<
>

Wood blows lead in ninth

4/17/2004

CHICAGO (AP) -- This time, it was Kerry Wood who lost his cool --
and it cost the Cubs the game.

A day after Chicago manager Dusty Baker's angry outburst
resulted in his ejection, an irate Wood was tossed in the ninth
inning after a heated confrontation with home plate umpire Eric
Cooper over balls and strikes.

As Wood was steaming, the Cincinnati Reds rallied with two runs
as Wily Mo Pena hit a go-ahead double for a 3-2 victory Saturday.

"I made a comment and off flies the mask and here we go," said
Wood, who had two run-ins with Cooper in the ninth. "It is what it
is and you got adrenaline and all that stuff. There were a few
pitches I thought didn't go my way. Unfortunately, I let it build
up until the last inning."

Sean Casey singled and after Wood (2-1) walked Adam Dunn on a
3-2 pitch, Wood waved in disgust. Cooper then started toward the
mound before Cubs catcher Michael Barrett got between the two.

"He started yelling and Eric did what he had to do and let him
know the pitches weren't strikes," crew chief Mike Reilly said.

After Cooper returned to the plate and Wood to the mound, Ryan
Freel's bunt moved both runners up before Jason LaRue tied the game
with a sacrifice fly. Pena then doubled in the go-ahead run as
Baker came out to remove Wood.

As Wood was being taken out of the game, he sprinted to the
plate and began screaming at Cooper before he was ejected.

"He made me nervous because he had a full head of steam. I
didn't want him to bump him," said Baker, who'd thrown his own
temper tantrum Friday after being ejected over a double switch
disagreement.

"I didn't know that kind of brakes he (Wood) had. Evidently he
has good brakes," Baker added.

As he walked down the dugout, Wood heaved a batting helmet and
gloves onto the field before departing. Fans at Wrigley Field
littered the warning track with debris and the game was held up for
several minutes while the grounds crew cleaned it up.

"Obviously he went down and confronted Eric Cooper and was
complaining. That's pretty obvious what he did there," Reilly said
of Wood's ejection.

Asked if there was a pattern to the growing tension the last two
days -- Reds manager Dave Miley was also ejected Friday -- Reilly
said no.

"I think it's pretty much a coincidence," he said.

"These last couple of games have been unbelievable," said Reds
closer Danny Graves, who got his fifth save by pitching the ninth.
He'd blown the save Friday.

"Two managers getting thrown out yesterday and then Kerry Wood
getting thrown out. It's almost feels like it is the postseason."

Wood allowed three runs and six hits in 8 2-3 innings. He struck
out six and walked three. He's hoping Cooper has a short memory.

"Hopefully he won't hold any grudges. I won't," Wood said.

Ryan Wagner (1-1) pitched the eighth for the win.

Dunn's homer in the seventh against a 10 mph wind cuts the Cubs'
lead to 2-1.

Dunn said the two pitches to him in the ninth were just like
Cooper called them.

"The 2-2 was way out, the 3-2, it was a ball," Dunn said.
"Kerry was throwing well and for us to come back and win is a huge
lift after giving one away yesterday."

After Baker's ejection Friday, the Cubs rallied for an 11-10 win
behind back-to-back homers by Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou in the
ninth.

Reds starter Cory Lidle gave up seven hits and a pair of runs in
seven innings. Two shaky plays by third baseman Freel helped the
Cubs break through for two runs in the sixth.

Freel fielded Sosa's deep grounder and threw low to first
allowing Sosa to reach on what was ruled an infield single. Sosa
raced to third on Alou's bloop single to left and scored on Aramis
Ramirez's grounder to Freel, who appeared to have plenty of time to
throw home to catch a breaking Sosa. But instead, he went to first
as the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Derrek Lee followed with an RBI single
for a 2-0 lead.
^Notes:@ Baker's son, Darren, has a new name for his dad: "Mad
Dog" after the Cubs manager was ejected from Friday's game. Baker
was ejected after a mix-up over a double switch that resulted in
Ramon Martinez being called out for batting out of order, right
after he'd doubled. Baker threw his lineup card and cap during his
outburst and said Saturday he expects to be fined. But he was more
worried about the impression it made on his son. "When I got home
last night and knocked on his door, he was like "There he is mom.
There's the mad dog, mom. ... "It's not a very good example for my
son," he said. ... Umpire Chuck Meriwether, who left Friday's game
in the fifth inning because of food poisoning, was back Saturday.