CHICAGO (AP) -- Mark Prior passed up a chance to sign with the Yankees, opting for college instead.
Five years later, he got a taste of the atmosphere baseball's most-storied team produces."I'm not a big fan of interleague play. When it was first decided to do it, I think this is what they intended it to be," Prior said Sunday night after beating the team that once drafted him as the Chicago Cubs edged New York 8-7."I don't think anywhere in the country there was this much emotion, this much intensity in three ballgames," said Prior, who struck out 10 in six innings."I've never been a part of anything like this in baseball. The only thing I could dream of topping it would be playing in a World Series. It was definitely, I would assume, a playoff atmosphere all weekend."And what a weekend it was in the first meeting between the two widely followed teams since the 1938 World Series.On Friday, Sammy Sosa drew an eight-game suspension for using a corked bat, and his appeal allowed him to play until a hearing, probably this week. Then Sosa got his 2,000th hit Sunday night, driving in the run that turned out to be the difference as the Cubs won two of three.There also was Roger Clemens' failed bid for a third straight start to get his 300th win when he lost a masterful pitcher's duel with Kerry Wood on Saturday.And a frightening scene, too, when Wood and teammate Hee Seop Choi collided, knocking the rookie first baseman unconscious for several minutes and sending him to the hospital with a concussion. He was released Sunday."This was a memorable three days," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose team won the opener Friday. "It started out all right, but the last two games weren't so good for us."Sosa hit an RBI single in the seventh Sunday to put the Cubs ahead 8-3, drawing a thunderous ovation from the crowd of 39,341 that cheered "Sam-my! Sam-my!" Sosa tipped his helmet while standing on first as the scoreboard showed "2,000th.""Beautiful atmosphere," Sosa said. "It's something, it doesn't get any better than that. If you're not in this game, you're not in this world."And the series ended with pinch-runner Charles Gipson getting picked off first by Cubs closer Joe Borowski, who'd already allowed two runs."I was trying to be aggressive, to get to second and score," Gipson said. "I got out a little too far. He got me in a situation where I was leaning a bit."Prior was initially drafted by the Yankees out of high school in 1998, but he elected to go to college instead of signing.It turned out to be a wise choice: After transferring from Vanderbilt, the 6-foot-5 right-hander became one of college baseball's most dominant pitchers at Southern California, prompting the Cubs to take him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 draft."For me, coming into the game, none of my incentive was what happened out of high school," Prior said. "I really wasn't thinking a whole lot about that."Prior (7-2) allowed three runs and seven hits, including Jason Giambi's 15th homer and Raul Mondesi's 11th. Robin Ventura homered off Mike Remlinger in the eighth.The Cubs gave Prior an early six-run cushion, driving out Andy Pettitte after 1 2/3 innings as Moises Alou hit a three-run homer in the first and Ramon Martinez a solo shot in the second.It was Pettitte's shortest outing in a non-injury situation since he lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles on Sept. 29, 2000. The veteran left-hander, who has lost five of his last six decisions, gave up six hits and six runs.Throwing errors by Juan Acevedo and Alfonso Soriano and Sosa's RBI hit helped the Cubs score twice in the seventh.
The three-game series drew 118,063, an average of 39,354. & On Sept. 26, 2001, Pettitte left a start against Tampa Bay after facing two batters when he was hit in the elbow by Ben Grieve's line drive. & The Cubs called up David Kelton from Triple-A Iowa to replace Choi, who was put on the 15-day disabled list. Kelton flied out in his first major league at-bat.