"It's unbelievable it happened again," Gonzalez said Saturday
when his 10th-inning homer sent the Chicago Cubs to a 3-2 win over
the St. Louis Cardinals.
"To have that many in two years is something I would never have
Saturday's solo shot off Cal Eldred was Gonzalez's third
10th-inning homer this season. And in his first two seasons with
the Cubs, he's hit five game-ending homers at Wrigley Field.
"I'm aware it's happened in the past and that I've been able to
do it, but I'm not going up there trying to hit home runs,"
Gonzalez's latest late-inning shot came on a day when the Cubs
lost star Sammy Sosa, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list
earlier in the day after having the toenail removed from his right
Gonzalez has four homers this season, three of them in the 10th
inning. He also homered in the 10th on May 1 at San Francisco and
on May 4 against Colorado at Wrigley Field.
"What Alex has been doing is just amazing," Cubs starter Kerry
"I asked Larry Rothschild if Alex could it again and he said,
'Yeah, I think so,'" Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "The next
thing the ball is out of the park. It's been awesome."
Last May, Gonzalez hit a game-winning homer against the
Cardinals off then St. Louis reliever Mike Timlin.
"That's a special quality to hit home runs late in the game and
win it and he's done it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
"We knew his history coming in. He got a breaking ball with a
3-2 count, that's a nice piece of hitting."
Eldred (2-1), who spent most of his career in the AL where
Gonzalez once played with the Blue Jays, got his first loss since
joining the Cardinals.
"I have faced Alex quite a bit, but it's been a few years,"
Eldred said. "You stick with your plan and go with your strengths
and what you feel's right at the time. It could've been the right
pitch, but it wasn't the right location."
Mike Remlinger (1-0) pitched the top of the 10th to get his
first victory with the Cubs.
The Cardinals tied it in the ninth as Cubs reliever Joe Borowski
blew his first save in seven chances.
Wood threw a career-high 141 pitches in seven innings, allowing
just four hits.
"I didn't want to take him to 141, but he was throwing better
at 120 than he was at 20," Baker said.
"I didn't seem like that many. But I'm not worried about how
many I threw," Wood said.
Cardinals starter Woody Williams escaped his first loss when St.
Louis scored in the ninth. Williams allowed eight hits and two runs
in eight innings, walking one and striking out nine.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead in the seventh when Corey Patterson,
who'd earlier made a baserunning gaffe, tripled and scored on Mark
Scott Rolen hit his third homer in six games and eighth of the
season to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the second.
Moises Alou's fourth homer, a solo shot in the sixth with two
outs, tied the game.
Williams didn't allow a hit until Troy O'Leary _ a late
replacement for Sosa -- singled in the fourth.
The Cubs ran themselves out of a run in the fifth when they
collected three straight singles but didn't score. Patterson hit a
soft single and Grudzielanek's grounder in the hole appeared headed
to right field, Patterson went for third and was tagged out.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker, on some advice of a fellow
fisherman, dropped the struggling Grudzielanek out of the leadoff
spot and replaced him with Mark Bellhorn. Even though Grudzielanek
entered Saturday's game hitting 55 points higher than Bellhorn, he
was in a 6-or-47 slide. But when Baker was told Bellhorn performed
well as a leadoff hitter in the final month last season, he looked
it up and made the switch. ... Wood's previous career high for
pitches was 133 against the Reds in 1998.