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Wood's slam leads Cubs to win over White Sox

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs starting pitchers have been strong on the mound all season. In May, they've been delivering at the plate as well.

Travis Wood gave up two runs in six innings and hit a grand slam to lead the Cubs to their fourth straight victory over the Chicago White Sox, 8-3, on Thursday.

Wood (5-3) allowed five hits while striking out six and walking two, but it was his work at the plate that had everyone buzzing.

"Our whole staff's been hitting," Wood said. "We take pride in our hitting, just being able to help ourselves out. Just being able to handle the bat, that way we're not just a dead out. We can go out there and eventually help ourselves out and hopefully get something going for the team."

The Cubs pitchers have four home runs and 19 RBIs in May. According to ELIAS, that's the most RBIs by a team's pitchers in a calendar month since the 1940 Tigers (20 in August).

The Cubs blew the game open against White Sox starter Jake Peavy in a wild fourth inning.

A strong wind played tricks with Welington Castillo's infield popup and it fell to the third base side of the mound for a leadoff single. Luis Valbuena followed with a single and Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Wood then lined Peavy's 2-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for a wind-aided grand slam, extending the Cubs' lead to 6-1.

Peavy said he didn't take Wood lightly in that situation.

"I've seen every at-bat (Wood) had all year long," Peavy said. "I watched him his last start. Homer Bailey struck him out but he almost hit a ball out of the ballpark against Homer Bailey. He hit one on Waveland. I've seen every at-bat. We knew exactly what kind of athlete he was going in. We would never be caught unprepared like that. I just didn't make pitches."

It was Wood's second home run of the season and his first career grand slam. The last Cubs pitcher to hit a grand slam at Wrigley Field was Burt Hooten on Sept. 16, 1972, against the New York Mets.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo tripled on the day, but like the rest of the position players, stood in Wood's shadow.

"I don't like it, to be honest, they're embarrassing all of us," Rizzo said with a smile. "It's great, it's unbelievable. They're loose and they're having fun and they're keeping everyone else loose."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum was thrilled to get more offense from a pitcher, but said he didn't have any plans to move them up in the order or allow them to hit in American League parks.

With the wind blowing out at a brisk 24 mph, Sveum was also impressed by Wood's work on the mound.

"To hold a team down to two runs in six innings with the wind blowing as hard as it was out. You're doing something right," Sveum said. "He did another great job. With the wind blowing out that's like pitching a shutout."

Peavy (6-3), on the other hand, struggled, lasting only four innings while giving up six runs and eight hits. It was Peavy's shortest start since he went four innings against the Detroit Tigers on June 5, 2011.

Entering the day, Peavy had average nearly 109 pitches per outing and had tossed 117 pitches in each of his previous two outings. Manager Robin Ventura was asked if he believed his high pitch count had anything to do with Peavy's struggles Thursday.

"I don't think so," Ventura said. "It's a tough day as far the wind and a place to pitch. I don't think it has anything to do with his pitch count."

After Peavy exited, the Cubs continued to add to their lead as Nate Schierholtz hit solo home run in the fifth off Nate Jones to make it 7-1. Valbuena delivered a solo shot off Brian Omogrosso in the eighth to cap off the scoring for the Cubs.

Valbuena, Barney and Wood, the Cubs' 7-8-9 hitters, combined to reach base seven times, scoring in six runs and driving in six. Barney and David DeJesus had run-scoring singles in the second to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Paul Konerko went 2-for-4 with a double and knocked in two runs for the White Sox. Alejandro De Aza was 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored.

The victory pushes the Cubs to 3-0 against the White Sox this season and ensures that they'll win the season series for the first time since 2007.

"We just got beat in all facets of the game," Konerko said. "That's all you can say. We were just beaten soundly. You tip your hat to them and there's not much more to say than that. They were better in every area of the game."

The teams will face each other one more time this season when they make up Tuesday night's rainout at U.S. Cellular Field.

The four-game winning streak is the Cubs' longest of the season and comes on the heels of a six-game losing streak.

"It's the crazy game of baseball," Rizzo said. "Just the way it is, you gotta keep rolling with it. We gotta keep coming together as a team. We're having a lot of fun and it shows out there."

NOTES: The Cubs optioned reliever Alex Burnett to Triple-A Iowa and selected the contract of reliever Zach Putnam from Iowa. Putnam had a 3.26 ERA with 22 strikeouts and six walks in 19 1/3 innings. ... Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who will have Tommy John surgery, was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Putnam on the 40-man roster. ... Rizzo's fourth-inning triple tied him with Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez for most extra-base hits in the National League at 28. ... Wood had his string of nine consecutive quality starts to start the season snapped in his last outing. ... The Cubs and White Sox are tied with Kansas City for second-most one-run games played this season at 19. ... The Cubs entered the game tied for third in the NL with 3.90 pitches seen per plate appearance, yet are last in baseball with a 6.2 percent walk rate. ... Peavy entered the game with seven quality starts for the season, including six of his last seven.
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