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Fassero's wild pitch opens door for Rangers

6/20/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cubs reliever Jeff Fassero blamed his sweaty hand
for making him lose his grip on the ball and the game.

Fassero threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded to let the
go-ahead run score and the Texas Rangers won for the first time in
extra-innings this season, beating Chicago 7-4 in 10 innings
Wednesday.

With one out in the 10th, Fassero (1-5) was ahead of Ryan
Ludwick 0-2. But on a warm and sticky day at Wrigley Field, Fassero
failed to properly wipe his left hand of sweat before the next
pitch, and he threw it to the backstop on the fly.

''I didn't have my hands dried up,'' said Fassero, who tried to
throw a splitter. ''I squeezed it, let it go and it slipped out.
It's happened before. It depends on the humidity.''

Ludwick, who was making his first career pinch-hitting
appearance, got another splitter and drove it to center for a
two-run single.

The wild pitch ''took a lot of pressure off me to get the lead
run scored,'' Ludwick said. ''I took it from there. I was sitting
on the split and he threw the split and I poked it up the middle.''

The Rangers, were 0-7 in extra-inning games before Wednesday.

Rafael Palmeiro and Michael Young hit solo home runs for the
Rangers, who had lost 17 of 21 on the road.

Hideki Irabu (3-6) pitched one inning for the win, and Francisco
Cordero pitched the 10th for his first major league save.

Sammy Sosa hit his major-league leading 26th homer for the Cubs,
who got five innings out of starter Mark Prior in damp, 82-degree
heat.

Prior threw 28 pitches and walked in a run in the first.

Sosa's two-out homer to right off Dave Burba tied it in the
bottom of the first, and Joe Girardi and Delino DeShields hit RBI
doubles in the third to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

Michael Lamb hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and
Palmeiro tied it in the fifth with his second homer in as many
games, a pop-up to left that rode the breeze into the bleachers.

Prior was pulled after 107 pitches. He allowed three runs and
six hits, walked four and struck out seven.

''They were making him throw a lot of pitches, making him throw
strikes,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said. ''They were trying to wear
him down.''

Young struck out twice against Prior, but hit Joe Borowski's
first pitch over the wall in left to lead off the sixth.

The Cubs tied it in the eighth when Fred McGriff hit a one-out
single off Jay Powell, and Alex Gonzalez -- who won Tuesday night's
game with a ninth-inning homer -- hit an RBI double.

Fassero walked Herbert Perry to lead off the 10th. After two
failed bunts, Kevin Mench hit a check-swing single to right. Perry
pulled up at second, and was replaced by pinch-runner Jason Romano.

Gabe Kapler bunted the runners to second and third, and Young
was walked intentionally to load the bases for Ludwick.

''Leadoff walks lead to a lot of trouble,'' Baylor said. ''But
our scouting report had Ludwick hitting .111 (1-for-9) against
lefties, and we thought Jeff could get the double play.''

Fassero allowed three runs and three hits and walked two in 1
2-3 innings.

''I don't know if it would be better to be blasted, rather than
giving up little hits up the middle,'' Fassero said. ''It kinda
stinks.''

Game notes
A moment of silence was held before the game for Cardinals
broadcaster Jack Buck, a frequenter of Wrigley Field, who died
Tuesday at 77 after a long illness. ... Seventeen of Sosa's homers
have been solo. ... Sosa, a right-handed batter, has hit 15 homers
to right, five to center and six to left. ... It was DeShields'
first RBI since April 25 -- a span of 24 games and 41 at-bats. ...
Perry had cramp in his left hamstring, and is day-to-day.