CHICAGO (AP) -- Kerry Wood walked off the mound after the first
inning of his latest comeback and the fans gave him a standing
ovation. Eight pitches and two strikeouts were all it took to
retire the Washington Nationals.
For that brief time in the opening inning, he looked like the
ace he once was for the Chicago Cubs.
Then his pitches started drifting over the plate and the
Nationals started knocking them over the fence. Washington hit
three homers over the next two innings and went on to a 5-3 victory
"You still see the same pop out of his hand, it looks
effortless," said Nationals shortstop Damian Jackson, who had a
two-run homer in the second that gave Washington a 3-0 lead.
"You know in the back of your mind, the things Kerry Wood is
capable of," said Jackson, who played seven games for the Cubs two
years ago. "A squirrel finds a nut every once in a while."
Making his first start since last July 20 and first appearance
since a relief outing Aug. 29 before season-ending shoulder
surgery, Wood lasted five innings on a chilly 53-degree day at
Wood gave up five hits, four runs with no walks and six
strikeouts during a 71-pitch outing against the Nationals, who'd
been shut out in the first two game of the series.
"I made a couple of bad pitches and a stupid pitch and it cost
me four runs," Wood said.
"I expect every time to go out and not give up any runs. But I
can't sit here and say I pitched bad. It didn't turn out the way I
wanted it to."
Zimmerman's seventh homer, a drive to left in the second off an
86 mph Wood pitch, ended the Nationals' scoreless streak at 22
"I think his miles per hour was a little down," Zimmerman
said. "It was 92 or 93. But he was coming off the DL."
One out after a bloop single by Marlon Byrd, who advanced to
third on a passed ball and grounder, Jackson homered to left -- just
his second of the season -- and Wood was in a 3-0 hole. The homer
was particularly disturbing because there were two outs and Ortiz
was on deck.
"I didn't get it to the spot and it ran back over the plate and
kinda ran into his swing," Wood said.
"I was quite surprised to be honest because it's so tough to
try and figure out what guys are going to do when you're hitting in
the No. 8 hole, you have an open base and the pitcher is behind
you," Jackson said.
Soriano hit his 13th homer leading off the third.
Ortiz (1-4), winless in his first seven starts this season, got
his first victory since last Sept. 10 against the Pirates. He
yielded eight hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings. Chad Cordero
pitched the ninth for his fourth save in six chances, getting out
of a first-and-third jam when Neifi Perez bunted back to him for
the final out.
"As surprised as everyone else in this ball park," Nationals
manager Frank Robinson said of Perez's surprise bunt attempt.
"Didn't work," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
"The third baseman was way back. He wouldn't have had a chance
to throw me out," Perez said. "I didn't get the job done."
But the Cubs rallied for three in the sixth and drove Ortiz out.
Michael Barrett, Jacque Jones and Perez hit consecutive singles
for the first run. Another single by John Mabry loaded the bases
before Ronny Cedeno's sacrifice fly made it 5-2 and finished Ortiz.
Pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez greeted reliever Jon Rauch with an RBI
single and the lead was down to two before Mike Stanton got Juan
Pierre to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Wood was the 1998 Rookie of the Year and struck out 20 Houston
Astros in his fifth major league start. But he missed the entire
1999 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery and has been
on the disabled list nine times in his major league career,
including three times last season.
Wood's rehab was pushed back after minor knee surgery in early
March. He made two minor league rehab starts and threw 85 pitches
in five innings for Triple-A Iowa on May 12.
Washington's win came on the same day baseball owners
unanimously approved the $450 million sale of the team to Theodore
Lerner and Stan Kasten. ... Nationals OF Jose Guillen, who had to
leave Wednesday night's game prior to the bottom of the fourth with
a strained left hamstring, didn't play. The Nationals' lineup was
without four regulars Thursday, two of them injured and two others
getting the day off. ...Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, forced out of
Wednesday night's game with a sore back, was also out of the
lineup, before his pinch-hit single in the sixth. ... Nationals
manager Frank Robinson had trouble putting on a jacket in his
office before the game because of a sore back but was on the bench.
He hurt his back before Wednesday night's game but after an
anti-inflammatory injection was able to manage. Robinson said
before Thursday's game he did not get another injection but did
receive some treatment.