Wood hits slam, pitches Cubs past White Sox
Left-hander goes deep in fourth inning, tosses six innings
CHICAGO -- It's a good thing for the Cubs that Travis Wood started Thursday's Interleague game at Wrigley Field, and not on the South Side. The lefty didn't want to miss a chance to hit.
Wood smacked a grand slam, the first by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley since 1972, and Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena each hit solo home runs to power the Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the White Sox.
Cubs pitchers now have 19 RBIs in May, a National League record for most RBIs in a calendar month by pitchers. The 1940 Tigers, who played without a designated hitter, hold the Major League mark of 20 RBIs.
"We have nine hitters in the game," said Alfonso Soriano, who has 20 RBIs.
"We take pride in our hitting and being able to help ourselves out," Wood said. "We just want to be able to handle the bat so we're not a dead out. We can try to go out there and eventually help ourselves out and get something going."
Was this his first grand slam in a while?
"I'd say so," Wood said. "I'm sure down the road somewhere, way back when, [I hit one] that I don't remember."
With the win, the Cubs lead the intracity series, 3-0, and the two teams will meet once more at U.S. Cellular Field this summer to make up Tuesday's game, which was interrupted by rain. That date has not been announced. The Cubs players drank out of the silver cup presented to the winner of the intracity series.
"It's good that we won," Soriano said, "but that's not the trophy I want."
The Cubs may want to abandon the designated hitter if it's Wood's turn to pitch in the makeup game. They led, 2-1, when they loaded the bases in the fourth. Welington Castillo was safe on a wind-aided, popup single that dropped near the pitcher's mound, Valbuena singled off the right-field wall and Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to set up Wood, who launched a 2-1 pitch from Jake Peavy into the left-field bleachers.
"I was a little excited," Wood said about his exuberant high-fives at home plate with his teammates. "We were only up two and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball and we were up six, which is nice, especially when it's your game."
Wood was thinking about hitting.
"[Peavy] was trying to get back in the count and he just left a ball over the middle of the plate and I was fortunate to put a good swing on it and hit it out," Wood said.
Peavy didn't overlook the Cubs pitcher.
"I've seen every at-bat he had all year long," Peavy said. "I watched him his last start. Homer Bailey struck him out, but he almost hit a ball out of the ballpark against Homer Bailey. He hit one on Waveland [Avenue]. I've seen every at-bat. We knew exactly what kind of athlete he was going in. We would never be caught unprepared like that. I just didn't make pitches."
"It was pretty impressive," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Woody, he can flat out hit."
Who needs the DH?
"You think about it a little bit, but you don't [abandon it]," Sveum said. "[The pitchers have] been a big part of winning these games. They're not just getting a single and driving a run in, they're getting two-run doubles and home runs and able to put games away."
"I don't like it, to be honest," Anthony Rizzo said. "They're embarrassing us."
Rizzo was joking. The Cubs will take all the offense they can get.
It was Wood's second homer of the season and the first grand slam by a Cubs player since Rizzo connected Sept. 16, 2012, against the Pirates. The last Cubs pitcher to hit one was Jason Marquis on Sept. 22, 2008, at Shea Stadium against the Mets.
No pitcher had hit a grand slam at Wrigley since Burt Hooton on Sept. 16, 1972. Wood began this season with three home runs in 120 at-bats. This year, he's 7-for-24 with two homers and a double.
"They hit every day at home, they hit on the road, they have good swings," Rizzo said. "It is fun to watch. We just have to get the pitchers up."
Wood also handled his pitching duties just fine, holding the White Sox to two runs on five hits and two walks over six innings.
"To hold a team down to two runs in six innings with the wind blowing as hard as it was out, you're doing something right," Sveum said. "That's like pitching a shutout."
The Cubs got started in the second when Valbuena doubled with two outs and scored on Barney's single. DeJesus added a RBI single.
Paul Konerko hit a RBI single in the White Sox third and then Wood's slam made it 6-1. Alex Rios and Konerko hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth. Cubs closer Kevin Gregg allowed a run in the ninth inning.
"We came out in this series and we struck the ball well and played great defense and the pitching was outstanding," Wood said. "We played great all-around baseball. We moved runners when we needed to, we got them in when we needed to. We did everything right this series and hopefully we can build on this and keep it going."