Wood blown save gives Brewers last laugh over Cubbies
By: By RICK GANO, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Prince Fielder came charging around third base like a runaway 270-pound bull. He barreled full force into Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, who somehow kept his feet and held onto the ball while tagging out the bulky Brewers star.
That play in the sixth inning Thursday exemplified the emotion that rolls from the first pitch to the final out when the two NL Central rivals go at one another these days.
“They’re big games here. Anytime we can win here, on the road against the Cubs, it is a big win for us,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said after his team got to Cubs closer Kerry Wood for three runs in the ninth inning of a 4-3 victory.
In other NL games, it was: Philadelphia 3, San Diego 2; Los Angeles 5, Florida 3; and Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2.
The Brewers squandered an 81/2 game lead in June last season as the Cubs caught and passed them to win the division. But so far this season, Milwaukee has won four of six and captured both of their three-game series — all at Wrigley Field.
After a lopsided 19-5 loss on Wednesday night, the Brewers bounced back.
“This is the type of game that we wouldn’t have necessarily won last year,” said Ryan Braun, whose two-run double in the ninth gave Milwaukee the lead.
“I think having gone through the experience and knowing how to control our emotions in a situation like that helped.”
Wood (2-1) blew his third save in seven chances and wasted a fine performance by Carlos Zambrano, who allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings and helped himself with his 13th career homer — tying the team record held by Ferguson Jenkins.
“They got a great team and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we have games like that,” said Wood, who also gave up three ninth-inning runs — in a non-save situation — against Milwaukee in the season opener.
With the Cubs ahead 3-1, Wood hit leadoff batter Craig Counsell in the ninth and pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler doubled over the head off left fielder Alfonso Soriano — who came off the disabled list Thursday after being sidelined with a strained right calf.
Should Soriano have caught the ball?
No one was sure, but Chicago manager Lou Piniella — known for his past meltdowns — became perturbed and raised his voice when asked if Soriano should have even been in the game at that point.
Reed Johnson, who started in center, had been replaced by Felix Pie in the eighth, and Piniella was asked if he considered moving Johnson to left.
“You damn right I thought about it,” an agitated Piniella said. “You think I’m stupid or something? God darnit.”
Braun homered in the sixth and went 3-for-5 with three RBI. Brian Shouse (2-0) got the final out in the eighth and Eric Gagne pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 13 chances.
“The way Zambrano was throwing the ball and the loss yesterday, I think it speaks volumes to our character and resiliency,” Braun said.
Phillies 3, Padres 2
Ryan Howard hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning to lift Philadelphia to the win.
Tom Gordon (3-2) pitched a perfect eighth and Brad Lidge retired the side in the ninth for his seventh save in as many chances.
The slumping Howard connected off Joe Thatcher (0-3) leading off the eighth, driving one into the right-field seats. The 2006 NL MVP also had an RBI double against starter Randy Wolf. Howard is batting just .184 with six homers and 14 RBIs.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer for visiting San Diego.
Dodgers 5, Marlins 3
Matt Kemp drove in the tiebreaking run with a ninth-inning single and visiting Los Angeles completed its second consecutive series sweep.
The Dodgers have won six straight, their longest winning streak since taking seven in a row to close the 2006 season. The Marlins have lost three in a row for the first time this year.
With the score 3-all, Rafael Furcal led off the ninth with a walk against Kevin Gregg (3-2), advanced on Juan Pierre’s sacrifice and scored on Kemp’s single.
Joe Beimel (3-0) threw one pitch, retiring Jeremy Hermida on a popup to end the eighth. Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in six chances.
Cody Ross hit his first home run for the Marlins.
Nationals 3, Pirates 2
Austin Kearns broke a tie with a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, and host Washington ran its winning streak to a season-high four games.
After Cristian Guzman singled and Nick Johnson was hit by a pitch, Kearns drove an outside pitch to right off John Grabow (1-1) to score Guzman, who barely beat the throw from Xavier Nady.
Luis Ayala (1-1) pitched the eighth to get the victory in a game played at a torrid pace — two hours, four minutes. Jon Rauch worked the ninth for his sixth save.
Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Doumit homered for Pittsburgh.