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Maybe it was the disguises.
One game into a series that was 91 years in the making and the White Sox still must be wondering when the Cubs are coming to Comiskey Park. And who was that sure-handed, fleet-footed team in the all-blue uniforms?
With left-fielder Brant Brown making the biggest in a series of good defensive plays, the Cubs beat the Sox 8-3 Monday in an interleague game before a paid crowd of 36,213 at Comiskey Park. They were errorless afield and made things exciting on the bases in the first meaningful game between Chicago's two major-league teams since the 1906 World Series.
"I don't think anybody could have beat us today," Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said. "We played a great ballgame."
The Cubs won their third in a row over American League teams, raising their record to 28-40. The White Sox fell to 30-36. Rookie Jeremi Gonzalez faces the White Sox's Doug Drabek as the series continues Tuesday night.
Teams wore vintage uniforms Monday. The Cubs chose their 1911 road look, with the Sox taking the outfit they wore in the 1917 Series.
But that wasn't the only reason Jim Riggleman's team looked nothing like the group that opened the season 0-14. The Cubs played solidly from the first inning, when Brown's triple highlighted a two-run rally off ex-Cub Jaime Navarro (4-6), until the ninth, when Mel Rojas struck out two in a scoreless inning.
Evanston native Kevin Foster (8-4) didn't have to be perfect to get the victory. He took a 5-0 lead to the mound in the second inning--
thanks to back-to-back doubles by Rey Sanchez and Brian McRae in the second--and never let the White Sox get closer than 6-3.
"They played real good baseball," Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen said. "They came to Comiskey Park to swing the bat, and they did. They played real good defense. Foster pitched a good game."
Brown and catcher Scott Servais gave Foster a lift in the third inning, combining to stop Ray Durham as he tried to score from second.
"The guy in left field made a good throw on Ray," said Lyle Mouton, who hit the game's only homer. "It might have changed the outcome of the game. We might have put more pressure on (Foster)."
With no outs and the bases loaded, Dave Martinez blooped a single into left. Brown, a converted first baseman who throws lefty, moved to his right to retrieve the ball, then fired a strike to Servais to catch Durham. Grace then made a good grab on a hard grounder by Albert Belle, allowing Foster to escape with a 6-2 lead.
The collision between Durham and Servais illustrated how a regular-season game between the two Chicago teams does not compare with scrimmages during spring training and in midseason.
"Scotty was foggy for a while," Grace said. "He was scuffling."
Rookie third baseman Kevin Orie and right-fielder Sammy Sosa helped the Cubs' bullpen with good fielding plays. Orie went behind the bag to take a seventh-inning single away from Belle, who was 0 for 4. Sosa ran forever to grab an eighth-inning drive by Mouton.
Mouton was looking to see if McRae, the Cubs' center-fielder, could catch up to it.
"At the last minute, I saw (Sosa) make the catch," Mouton said. "That's one for the highlight reel. I just wish it was on somebody else's highlight reel."
The Cubs entertained fans with their baserunning late in the game. Thirty-seven-year-old second baseman Ryne Sandberg went from first to third on Orie's groundout to third baseman Chris Snopek. Sosa, who came into the game with five stolen bases, then stole both second and third before scoring on a Sandberg single in the ninth inning.
As Rojas closed out the historic victory, most of the fans still in the stands were on their feet. They were cheering for the Cubs.
"The Sox fans were gone," Guillen said. "Everyone else wanted to beat the traffic, and not get booed by the Cub fans."