Series: Game 3 of 3

Chi Cubs won 3-0

Game 1: Monday, September 15
NY Mets1Final
Chi Cubs4
Game 2: Tuesday, September 16
NY Mets2Final
Chi Cubs3
Game 3: Wednesday, September 17
NY Mets0Final
Chi Cubs2

Mets 0

(63-88, 31-47 away)

Cubs 2

(82-70, 42-36 home)

    2:20 PM ET, September 17, 2003

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000000000 0 4 1
    CHC 11000000 - 2 4 0

    W: K. Wood (13-11)

    L: A. Leiter (14-9)

    Cubs' Wood tosses four-hit shutout

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Kerry Wood was hurting before the game, his back so stiff Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker wasn't sure if he'd be able to pitch.

    Oh, Wood pitched all right. And it was a gem.

    Wood pitched a four-hitter for his fourth complete game of the year, striking out 11 as the Cubs swept the New York Mets with a 2-0 victory Wednesday.

    "He had it going on from the opening pitch," Baker said. "I guess he's doing fine now."

    Doug Glanville and Aramis Ramirez hit solo homers for the Cubs, who improved to 13-4 in September and guaranteed themselves a winning season -- just their seventh in 31 years. It's quite a turnaround from last season, when the Cubs lost 95 games and got not one, but two managers fired.

    But the Cubs have a new attitude under Baker. Not only are they winning, but they're in contention for the NL Central title. They are just a half-game behind first-place Houston, which lost at Colorado 7-5 on Wednesday night.

    "We need a little help from them, but we can't afford to slip," Wood said. "We need to win every game to give ourselves a chance. We've been doing that. We've been playing good baseball and right now it's a lot of fun in the clubhouse and on the field.

    "Hopefully we can ride it out."

    They can if they keep getting outings like Wood's. Wood has been bothered by a stiff back lately, and he told Baker about 10 minutes before the game that it was hurting again.

    "I really didn't know until after I threw in the bullpen how it was going to turn out," Wood said. "It was a little stiff, but as the game went on, it loosened up."

    He won his 13th game, matching his total from 1998, when he won NL Rookie of the Year honors.

    Wood (13-11) retired 12 in a row at one point, including five straight strikeouts. The Mets put just one runner on base in the last six innings, a two-out single by Vance Wilson in the seventh.

    But Wilson couldn't get anywhere, as Wood struck out Marco Scutaro.

    "He was very good today," Mets shortstop Joe McEwing said. "When he's got a 95, 96, 97 mph fastball and he can throw you breaking balls for strikes, you're going to be off-balance."

    Wood walked one and plunked his 21st batter of the year, hitting Roger Cedeno in the first inning. That's the most hit batters since Tom Murphy of the California Angels also plunked 21 in 1969.

    Baker was going to go to closer Joe Borowski for the ninth inning, and even sent a pinch-hitter out in the bottom of the eighth. But as the umpire was asking the manager about the switch, Wood told Baker he wanted to hit.

    So Baker sent Wood to the plate, and let him pitch the ninth.

    "I knew in my mind if he got in any kind of trouble he was gone," Baker said. "But he wanted it. If a guy wants it and he deserves it, I'm willing to give it to him."

    Wood pitched a perfect ninth, handing the Mets their 12th loss in the last 13 games. In their last six series, all against playoff contenders, the Mets are 4-15.

    The sweep was Chicago's first of the Mets since taking a four-game series at Wrigley Field in August 1992.

    "Obviously we ran into some pretty good pitching," Mets manager Art Howe said. "Maybe we've been running into it almost every day. That's the way it looks."

    Al Leiter (14-9) was no slouch, retiring his last 13 batters and allowing just four hits and a walk in seven innings. That's an outing that would almost guarantee a victory any other day.

    But not against Wood. Leiter gave up leadoff homers to Glanville and Ramirez in the first two innings, and that was all the Cubs needed.

    "To go down 2-0 in two innings makes (Wood) that much more relaxed in making his pitches," Leiter said. "In the end, even though you know you did a pretty good job, or did your job, it's still about winning the game."

    Game notes

    C Josh Paul, who spent the first five years of his career with the White Sox, made his first start as a Cub. ... LHP John Franco turned 43 on Wednesday and also was honored as the Mets' winner of the Roberto Clemente Award. ... The last NL pitcher to hit more than 20 batters in a season was Jake Weimer of Cincinnati, who hit 23 in 1907.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press