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Rookie pitcher gets start in place of Wood

9/28/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- For the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs, it was
a day to rest, avoid injuries and get in a light tuneup for what's
ahead.

They reached all their objectives Sunday, except for winning
their regular-season finale.

One day after the Cubs clinched their first division title since
1989 with a doubleheader sweep, they were beaten 3-2 by the
Pittsburgh Pirates.

"It's not a letdown, you got to go out and finish out the
season," said Chicago shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who hit his 20th
homer.

Manager Dusty Baker rested Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou and used
many of his other regulars just briefly before Tuesday's playoff
opener in the Atlanta.

"Almost everybody got some work in," Baker said.

"It was a little more relaxing," Gonzalez said. "A good
feeling that we were able to play and not have to worry about
having to wrap it up.

"I think everybody was just going to try and use today to get
in a little groove and get ready for Atlanta."

Pittsburgh, wrapping up its 11th straight losing season, broke a
2-2 tie on Jack Wilson's solo homer in the seventh.

Rookie Sergio Mitre got the start for the Cubs, who would have
used Kerry Wood had they not clinched Saturday.

Wood will start Game 1 against the Braves.

"It's the Atlanta Braves, man. They've been there 12 years in a
row. That's a lot," Baker said. "Right now, the big boys are the
Braves and the Giants. The up-and-coming dudes are us and
Florida."

Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said the experience of winning
the division on the final weekend will help beginning Tuesday.

"Every pitch, every at-bat, everything is going to be a
pressure situation," he said. "So this was a good stepping stone
for us, to win games when we had to."

The Cubs finished 88-74 in their first season under Baker after
going 67-95 last year.

"I imagine Cubs memorabilia sales are probably skyrocketing,"
Baker said of the euphoria surrounding the division title.

Wilson hit his ninth homer, a solo shot in the seventh off Juan
Cruz (2-7).

"It was a good way to finish the season, pretty nice," Pirates
manager Lloyd McClendon said. "The record has been disappointing.
We had a lot of small victories, baby steps. But we certainly are
moving in the right direction."

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Gonzalez in the
second and Eric Karros in the fourth.

Mitre threw four shutout innings. Reliever Antonio Alfonseca
quickly gave it away in the fifth, yielding a single, walk and
tying two-run single to Jason Kendall.

Kip Wells (10-9) allowed five hits and two runs in six innings
and went 5-2 in his final seven starts.

Julian Tavarez closed for his 11th save.

Game notes
Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior will pitch the second and
third games against the Braves. Matt Clement would go in Game 4 --
if necessary -- and Wood again in Game 5. ... The Pirates finished
75-87 and were 50-48 from June 14 to the end of the season. ...
Actor Jim Belushi led the Wrigley Field grounds crew in the singing
during the seventh-inning stretch. ... Former star third baseman
Ron Santo had his No. 10 retired before the game. ... The announced
crowd of 39,940 gave the Cubs a season attendance figure of
2,962,630 for 80 dates. That's a record for Chicago baseball. The
White Sox drew 2,934,154 in 1991 when they opened new Comiskey
Park.