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Prior's strong start negates worries over Wood

Associated Press
Published April 14, 2005


CHICAGO - Mark Prior was a success in his season debut, but Kerry Wood struggled again.

Prior pitched six shutout innings in his first game of the season and Derrek Lee had five RBIs, leading the Cubs over the San Diego Padres 8-3 Wednesday for a doubleheader split.

Wood gave up three home runs in the opener, including one to Geoff Blum leading off the game, as the Padres won 8-3.

Prior made just one start in spring training and went on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. He got hit hard last week in a minor-league rehabilitation start but, backed by a quick 7-0 lead Wednesday, he allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one, throwing 92 pitches.

"I wanted to go out there and throw strikes," Prior said. "I had good down angle on the ball, throwing my fastballs down in the zone pretty good. I was happy with the command I did have on my fastball. Even the first three or four pitches of the game, I threw it right where I wanted."

Fans, some of whom booed Wood in the opener, cheered loudly for Prior, whose start was delayed a day by Tuesday's rainout.

"It was kind of a nice little welcome back to the season," Prior said. "It was pretty cool."

Prior also started the four-run second with a single up the middle, scoring on Corey Patterson's single. He added a single in the third inning.

Though Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he was grateful for Prior's offensive contributions, he was mostly glad to see him on the mound.

"You're always concerned when a guy hasn't pitched very much," Baker said. "He had good command, good tempo. His mechanics looked good."

In the opener, Wood gave up four fast runs.

"I've got to figure something out in the first inning," he said. "The last two times I've pitched, the first inning has been kind of rough."

Brian Giles and Ryan Klesko also homered off Wood, who allowed seven runs, one unearned. He needed 51 pitches to get through the first two innings and threw 112 by the time he left after Klesko's drive with two outs in the seventh.

"Early on he didn't have a feel for his breaking ball," Baker said. "There's no need for concern. He settled down after that first inning and found his release point. ... I'm sure he'll be better the next time out."

REDS 6, CARDINALS 5: Mark Mulder flopped again in his second outing for St. Louis, and Austin Kearns hit a three-run homer and Joe Randa had three hits for visiting Cincinnati.

Matt Belisle, starting because Ramon Ortiz was scratched with a groin injury, got his second career win, his first since 2003. He pitched five strong innings in his first major-league start.

Kearns hit his first homer of the season to help the Reds win for the first time in five road games this season. They averaged two runs in the four road losses.

MARLINS 4, PHILLIES 0: Dontrelle Willis pitched a three-hitter for his second shutout, giving host Florida another pitching gem.

Willis beat Washington with a five-hit shutout Friday, and his latest performance improved the Marlins' ERA to 1.36, best in the majors. They have four complete games, while the other 29 teams combined for two through Tuesday.

Florida completed a 5-4 homestand, winning series against the Nationals and Philadelphia. The Marlins have outscored opponents 38-2 in their victories.

On an 87-degree afternoon, Willis struck out seven and walked one, retiring the first nine batters.

NATIONALS 11, BRAVES 4: Former Devil Ray Jose Guillen homered twice, becoming the majors' first player with five, as Washington won the last two of the three-game series before heading home for its first game at RFK Stadium.

Tomo Ohka won despite walking six in six innings. He gave up three runs and four hits, leaving with a 5-3 lead.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was ejected by plate umpire Randy Marsh in the first inning, his first ejection of the season. Cox and starter John Thomson were upset when Marsh called a ball on a close 3-and-2 pitch to Nick Johnson, loading the bases. Cox continued to complain while standing on the dugout steps after the third out.

METS 1, ASTROS 0 (11): Kazuhisa Ishii matched Roger Clemens for seven innings and Jose Reyes hit a run-scoring single in the 11th to lead host New York,

After Victor Diaz walked, late-inning defensive replacement Chris Woodward sacrificed him to second. Reyes then hit a bouncer that Houston reliever and former Devil Ray Dan Wheeler deflected with his glove, but the ball continued past second.

Shortstop Adam Everett dived and also got a glove on it. Second baseman Chris Burke made a weak throw home from short centerfield, and Diaz scored without a play.

Mike DeJean, the fourth Mets pitcher, pitched the 11th for the victory.

DODGERS 4, GIANTS 1: Odalis Perez allowed one run in 61/3 innings, Hee-Seop Choi and Jeff Kent homered and host Los Angeles won for the fourth time in five games.

The Dodgers swept the two-game series and beat their Northern California rival for the four time in five games this season.

San Francisco entered leading the majors with a .387 average (29-for-75) against left-handers, but it was no match for Perez, who retired 15 straight after Edgardo Alfonzo's single to start the second.

BREWERS 6, PIRATES 2: Carlos Lee's two-run double off Mike Gonzalez in the eighth sparked a four-run rally that gave host Milwaukee its fourth win in five games against Pittsburgh. The Brewers were 6-12 against the Pirates last season.

D'BACKS 5, ROCKIES 2: Shawn Estes pitched seven strong innings, Tony Clark doubled in two runs and Arizona handed Colorado its seventh loss in a row. Troy Glaus had two hits, including a run-scoring double, to help the Diamondbacks finish a nine-game homestand with their fourth consecutive victory.