Wood threw six sharp innings in his first start in two months, and Todd Hollandsworth hit a run-scoring single in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday that extended Chicago’s winning streak to four.
Wood, who had not pitched since April 30 because of a strained right shoulder, allowed one run and two hits in six innings. He struck out nine, walked two and left after 91 pitches with a 2-1 lead.
“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” said Wood, whose velocity reached 97 mph. “I was putting my fastball pretty much where I wanted to. My slider was good early, and I dropped in a couple of good curveballs.”
Chicago, which began the day 8 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central, got its top two starters back within a span of four days. Mark Prior started Sunday’s 2-0 win over the White Sox, his first appearance since a line drive broke a bone in his right elbow on May 27.
“We feel very good and confident we finally got out pitching staff back that we started with,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “It builds everything. It’s kind of like glue, putting pieces of a puzzle together. It’s like having your whole army back. The name of the game is pitching. When you’ve got good pitching, you’re got a chance to win a lot of ballgames.”
Wood threw first-pitch strikes to 16 hitters and was consistently ahead in the count in outdueling Brewers ace Ben Sheets.
“It’s nice to be back contributing, competing out there with my teammates and going through it with them,” Wood said.
Wood longer feels no pain in his shoulder.
“It’s a lot easier to pitch when you don’t have anything bothering you,” he said.
He gave up his only run in the fourth inning, when Bill Hall homered.
“Kerry Wood threw about as well as he could throw it,’ Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.
Jeromy Burnitz walked against Julio Santana (1-2) leading off the ninth, took second on Todd Walker’s single—that was nearly caught by center fielder Brady Clark—and scored on Hollandsworth’s second RBI single of the game.
“In that situation there’s no room for error,” Santana said. “It wasn’t way inside, but it was a quality pitch.”
Roberto Novoa (2-1), the Cubs fifth pitcher, threw a scoreless ninth.
Sheets gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, striking out five and walking one.
Hollandsworth’s second-inning single put Chicago ahead, but Hall’s homer ended a 28-inning scoreless streak by Cubs pitchers. Burnitz then homered to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the bottom half.
Wood was activated before the game and RHP Joe Borowski was designated for assignment. Borowski, 34, had 33 saves for the Cubs in 2003, but has been hampered by injuries over the past two seasons. … Hall’s homer stopped an 0-for-13 slump. … Carlos Lee was 0-for-3 against Wood. Heading into Wednesday, he was 10-for-20 lifetime against him. … Actor Paul Reiser sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.