The Cubs haven't been to a World Series in 55 years, while the White Sox have been Series-free for the last 41 years.
That fact of life tends to magnify the importance of the crosstown classic, and first-time participants understand that reality right away.
"You don't want to go down as the goat in one of these games," Cubs infielder Chad Meyers said. "You want to be the hero."
Meyers stepped up when the Cubs needed him most Sunday, beating out a potential double-play grounder in the ninth inning to bring home the winning run in a 6-5 Cubs victory before 43,158 at Comiskey Park.
"That was my biggest RBI by far," Meyers said. "Heck, it was my biggest groundout too."
Todd Van Poppel notched his first victory as a Cub with 21/3 innings of hitless relief and Rick Aguilera recorded his 12th save when he retired Frank Thomas on a fly ball to end the wild three-game series.
"It was emotional," Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "You have to be here to experience it."
The Cubs snapped the Sox's winning streak at six games and prevented a sweep by scoring four runs in the final three innings.
The Sox hit five home runs off Cubs starter Ismael Valdes, including two by Jose Valentin and one apiece by Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez and Ray Durham. But the bullpen blew a three-run lead for James Baldwin, denying Baldwin his 10th victory.
"It's OK," Baldwin said. "It's going to happen. I can't go 30-1. Sometimes you get some tough breaks."
With Cleveland losing in extra innings to Cincnnati, the Sox kept their two-game lead in the American League Central heading into their trip to Jacobs Field on Monday night.
The game was tied 5-5 in the ninth when Sox rookie Jesus Pena gave up a single to Eric Young and a bloop single to Brant Brown, who had three hits in his return to the Cubs. Sox manager Jerry Manuel left the left-handed Pena in to pitch to Sammy Sosa, and his only instructions were to be careful and not give Sosa anything to hit.
"[Walking Sosa] was totally up to [Pena]," Manuel said. "He did a good job and Sammy did a good job accepting the walk."
Meyers hit a potential double-play grounder to Valentin and barely beat Durham's relay throw to score Young with the go-ahead run. Manuel said the infield may have been playing too far back.
For a while, it looked as though a Sox sweep was inevitable. Baldwin was pitching well, and showed some emotion in the sixth.
With two on and none out, Baldwin struck out Willie Greene and Glenallen Hill on called third strikes and induced Henry Rodriguez to fly out to escape damage.
While making his turtle-like walk off the mound, Baldwin held his arms aloft like he had just won the heavyweight championship and began pumping his fists as he approached the dugout. Even though Durham and Valentin hit back-to-back homers off Valdes in the sixth to make it 5-2, Baldwin's victory gesture was premature.
He hit a batter and issued a walk to start the seventh and was removed to a standing ovation. Kelly Wunsch gave up an RBI single to Young, and Sosa hit a two-run double to right-center off Bill Simas to tie the game 5-5.
Cubs salvage one
Stash the brooms. The Cubs salvaged a win while the Sox look ahead to Cleveland.
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