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Updated: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 2:18 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Chicago Cubs
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 10 0
Atlanta Braves
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
2 3 1
W Wood (1-0)
L Ortiz (0-1)
S Borowski (1)
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CHICAGO CUBS 4, ATLANTA 2
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Good pitching may beat good hitting, but when one guy can do both, his team is almost assured of victory.

Kerry Wood allowed two hits and struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings and delivered the biggest blow with a two-run double in the sixth as the Chicago Cubs posted a 4-2 triumph over the Atlanta Braves in Game One of their National League Division Series.

Wood was dominant for seven innings. And when he tired in the eighth, he was bailed out by relievers Mike Remlinger and Kyle Farnsworth . Former Brave Joe Borowski worked around a one-out single in the ninth to complete the three-hitter and notch his first career postseason save.

Getting the Game One nod because Cy Young Award contender Mark Prior had to pitch on the penultimate day of the season, Wood was dominant from the start. He served up a solo homer to Marcus Giles in the third inning, but that was Atlanta's lone hit until the seventh, when Wood walked two and had another batter reach on a wild third strike.

"That was a huge game, that's probably the biggest game of (Wood's) life, at least his professional life," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "I mean, he was great all night."

"I have had confidence for a while, and I've just been feeding off of it," Wood said. "Everything feels good and the mechanics feel good. I'm just really sticking with it and going after guys."

Braves starter Russ Ortiz kept Chicago in check for five innings but made a mistake pitch that Wood hammered off the left field wall, snapping a 1-1 tie and putting the Cubs in front for good.

"I really just tried to put it in play somewhere," Wood said. "After the first ball, I had a pretty good idea he was going to throw a fastball. Fortunately for us, it worked."

"I just threw it right over the plate," Ortiz said. "It was a fastball right down the middle. I wanted it away."

In recording their first postseason road win since the 1945 World Series, the Cubs seized home-field advantage in the best-of-five series.

"(Wood) is a good hitter, and he won the ballgame," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We hit the ball pretty good, but he threw good. So did Russ. He made one bad pitch to Kerry and it cost him the ballgame."

"Today was his day," Sosa said of Wood. "Was he born today? He was doing everything today. Our team was very good today. Kerry Wood got the win and got the double with men in scoring position. That was great."

Game Two is Wednesday, when Chicago gives the ball to righthander Carlos Zambrano and the Braves counter with lefthander Mike Hampton .

"From a standpoint of a short series, this is what can happen," Braves closer John Smoltz said. "Hopefully, we'll force some more pressure on Zambrano because Kerry did what he had to do for his team."

Chicago failed to cash in on scoring oppportunities in the first and third innings and Giles put Atlanta ahead in the bottom of the third by golfing a 1-0 pitch from Wood over the left field wall.

Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with none out in the fourth, but Ortiz struck out Alex Gonzalez and Paul Bako , another former Brave. Ortiz escaped the jam by getting Wood on a foulout.

The game remained 1-0 into the sixth, but Moises Alou , Aramis Ramirez and Eric Karros singled to load the bases. Unwilling to let another opportunity get away, Baker went to his bench and called on Randall Simon , yet another ex-Brave.

Ortiz struck out Simon, but a groundout by Paul Bako scored Alou with the tying run. Needing only to get Wood to complete another escape, Ortiz grooved a 1-0 pitch that Wood turned into a double and a 3-1 lead.

Cox replaced Ortiz with lefthander Ray King and Kenny Lofton greeted the reliever with a bloop single to center field that easily scored Wood.

"That inning, I made two mistakes, one to Karros and obviously to Wood," Ortiz said. "Two big mistakes that cost us the game. It's bad location. We almost got out of it. I've got to make better pitches."

Giles left after the sixth with an ankle injury.

Wood worked around a one-out single in the seventh but ran into trouble in the eighth.

Pinch hitter Matt Franco struck out to start the inning but reached when the pitch got by Bako. Wood struck out Rafael Furcal but issued back-to-back walks and was pulled for Remlinger, who retired Chipper Jones on a run-scoring forceout.

Farnsworth took over and walked Andruw Jones on five pitches before getting Javy Lopez to bounce into a forceout, ending the rally.

"Wood tired in the eighth and we had to go get him," Baker said. "We were flirting all night with scoring runs. We got it done, and it was especially big by Woody in Game One. That's a huge game, especially in a five-game series."


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