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Schilling narrowly misses shutout in win vs. Cubs

8/17/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Leave it to Sammy Sosa to spoil Curt Schilling's
party.

Schilling became the season's first 20-game winner Friday
afternoon, coming a Sosa homer away from a shutout as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1.

"I tried to get a little macho there at the end,'' Schilling
said with a smile after Sosa's solo homer with two outs in the
ninth. "Not a smart pitch.''

Maybe not, but everything else he threw was dazzling. Schilling
(20-4) scattered six hits over 8 2/3 innings. He struck out 12 and
walked none, and had retired 18 straight when Sosa came to the
plate in the ninth.

He struck out every Cub but Alex Gonzalez at least once, and got
Sosa twice.

"He was everything today, no question,'' Sosa said. "That's
why he's a Cy Young. He was unbelievable today. Very impressive.''

Schilling was one out away from his second shutout of the year
when Sosa came to the plate. But with the count 1-1, Sosa hit a
monster shot to right-center for his major league-leading 42nd home
run.

It was Sosa's 492nd career home run, leaving him one shy of
tying Lou Gehrig for 18th place on the career list.

"That's the kind of matchup the fans look forward to,'' Arizona
manager Bob Brenly said. "And great ballplayers look forward to,
as well.

"In the last at-bat, Sammy won,'' Brenly said. "But on the
day, Schill won.''

Fred McGriff followed Sosa with a single, and Schilling was
relieved by Byung-Hyun Kim, who got his 29th save in 34 attempts.

Moises Alou singled to right and pinch-runner Roosevelt Brown
scampered all the way to third. But Corey Patterson hit a routine
flyout, preserving victory No. 20 for Schilling.

"I'm obviously very proud of it,'' Schilling said, who reached
20 victories for the second time in his career. He was 22-6 last
season.

Schilling is also the fastest to 20 wins since John Smoltz in
1996. Smoltz got his 20th victory in Atlanta's 121st game, one
ahead of Schilling.

"He's a great pitcher,'' Sosa said. "I love to face him
because he's not afraid to challenge you.''

Schilling also was the fastest to 18 victories since 1976, then
needed three tries to get No. 19. He had little trouble Friday --
even though Wrigley Field hasn't exactly been kind to him in the
past.

"I (stink) here,'' Schilling said, laughing. "I've had some
bad ones.''

He came into the game just 1-3 with a save in 11 appearances at
Wrigley, one of the few parks where he has a losing record. His
last win at the Friendly Confines was in 1996, when he was with the
Phillies.

"The Curt Schilling that pitched today was a lot different than
the Curt Schilling that pitched here in the past,'' Brenly said.

And Schilling looked right at home at Wrigley on Friday,
striking out the side in the first inning. Not even the Blue
Angels, screaming overhead as they practiced for this weekend's Air
and Water Show, seemed to bother him.

The Cubs had a runner in scoring position only once in the first
eight innings, when Alou and Gonzalez singled in the second. It was
Schilling's 12th outing with double-digit strikeouts, and the
fourth time in his last five starts that he didn't issue a walk. He
has walked only 19 batters all season.

"A guy like that's pitching, of course you watch,'' Cubs rookie
starter Steve Smyth said. "He's good at locating the ball down and
elevating the ball up.

"If there's someone you want to watch and learn about pitching,
he's one of the guys.''

Smyth (1-1) did fine for a guy making just his third career
start. But fine doesn't cut it when you're facing Schilling.

Smyth allowed two runs -- one earned -- and three hits in six
innings. He struck out four and didn't walk anyone. But the Cubs'
defense let him down in the fourth inning and he got sloppy in the
fifth.

Tony Womack led off with a bunt down the third base line, and
took second on Joe Girardi's wild throw. One out later, Womack
scored on Junior Spivey's sacrifice fly.

Smyth gave the Diamondbacks another run in the fifth inning on a
wild pitch. Matt Williams led off with a double off the right-field
wall, and Steve Finley followed with a sharp liner to right that
glanced off the top of Sosa's glove.

Finley reached on the error and Williams took third. Smyth then
skipped the ball in the dirt, scoring Williams with the wild
pitch.

Game notes
Schilling is 7-6 with two saves in 23 career appearances
against the Cubs. ... Former Cub Mark Grace got a standing ovation
when he took the field in the bottom of the eighth inning as a
defensive replacement for Greg Colbrunn. He got another standing O
when he came up to bat in the ninth. ... Gonzalez extended his
hitting streak to 11 games, a season-high for the Cubs.