Wood can't break losing skid vs. Cardinals


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jason Simontacchi, emerging from a short stint
in the minors, showed the St. Louis Cardinals he belongs in their
pitching mix.

The 28-year-old rookie outdueled Kerry Wood and added two hits
as the Cardinals wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs
with a 3-1 victory Sunday.

"You're sent down and you want to come back and prove you can
still be here and contribute,'' Simontacchi said. "It was just
good to be back.''

The NL Central leaders have won five in a row and 10 of 13 to
move a season-best 20 games above .500, and swept the Cubs for the
second time this year. Wood (10-9) struck out 10, but failed to
beat the Cardinals for the fourth time this season, allowing two
runs and eight hits in seven innings.

"I think I got outpitched today,'' Wood said. "The other guy
threw the ball better than I did. That's basically what happened.''

Cubs manager Bruce Kimm kept the clubhouse doors closed for 10
minutes after the game while delivering a profanity-laced tirade to
his players that could be heard outside.

"What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse,'' Kimm
said. "I just went over a few things. We just went over a few
things that I feel strongly about. I just want them to play hard.''

Simontacchi (10-5) dominated in his first start since being
recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Sept. 3. After losing in two
earlier matchups against Wood and the Cubs, he worked a career-best
eight innings and gave up a run on four hits with four strikeouts
and one walk.

"Any pitcher with his capabilities, you've got a tough day or a
long day ahead of you,'' Simontacchi said. "You've just got to try
to minimize your mistakes and just make good pitches.''

He held the Cubs scoreless until rookie Hee Seop Choi hit a
432-foot home run over the right-field wall for his first
major-league hit with two outs in the seventh. Steve Kline worked
the ninth for his fourth save with closer Jason Isringhausen, who
hasn't pitched since Aug. 25 because of a sore shoulder and stiff
neck, again was unavailable.

Simontacchi singled and scored the game's first run on an
infield hit by Kerry Robinson in the third. Wilson Delgado hit his
second career home run, and first since 2000 when he was with the
New York Yankees, in the fourth, and added an RBI double off Joe
Borowski in the eighth.

Delgado played shortstop to give Edgar Renteria a rare day off.

"What a wonderful lift,'' manager Tony La Russa said. "Those
two runs were so huge and I'm not sure which one was bigger.''

The Cardinals were missing NL RBI leader Albert Pujols, out for
the second straight game with spasms in his left shoulder, and J.D.
Drew, who has a mild quadriceps strain. Manager Tony La Russa said
both could play Monday at Milwaukee.

Wood has seven double-digit strikeout games this year, including
four in the last eight games, and 26 for his career.

Sammy Sosa was 1-for-4 with a strikeout, and is 5-for-26 with
one homer and six runs in his last seven games since missing nine
games with a mid-back sprain.

Game notes
Simontacchi allowed 10 earned runs in eight innings his
first two games against the Cubs. ... Wood was 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA
against the Cardinals this season. ... The Cardinals also swept the
Cubs May 13-15 in St. Louis. ... Choi just missed foul on a bid for
a two-run homer in the second, then ended up grounding into a
double play. ... Simontacchi is the first Cardinals rookie to win
10 games since Rick Ankiel won 11 in 2000.