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Perez pitches 6 1/3 scoreless innings for first win

4/24/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Oliver Perez was winless in his first four
starts, struggling with his control as his ERA swelled to 9.00.

Against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, the 21-year-old
left-hander looked like a poised veteran.

"It's great to see him full of confidence," Padres manager
Bruce Bochy said after San Diego's 2-1 win. "Hopefully, it is
something we can build on."

Perez (1-2) was given a 2-0 lead in the third inning and that
was all he needed. He struck out six in 6 1/3 scoreless innings,
allowing six hits and walking two as he lowered his ERA to 6.66.

Coming in, he had walked 18 batters in 18 innings.

"He's got a great arm, good stuff," Padres second baseman
Keith Lockhart said. "It looked like he was under control today
and had better command. We needed him today."

Chicago lost consecutive games for only the second time this
season -- the other was on April 10-11 against Montreal.

Matt Clement (2-2) gave up both runs and six hits in seven
innings, striking out four and walking one.

San Diego got its runs when Ramon Vazquez singled and scored on
a double by Keith Lockhart, who came around on a single by Ryan
Klesko.

"Unfortunately they strung together those three hits on me
today," Clement said. "You wouldn't think in the third inning
that that would cost you the game. But that's the way baseball is
sometimes."

Cubs manager Dusty Baker called Perez "effectively wild."

"He was in and out of the zone," Baker said. "He was changing
speeds, using his curve ball. He threw a good game."

Perez gave up three hits in the Cubs first, but escaped without
a run when Mark Grudzielanek grounded into a double play and Moises
Alou took a called third strike with two on. Alou leaned back
thinking the pitch was inside and reacted in disbelief at the call
by plate umpire Terry Craft.

Perez, now 21, then retired the next nine batters. He got out of
a jam once again in the fifth when Tom Goodwin took a third strike
with two outs and runners on second and third.

After Eric Karros doubled in the seventh and Ramon Martinez
singled, Luther Hackman struck out Damian Miller and Mike Matthews
retired Lenny Harris on a popout.

"We had opportunities," Baker said. "Invariably those runs
are going to haunt you."

Goodwin scored in the eighth on Grudzielanek's grounder off
Jaret Wright after reaching on an infield hit, stealing second and
taking third on a wild pitch. Wright finished the seven-hitter for
his second save.

Game notes
Vazquez, San Diego's leadoff man, has reached base safely
in 20 of 22 games this year. ... Cubs closer Antonio Alfonseca, on
the DL since March 21 because of a strained right hamstring, threw
off the mound at Wrigley Field. He will be sent to Triple-A Iowa on
a rehabilitation assignment.

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