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Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2003 6:38 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Pittsburgh Pirates
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
0 4 2
Chicago Cubs
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 6 0
W Wood (2-0)
L Benson (2-1)
S Borowski (2)
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CHICAGO CUBS 4, PITTSBURGH 0
 

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Kerry Wood struck out 13 batters over eight innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hitter as the Chicago Cubs defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates , 4-0, and evened their weekend series.

Damian Miller homered and drove in two runs for the Cubs, who handed Pirates starter Kris Benson (2-1) his first loss since August 4 against San Francisco.

Chicago got on the board in the second inning, when Corey

Patterson rapped a two-out double against Benson and Mark Bellhorn plated him with a single to center field. Bellhorn, who was mired in an 0-for-24 slump, had not recorded a hit since Opening Day.

Miller added a solo homer one inning later, sending Benson's first offering of the frame over the wall in left-center.

"(There is) really no explaining why I'm hitting home runs and no one else is in this ballpark," said Miller, who has two homers on the season - one more than Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa . "You just try to put a good swing on the ball and let the rest take care of itself. I've always seen the ball very well in this ballpark. I'm not surprised that I'm hitting the ball hard."

The Cubs added two unearned runs in the seventh on run-scoring singles by Miller and Mark Grudzielanek following an error by Pirates right fielder Kevin Young on a fly ball by Patterson leading off the frame.

Outfielders on both teams struggled with the heavy wind, which blew the ball toward right field.

"It was pretty bad today," said Young, who dropped Patterson's ball at the warning track. "Even though the wind didn't swirl, it was just a strong crosswind from center to right."

"The outfield was a struggle today for anyone," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It was a tough wind and a tough sun. Kenny (Lofton) battled for us out there and Sammy (Sosa) didn't look comfortable on his catches."

Wood, however, had little difficulty with the wind, overpowering the Pirates despite blowing on his right hand before seemingly every pitch.

"On a day like this it's a big pitching advantage," Wood said of the weather. "You don't want to be walking people when the wind is howling in at 25 miles an hour, you want to throw strikes."

"It's a great advantage for a manager to have a strikeout staff," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker , whose pitcher Mark Prior struck out 12 Montreal Expos on Wednesday. "It eliminates any types of defensive problems as well."

Wood (2-0), who yielded three hits and four walks, posted his 27th career double-digit strikeout game.

"For me it was a good day, I had an excellent fastball and breaking ball," Wood said. "The difference was I used my fastball to set up my breaking ball, and I wasn't afraid to throw inside."

"He pitched a good game," Benson said of Wood. "We just needed a hit or two here or there and couldn't do it because he was tremendous, but I'll see him again."

Mike Remlinger recorded the first out of the ninth inning before Joe Borowski got the final two with two runners on base to pick up his second save in as many opportunities.

Asked whether he was the team's new closer, Borowski said, "Nah, just because I have two saves doesn't mean anything other than I'm doing my job. We have a lot of capable people in our bullpen. I'm just happy to contribute my own little share."

Benson allowed four runs - two earned - and six hits in seven innings after surrendering just one unearned run and nine hits in his first two starts combined.

"I just made some mistakes with my fastball and couldn't get it across the plate," Benson said. "It leaked back over the plate and I got hurt by it, and it determined the outcome of the game."

"I thought Benny threw the ball OK," McClendon said. "He elevated a couple of pitches, but other than that he threw pretty good."

Prior to the game, the Pirates placed star outfielder Brian Giles on the 15-day disabled list with a strained ligament in his right knee.

"Anytime you lose a player of his magnitude it's a test, so we have to tighten up the fist and get it done," McClendon said. "We have guys capable of doing that. The doctors tell us it will be two weeks and (Giles) is a tough (guy), so I think he will do everything to get back as quick as possible, but we want to make sure he is 100 percent first."


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