Wood's first 4-out save preserves Indians' win

BY foxsports • July 10, 2009

On his last visit to Chicago, Kerry Wood was a two-time loser. So he enjoyed coming back to his old hometown and succeeding - even if he had to do a little extra.

A one-time Cubs phenom who blew two consecutive games against his former club last month, Wood earned his first four-out save since becoming a full-time reliever and helped his new team, the Cleveland Indians, beat the White Sox 10-8 on Thursday.

"It's nice to come back to Chicago and have a good outing after the last time I was here," he said.

Of entering with two outs and one on in the eighth, Wood said: "Your job is to get guys out regardless. I felt good. I felt good on the other side of town a few weeks ago. It's not the first time (blowing saves) happened and it won't be the last time it happens. For me, it's how you bounce back. I'm getting back to where I need to be."

Kelly Shoppach had a career-high five RBIs, including a grand slam, and Ryan Garko had four hits, but the story for the Indians was the rare outstanding performance by the relief corps.

Going into the game, Cleveland's bullpen had a 5.13 ERA. But after starter David Huff squandered most of a 9-2 lead, five relievers combined to pitch 4 2-3 shutout innings against a team that has scored 96 runs in its last 15 games.

Tony Sipp (1-0) entered with two on and one out in the sixth, retired the next two batters and was credited with the win. Rafael Betancourt, fresh off the disabled list, retired the three batters he faced and Wood earned his 11th save in 15 chances.

"We really swung the bats well but we were struggling to hold them down," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "If the bullpen doesn't pitch the way they pitched, we don't win."

Wood, forced to become a reliever in 2007 due to numerous arm problems, left the Cubs after 11 seasons and signed a two-year, $20.5 million contract with the Indians. He last pitched more than one inning on Sept. 18, but that wasn't a save situation.

"With Kerry having four days off, it was a good opportunity to get him out there for one out in the eighth and then have him run through the ninth," Wedge said. "We had a chance to win the game and we finished it off."

That hasn't happened often for the Indians, who were expected to contend but instead are 34-52. They had lost 17 of their previous 22 games overall and had been outscored 38-16 in dropping five straight to the White Sox.

"As a group, we haven't been throwing the ball well in the first half," Wood said. "But I think we saw today the way we're capable of throwing the ball coming out of the pen. Hopefully, we can establish our roles down there and be ready to go in the second half. You never know what can happen."

Just as the Indians did something unusual, so did the White Sox. They had been playing and pitching superbly in winning nine of their previous 11 but on Thursday issued 10 walks, hit a batter and made two errors.

"When you walk people, you're not going to make money in this game," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I looked up and they had nine runs and they only had about four hits."

With the score 2-all in the second, White Sox starter Clayton Richard (3-3) followed Garko's single by walking Jamey Carroll and Ben Francisco. Shoppach sent Richard's next pitch into the left-field seats for his first career grand slam.

After batting .261 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs in 2008, his first full major league season, Shoppach is hitting .199 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs this year.

Richard was relieved by D.J. Carrasco, who gave up three runs in the third. The first scored when he walked Shoppach with the bases loaded, another on a double-play grounder and the third on Victor Martinez's RBI single that made it 9-2.

Huff allowed four runs in the third, capped by Chris Getz's two-run double, one of his four hits. Huff gave up two more runs in the fifth, including A.J. Pierzynski's homer.

"I was one out away from pulling everybody to give them some rest," Guillen said. "But we battled back, we fought and we didn't let the fans down. I feel proud."


Richard was used on three days' rest because Guillen wants to use John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle at Minnesota this weekend. ... Cleveland starters have a 5.58 ERA. ... White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez was 0 for 5, including a strikeout when he couldn't check his swing while being hit by one of Huff's pitches. ... It was the first time in 15 games that Chicago never held the lead.

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