Wood allows four hits in eight innings

CHICAGO (AP) -- Kerry Wood had a great day on the mound and at
the plate.

Wood homered and allowed four hits in eight innings Saturday,
leading the Chicago Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0.

"It was his best outing in a long time," Cubs manager Dusty
Baker said. "He got his pitch count up a little bit early in the
game, but he settled down later. It was a wonderful day for

Wood (7-5) struck out seven and walked three as Chicago won for
just the third time in eight games and took a one-game lead over
San Diego in the NL wild-card race. He hit his seventh homer in 305
career at-bats in the third inning off Kazuhisa Ishii (11-6), a
drive into the left-field bleachers against a 15 mph wind.

Chicago added a run in the fifth when Michael Barrett tripled
leading off and scored on Corey Patterson's two-out single.

Wood got out of trouble in the second inning after David Ross
doubled with two outs and Alex Cora held at third. Ishii ended the
inning with a groundout, starting a streak of eight straight
batters retired for Wood.

Pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski walked with one out in the eighth
and Cesar Izturis singled, but Steve Finley grounded out and, after
Milton Bradley loaded the bases with a walk, Adrian Beltre struck
out when he wasn't able to check his swing on Wood's slider.

"We saved the slider," said Barrett, Chicago's catcher. "That
was the game plan today, and he got the job done and he did what he
wanted to do today. Up to that point, Kerry hadn't really thrown
that many sliders so I knew it was still going to be a sharp slider
if we had to go with it."

Baker has considered taking out Wood, who struck out Beltre with
his 121st pitch.

"I was nervous. Beltre is an MVP candidate," Baker said. "In
that situation, I said that's Woody's game."

Chicago added a run in the fifth when Barrett tripled leading
off and scored on Corey Patterson's two-out single.

Mike Remlinger finished with a one-hit ninth for his first save
since Aug. 22, 2001, for Atlanta against San Diego.

Ishii (11-6), starting because Brad Penny has an injured right
biceps, gave up six hits in seven innings. Los Angeles, the NL West
leader, had won eight off 11.

"Kazuhisa Ishii pitched a great game for us. He did a terrific
job," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. He was just a victim of a
guy that did just a little bit better today, but we know that Kerry
Wood is capable of doing things like that."

Nomar Garciaparra started a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth with
a nice pickup of Beltre's hard grounder, and left fielder Moises
Alou made a diving catch in the seventh on Shawn Green's line

"I think defense won this game for us," Wood said. "Moises
made a great play out in left. Nomar, you can't say enough about
him at short. He came up with some huge plays for us and a big
double-play there."

Los Angeles looked ahead to the possibility of facing Wood again
in the playoffs.

"He has good stuff, there is no doubt about that, but I don't
think he is unhittable," Jayson Werth said. "We didn't get any
runs today, but I don't think that will be the case next time when
we face him."

Game notes
Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez missed the game to rest his sore
right groin. He left Thursday's game against the Padres after four
innings and sat out Friday. He is day to day. ... Cubs closer
LaTroy Hawkins sat out the second game of a three-game suspension.
... Ishii will start Thursday against Atlanta. ... Chicago has five
shutouts this season; Los Angeles was blanked for the eighth time.