CHICAGO (AP) -- Mark Prior said he would forsake a few strikeouts
to make himself a better pitcher, especially if it means more wins
for the Chicago Cubs.
Prior won for the first time in five weeks, getting support from
Sammy Sosa, who hit one of Chicago's four homers as the Cubs
completed a sweep of the Florida Marlins with 10-3 victory Sunday. Prior (3-2) allowed two runs and five hits over six innings. He
struck out five and walked three. Prior also hit a two-run double. The rookie right-hander came in with 65 strikeouts in 52
innings, but had a 4.86 ERA in June and hadn't won in six starts.
Prior felt he turned a corner in his last start against Atlanta on
July 4. "Right now, I'm pitching. If that means giving up some
strikeouts, that's OK,'' Prior said. "It's not about ERA,
strikeouts or walks. For a starting pitcher, it's about quality
starts.'' Sosa hit his 29th homer, a two-run shot in the seventh off
Vladimir Nunez. Corey Patterson, Alex Gonzalez and Bill Mueller homered in
the eighth off Oswaldo Mairena. Kyle Farnsworth pitched two scoreless innings for his first save
as the Cubs swept a three-game series for the first time this
season, and improved to 4-1 under new manager Bruce Kimm. Juan Encarnacion hit his first home run for Florida since being
acquired Thursday in a trade from the Reds. Michael Tejera (5-2) lost for the first time in seven starts for
the Marlins, who were swept for the first time on the road this
season. "It was a lost weekend, that's for sure,'' Marlins manager Jeff
Torborg said. The Cubs scored three times after two outs in the second. Gonzalez doubled and Tejera intentionally walked light-hitting
Joe Girardi after getting behind 2-0. That brought up Prior, who
came in batting .250 with .500 slugging percentage. "We knew beforehand that he (could hit), and that's why we
decided to pitch to Joe Girardi'' Torborg said. "Then it was two
balls and no strikes and we said 'The heck with it.''' The Wrigley Field crowd became louder on each pitch as Prior
protected the plate and worked the count full before hitting a
two-run double just inside the third-base line. It was Prior's
fourth hit -- and double -- of the season. "I was surprised to hit it to the left side for a change,''
said Prior, who went 1-for-2 and is 4-for-14 this year. "I was
doing whatever I could to have a good at-bat.'' The Cubs loaded the bases on singles with no outs in the third,
and made it 3-0 on Patterson's sacrifice fly. All three runners tagged up on the play, and after Preston
Wilson threw home, catcher Charles Johnson relayed to third to
easily get Angel Echevarria for a double play. The Marlins scored on an RBI grounder by Johnson in the fourth,
and Prior allowed Encarnacion's 17th homer in the sixth. Prior was lifted to start the seventh after throwing 103
pitches. "They're going to be conservative with my pitch counts. I
labored in the fourth, fifth and sixth,'' said Prior, who has
averaged 106 pitches in 10 starts. Tom Gordon allowed the Marlins within a run on a pinch-hit RBI
double to Kevin Millar, but he picked Millar off second with Luis
Castillo at the plate. "That's a situation where you're an idiot for getting picked
off,'' Millar said. "It was terrible.'' Castillo singled, but was caught stealing second on a missed
Tejera, who had been 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in his last five
starts, allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings.
In the first, Wilson was OK after being hit by Prior's
pitch on the left wrist, which he had jammed Friday running into
Wrigley Field's brick wall in pursuit of a fly ball. ... Marlins 3B
Mike Mordecai made a great dive and throw to get Echevarria on a
grounder in the first. ... Prior is 4-for-14 -- on four doubles --
with four RBI. ... Former Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers great
Paul Hornung sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game.'' ... The Cubs'
previous three-game sweep was in June 2001 against Minnesota. ...
The Marlins were last swept on the road at Colorado in August 2001.
... Florida fell below .500 at 45-46 for the first time since being