Wood Slams the Sox – Cubs 8, White Sox 3

Game Fifty-Two – Cubs 8, White Sox 3

WP – Travis Wood (5-3) LP – Jake Peavy (6-3) Save – None

wflag-pubThe Cubs posted a season-high fourth win in a row on Thursday afternoon behind a grand performance by Travis Wood. Wood not only limited the White Sox to two runs on a day the wind was blowing out at Wrigley but he became the first Cubs’ pitcher in 41 years to hit a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs hit three longballs on Thursday, but none was bigger than Travis Wood’s grand slam off Jake Peavy in the fourth inning that turned a 2-1 Cubs advantage into a 6-1 lead. Wood became the first Cubs’ pitcher since Jason Marquis in 2008 at Shea Stadium to hit a slam and the first since Burt Hooton in 1972 off Tom Seaver to accomplish the feat at Wrigley. Wood is only the fifth pitcher in Cubs’ history to hit a grand slam. The Cubs’ pitching staff has driven in 19 runs this season, all in the month of May.

Travis Wood’s pitching performance will get lost in his 2-for-3 afternoon at the plate. Travis Wood posted his tenth quality start of the season after allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings. Wood kept the Sox off balance and was able to limit the damage early when the Sox appeared to be on the verge of a big inning. Wood turned the game over to the pen in the seventh after throwing only 88 pitches, 56 for strikes.

James Russell and Zach Putnam, in his Cubs’ debut, kept the Sox off the board in the seventh and Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect eighth. Kevin Gregg allowed his first run of the season after not getting the call on a couple of two-strike pitches in the ninth.

The bottom of the Cubs’ lineup led the way on Thursday. Six through nine in Dale Sveum’s order went 8-for-14 with a double, two home runs, six RBI, seven runs scored, a walk and a HBP. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a RBI, two runs scored and a HBP) drove in the first run of the game with a two-out single in the second inning. Luis Valbuena (3-for-4 with a double, a home run and three runs scored) recorded a three-hit day that included his first home run in exactly one month (April 30). Valbuena started the two-run second inning with a two-out double and scored on Barney’s single. Welington Castillo (2-for-4 with a run scored) was on board for Wood’s slam after reaching on a wind-blown infield single.

David DeJesus (1-for-5 with a RBI) singled in Barney with the Cubs’ second run and Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a home run) hit his sixth longball of the season in the fifth inning.

The Cubs scored eight runs on 11 hits, five for extra bases, with three walks and a HBP on Thursday afternoon.

With Thursday’s victory, the Cubs won the season series over the Sox regardless of the outcome of the makeup game from Tuesday’s rainout. The Cubs outscored the South Side 24-6 over the three games and for the first time the Crosstown Cup will reside on the North Side of Chicago for a year.

The Cubs improved to 22-30 on the year with Thursday’s win over the White Sox.

Travis Wood worked his way out of a first inning jam after issuing a leadoff walk to Alejandro De Aza to start the game. After Ramirez blooped out to Barney for the first out, Alex Rios hit a tapper back to Wood on a 3-2 pitch, but Welington Castillo was called for catcher’s interference for the second time this week (tenth inning on Sunday in Cincinnati) and the Sox had runners on first and second with one out. Wood retired Paul Konerko on a blooper to Barney and struck out Dayan Viciedo swinging to end the inning. Wood threw 22 pitches in the first, 14 for strikes.

The Cubs put up two runs in the second inning on four consecutive two-out hits. Luis Valbuena doubled to right center (3-2 pitch) for the Cubs’ first hit of the game. Darwin Barney followed with a long single to left. Valbuena scored, 1-0 Cubs. Travis Wood followed with a single to left. Barney held at second with two outs. David DeJesus then drove Peavy’s first pitch into center. Barney scored, 2-0 Cubs. Wood tripped rounding second and could not advance to third. Starlin Castro flied out to deep right center to end the inning.

The Sox got one of the runs right back in the third, but it could have been more. Wood walked De Aza for the second time to start the inning. Alexei Ramirez followed with a single to center. The ball hit off the second base bag and Barney could not haul it in. De Aza held at second with no outs. Travis Wood made arguably his biggest pitch of the game on a 1-1 offering to Rios. Rios pulled the grounder to third. Valbuena started the around the horn double play (5-4-3) as De Aza advanced to third. Paul Konerko singled to left center, De Aza scored and cut the Cubs’ lead to 2-1. Wood then struck out Viciedo swinging to end the inning. Wood needed 53 pitches, 34 for strikes, to complete three innings.

The game remained 2-1 Cubs until the bottom of the fourth.

Welington Castillo reached on a wind-blown infield single. Castillo popped up a 1-1 pitch from Peavy that landed in for a single. Luis Valbuena followed with a long single off the ivy in right. Castillo advanced to third with no outs. Peavy then hit Barney to load the bases.

Travis Wood stepped in and looked at two straight out of the strike zone … then pulled a 2-1 pitch from Jake Peavy into the bleachers in left center. Wood’s second longball of the season, a grand slam, put the Cubs up 6-1. DeJesus grounded out to short and Castro fouled out to Konerko. Anthony Rizzo drove a 1-0 pitch into the gap in left center and ended up at third with his second triple of the season. Soriano flied out to De Aza at the wall in deep center to end the inning.

After four complete, the Cubs had a 6-1 lead and knocked Jake Peavy out of the game.

Travis Wood put together a 1-2-3 shutdown inning in the fifth.

Nate Schierholtz pulled his sixth homer of the season into the bleachers in right to start the fifth against Nate Jones. Castillo followed with a single to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Valbuena flied out to center for the first out. Castillo tried to advance on Jones’ second wild pitch of the inning but could not stop his slide at third and was called out. Barney grounded out to second to end the inning.

The White Sox chipped into the Cubs 7-1 lead in the sixth. Alex Rios led off with a double to left center and scored on a Paul Konerko double into the left field corner. Viciedo flied out to deep left for the first out. Wood retired Gillaspie on a liner to center and Keppinger on a grounder to short to end the inning.

The Cubs took the 7-2 lead into the eighth. Luis Valbuena led off the eighth with his sixth longball of the season. Valbuena pulled a 0-1 pitch from Brian Omogrosso into the right field bleachers.

Kevin Gregg replaced Marmol for the ninth with the Cubs up 8-2. Jeff Keppinger reached on a one-out single and advanced to second when Gregg walked Hector Gimenez with two outs. Alejandro De Aza singled to center on a 2-2 pitch. Keppinger scored to make it 8-3 but Alexei Ramirez grounded out to third (2-2 pitch) to end the game.

The Cubs open a three-game series against Paul Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks on Friday afternoon. Matt Garza is scheduled to face lefty Wade Miley in the opener.

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