Game 1 goes Chicago's way

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2003

ATLANTA Cubs win! Cubs win!

A road game in the playoffs, no less.

Holy cow.

Cheered on by thousands of their well-traveled fans, Chicago won a postseason game outside of Wrigley Field for the first time since 1945 when Kerry Wood led the Cubs past the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Tuesday night in the opener of their NL division series.

Wood did it all on the mound and at the plate. He allowed just two hits in 7 1-3 innings to the NL's best offensive team. He drove in the go-ahead runs with a double off 21-game winner Russ Ortiz in the sixth.

''He wanted this badly,'' said Dusty Baker, in his first year as Chicago's manager. ''A good pitcher turned into a great pitcher.''

Thousands of Cubs fans roared when Wood drove in two runs with a drive to the wall in left-center, breaking a 1-all tie.

''They've been following us all year,'' Wood said. ''It sounded like half and half.''

Offense aside, it was Wood's work on the mound that really stood out. He completely throttled the high-scoring Braves, a team that had six players with 20 homers and four with 100 RBIs during the regular season.

Wood struck out 11 in 7 1-3 innings. The only major slip-up came in the third, when Marcus Giles homered.

''To give up two hits in 7 1-3 innings to that team and also drive in the winning run, I'd say he was pretty locked in for this game,'' said Joe Borowski, who struck out the side in the ninth for the save.

Trailing 4-1, Atlanta scored a run and knocked out Wood without getting a hit. A questionable call at first on a potential inning-ending double play allowed the run to score.

But Kyle Farnsworth retired Javy Lopez on a bases-loaded grounder to short.

''You know this can happen,'' Braves closer John Smoltz said. ''You can look at it like the glass is half-empty or half-full. We've won three out of four before.''

Lost in the hoopla over Chicago's 95-year drought without a World Series title was this little nugget: The Cubs had lost eight straight postseason road games since Claude Passeau pitched a one-hitter to beat Detroit in Game 3 of 1945 World Series.

Of course, the Cubs lost that World Series, falling to the Tigers in seven games. They've lost 10 straight postseason series since winning their last World Series title in 1908.

The Cubs will go to Game 2 on Wednesday night with a chance to take command of the best-of-five series. At worst, they'll head to Chicago with a split at Turner Field and the next two games before their adoring Wrigley rowdies.

Actually, the Cubs must feel like they're already at home. All those Chicago fans contributed to an overflow crowd of 52,043 at Turner Field, which had its first postseason sellout in three years.

While Atlanta's tomahawk choppers did their best to drown out the Chicago contingent, they didn't stand a chance when Wood became the first Cubs pitcher to drive in the game-winning run in a postseason game since Orval Overall in the 1907 World Series.

''I knew if they traveled from Chicago to Puerto Rico, they would go from Chicago to Atlanta,'' Baker said.

Giants 2, Marlins 0

SAN FRANCISCO Jason Schmidt aced another test.

Schmidt pitched the San Francisco Giants to their first playoff shutout in 16 years, throwing a three-hitter for a 2-0 victory over the Florida Marlins in Game 1 Tuesday.

Schmidt outdueled Josh Beckett while Barry Bonds and the Giants took advantage of a costly error by Florida fill-in third baseman Miguel Cabrera to score the go-ahead run.

''I felt like I learned a lot more in the last two games of the World Series than I did my whole career,'' Schmidt said. ''I couldn't wait to get back to the postseason.''

At 68, Felipe Alou wound up a winner while managing his first postseason game and 72-year-old Jack McKeon lost in his playoff debut.

Game 2 in the best-of-five NL series is Wednesday.

Bonds barely had two feet in the batter's box when catcher Ivan Rodriguez's glove shot out to signal an intentional walk, showing just how serious the Marlins were about not getting beat by baseball's best slugger.

Instead, the Marlins beat themselves with one bad throw.

Bonds wound up 0-for-1 with three walks. Chad Fox intentionally walked Bonds with nobody on base in the eighth, and he came around to score on Edgardo Alfonzo's double.

Bonds proved last postseason that he could carry his team the five-time MVP hit .356 with eight homers, 16 RBIs and 27 walks as the Giants reached the World Series for the first time since 1989 but the Marlins don't plan to let that happen if they can help it.

When he was intentionally walked in the first, the crowd of 43,704 began booing lustily.

On a day the teams combined for only six hits, the Giants scored their only run on a misplay.

Cabrera, starting in place of injured All-Star Mike Lowell, charged in on Alfonzo's fourth-inning bunt and made a wild throw to first. By the time the ball had stopped it was in the bullpen dirt and Rich Aurilia was headed for home.

Alou had said the key for Schmidt was to keep his pitch count down and that happened. The lanky right-hander with the league's lowest ERA worked ahead in the count and was at 79 pitches through six.

''It's unbelievable,'' reliever Scott Eyre said. ''I know postseason outings have no bearing on the Cy Young, but ... He's just awesome to watch pitch.''

After Alex Gonzalez reached on an error in the fifth, Schmidt retired the final 14 batters. Schmidt walked none and struck out five.

Schmidt pitched the first postseason shutout for the Giants since Dave Dravecky beat St. Louis in Game 2 of the 1987 NL championship series.

Beckett was almost as impressive in his playoff debut. He gave up two hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking five.

At 23, Beckett is seven years younger than Schmidt, but he didn't pitch like it.

''He's tough,'' Beckett said. ''He threw probably 100 fastballs and I don't think he made a mistake on one of them. He outpitched me, what can I say?''

Beckett worked out of a first-inning jam after Ray Durham hit a leadoff double.

Durham went to third on J.T. Snow's flyout and after Bonds was walked with two outs, Alfonzo flied out.

Beckett retired seven consecutive batters, including five straight strikeouts before walking Aurilia in the fourth.

Before Bonds' fourth-inning at-bat, Beckett huddled on the mound with Rodriguez and pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal certainly discussing how to approach him this time around.

Beckett challenged Bonds all right.

Here's how it went: A 97 mph fastball, strike one. Outside, ball one. Low and in, ball two. Foul, strike two. High, ball three. Low, ball four. And Bonds was aboard again while McKeon barked about plate umpire John Hirschbeck's strike zone.

Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre insisted San Francisco's 5-1 showing against Florida this season wasn't a true indication of the talent separation between these two clubs the Giants reached the World Series last season and the Marlins are in the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 1997, and they swept San Francisco in the first round to get there.

Notes: Amputee football player Neil Parry of San Jose State threw out the first pitch. ... Beckett's nine strikeouts set a franchise division record.

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