base bag tied the game 2-2 in the seventh and led to the ejection of Florida manager Jack McKeon, who disputed the call with third-base umpire Jerry Layne.
After McKeon's exit, Walker poked a two-run homer 380 feet to right that gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Walker added an RBI double in the Cubs' four-run ninth, leaving him 9-for-17 (.529) against the Marlins this year. He's now a career .431 hitter against Florida.
"There's no rhyme or reason," Walker said. "Don't ask me to explain this stuff, man. You get shut out for three days [against Atlanta] and then score 17 runs on this staff? I don't have any answers."