CINCINNATI (AP)—Not even four Cubs homers were enough for Kerry Wood in a city where he’s never lost.
“It’s definitely not fun being down 4-0 to a guy like him, but when we got back to the dugout, it was exactly like it always is,” Dunn said. “We know we can score runs.”
Derrek Lee hit the longest of the Cubs’ four homers, a shot that bounced off the batter’s eye and out of the ballpark, as Chicago went up 5-1 after three innings. In the past, that would have been a sure thing for Wood, who is 10-0 in 12 career starts in Cincinnati.
Not this time.
Wood was hampered in spring training by a sore shoulder and isn’t yet back in form. He got a little closer on Monday, but remained winless in three starts with a 6.38 earned run average.
“I’m pleased with way I threw the ball, obviously not pleased with the results,” said Wood, who gave up eight hits in six innings. “I thought I had decent command, and my slider was better than it has been this year. Overall, it was probably the best I’ve thrown. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.”
Rich Aurilia’s broken-bat, two-run single off Wood tied it in the sixth and left him with no-decision. An overworked bullpen then let it slip away.
Jon Leicester (0-2) walked the first two batters in the eighth and hit Wily Mo Pena, loading the bases. After Aurilia grounded into a third-to-home double play that kept it tied, Jason LaRue doubled to the wall in center for a 7-5 lead.
Kent Mercker (1-0) pitched two innings for the win. Danny Graves gave up a run-scoring single in the ninth to Neifi Perez, but retired Jeromy Burnitz on a grounder with runners on first-and-third to finish off his fifth save.
“That’s such a tough one to lose,” said Cubs reliever Glendon Rusch, who was limited to one inning because of a strained groin. “Sometimes it’s a cumulative bad day. Today is one of them.”
The Cubs hit four homers in the first three innings off shellshocked starter Matt Belisle, who was muttering to himself on the mound as he jerked his head and watched one ball after another clear the walls.
Thousands of Cubs fans in the stands reveled as Belisle gave up three homers and a double off the wall in a 17-pitch sequence of the first inning. Patterson started it with a two-out homer to right, Ramirez then hit one to left, and Burnitz doubled off the wall in left.
Lee then perfectly timed a breaking ball and hit it onto the roof of the batter’s eye in center, a drive that bounced out of the park and was estimated at 482 feet. Albert Pujols is the only other batter to bounce one off the top of the batter’s eye in the park’s three seasons.
“I had a very tough time making adjustments,” Belisle said. “On my breaking balls, I was just casting them instead of throwing them like I had been.”
Burnitz completed the homer splurge with a solo shot in the third, making it 5-1.
Dunn is the only player to hit one out of the ballpark on the fly, a 535-foot homer over the eye last August that bounced on the street and came to rest on driftwood in the Ohio River. He started the Reds’ comeback by leading off the second and fourth innings with homers on the first strikes he got— fastballs, both times. They were his first homers since he hit two on opening day.
“Usually when you face him, you get one good pitch to hit,” said Dunn, who has four homers off Wood in 29 career at-bats. “It might be the first one or the last one, so you’ve got to be ready for it.”
SS Nomar Garciaparra, hitting .182, was out of the Cubs lineup but got into the game in the eighth. … Wood moved ahead of Bill Hutchison into fourth on the Cubs’ strikeout list with 1,228. … Rusch pitched a perfect seventh, but pulled groin muscles on one pitch and couldn’t go another inning. … It was Dunn’s 11th multihomer game … Ken Griffey Jr. has gone 39 at-bats without a homer this season. In 1991, he didn’t homer until his 45th at-bat, his longest season-opening drought.