Wood Uses Lumber to Help Cubs Win
They came by the thousands, intent on helping their Cubs break a 58-year losing streak in postseason road games by transforming Turner Field into Wrigley Field South.
Kerry Wood gave up only two hits and drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the sixth inning off Russ Ortiz, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of their National League division series Tuesday night.
The roar from Cub fans was enormous when Wood drove in two runs with a drive to the wall in left-center, breaking a 1-1 tie.
“They’ve been following us all year,” Wood said. “It sounded like half and half.”
Offense aside, it was Wood’s work on the mound that really stood out.
“He wanted this badly,” Manager Dusty Baker said. “A good pitcher turned into a great pitcher.”
Wood struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings. The only major slip-up came in the third, when Marcus Giles homered.
“To give up two hits in 7 1/3 innings to that team and also drive in the winning run, I’d say he was pretty locked in for this game,” said Joe Borowski, who struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
Lost in the hoopla over Chicago’s 95-year drought without a World Series title was this little nugget: The Cubs had lost eight straight postseason road games since Claude Passeau pitched a one-hitter to beat Detroit in Game 3 of the 1945 World Series.
Of course, the Cubs lost that World Series, falling to the Tigers in seven games. They’ve lost 10 straight postseason series since winning their last World Series title in 1908.
Now, the Cubs will go into Game 2 tonight with a chance to take command of the best-of-five series. At worst, they’ll head back to Chicago with a split at Turner Field and the next two games before their adoring Wrigley rowdies.
Actually, the Cubs must feel like they’re already at home. Thousands of Chicago fans were part of the overflow crowd of 52,043 at Turner Field, which had its first postseason sellout in three years.
“I knew if they traveled from Chicago to Puerto Rico [for games against Montreal], they would go from Chicago to Atlanta,” Baker said.
Ortiz escaped all sorts of trouble through the first five innings -- the most serious jam coming in the fourth when the Cubs loaded the bases with none out. Alex Gonzalez took a called third strike, Paul Bako went down swinging and Wood whiffed to end the threat.
The Cubs started the sixth in identical fashion, loading the bases with none out on singles by Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez and Eric Karros.
After pinch-hitter Randall Simon struck out, Ortiz had a chance to get out of the jam when Bako hit a slow grounder to the right of first baseman Robert Fick. But Fick couldn’t come up with the ball, though second baseman Giles scooped up the ball and got Bako at first.
Alou scored the tying run, breaking Ortiz’s 19-inning scoreless streak dating to the regular season. Two pitches later, Ortiz was knocked out by Wood.
“That’s just two big mistakes and, basically, it cost us the game,” Ortiz said.
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HOW THEY SCORED
THIRD INNING: Braves 1, Cubs 0--Ortiz struck out. Furcal grounded out, first baseman Karros to pitcher Wood. Giles homered to left on a 1-0 count. Sheffield lined out to center fielder Lofton. One run, one hit, no errors, none left on.
SIXTH INNING: Cubs 4, Braves 1--Alou singled to center. Ramirez singled to center, Alou to second. Karros singled to left, Alou to third, Ramirez to second. Simon pinch-hitting for Gonzalez. Simon struck out. Bako grounded out, first baseman Fick to second baseman Giles to pitcher Ortiz, Alou scored, Ramirez to third, Karros to second. Wood doubled to center, Ramirez scored, Karros scored. King pitching. Lofton singled to center, Wood scored. Gryboski pitching. Grudzielanek grounded out, shortstop Furcal to first baseman Fick. Four runs, five hits, no errors, one left on.
EIGHTH INNING: Cubs 4, Braves 2--M.Franco pinch-hitting for Mercker. M.Franco struck out, safe on Wood wild pitch. Furcal struck out. DeRosa pinch-hitting for Garcia. DeRosa walked on a full count, M.Franco to second. Sheffield walked on a full count, M.Franco to third, DeRosa to second. Remlinger pitching. C.Jones grounded into fielder’s choice, shortstop Martinez to second baseman Grudzielanek, M.Franco scored, DeRosa to third, Sheffield out. Farnsworth pitching. A.Jones walked, C.Jones to second. Lopez grounded into fielder’s choice, shortstop Martinez to second baseman Grudzielanek, A.Jones out. One run, no hits, no errors, three left on.