Pair of homers backs Wood's first win

Pair of homers backs Wood's first win

CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood's right shoulder was feeling "cranky," but the only ones bothered by it were the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wood struck out a season-high eight over five innings Sunday and got some offensive help as the Chicago Cubs posted a 5-2 win over the Pirates.

Jeromy Burnitz hit a three-run homer and Neifi Perez added a solo homer and RBI single to help Wood earn his first victory of the season in front of 37,452 well-bundled fans at Wrigley Field.

Wood (1-1) exited after throwing 76 pitches over five innings because of tendinitis in his right shoulder. He gave up two runs on three hits and three walks in his shortest start of the season.

"You're never comfortable going five," Wood said. "The plan every time you go out there is to go deep. We came up a little short, but I'll take it."

Wood downplayed the injury.

"It was just a little cranky today," he said. "It was the coldest day I've pitched in this year. We made a decision that this was enough and get ready for my next one."

The right-hander said the shoulder twinge actually helped him use his legs more in his delivery. He doesn't expect to miss his next start.

"Hopefully, it'll be warmer next week," Wood said.

He felt his shoulder tighten while warming up in the bullpen. The 46-degree gametime temperature and northwest wind of 18 mph contributed to the bad feeling.

"The best way to describe it is it was cranky and it wasn't ready to go," Wood said. "It loosened up a little bit as we went.

"Honestly, I'm not going to worry about it too much," he said. "I'm pleased with the way I threw. My changeup was outstanding and I used it today. It's frustrating any time you have something bothering you. Sometimes you have stuff bothering you and you have to go out and pitch through it."

"There's always something," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Chad Fox pitched the ninth for his first save of the season, and first since April 25, 2003, when the right-hander notched one for Boston against the Angels. Baker said the move doesn't mean LaTroy Hawkins is no longer the closer, adding that the right-hander "will have some opportunities to close games, too." It's a day-to-day situation.

   Jeromy Burnitz  /   RF
Born: 04/15/69
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

Burnitz entered the game in a mini 0-for-8 funk, and was happy to contribute. The Pirates had taken a 2-0 lead on Freddy Sanchez's two-run double with two out in the second.

Perez led off the Chicago fourth against starter Dave Williams (1-2) with his second home run and fifth consecutive hit. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez each followed with singles, and one out later, Burnitz belted his third home run into the right-field bleachers to put the Cubs ahead, 4-2.

"My plan is the same every at-bat, every day," Burnitz said. "When I'm not executing, you have days like [Saturday] swinging at a lot of balls. With what I do, it's easier to recover from days like that because you're always back to the basics of trying to get the ball in the strike zone and take my best swing. If you're executing that part of it, you have a chance to run into one."

Perez was focused on the strike zone as well because of the unseasonably cold weather.

"[The cold] makes me a better hitter because I know I have to hit the ball in the sweet spot of the bat," Perez said. "I just wait for the ball. When it's hot, I'm going forward and trying to just kill the ball. Right now, I'm more patient because I know I have to hit the ball in the right spot."

Because if he doesn't, it's going to sting his hands a lot. Perez has been having no problem making contact. The veteran infielder, who is helping fill the openings created by injuries to Todd Walker and Nomar Garciaparra, is 8-for-11 in his last three games.

"I used to play 162 games every year, and hit .270, .280," Perez said. "Let's see what I can do. Let's see where they put me -- short, second, I don't care. A ground ball is a ground ball everywhere."

Clutch hits are something the Cubs have been missing.

"We've had some more opportunities on offense, but there's also been some timely hits late in the game that didn't look too timely because the other team got some, too," Burnitz said. "Hopefully, we can put together one good at-bat at a time."

And hopefully, it gets a little warmer out.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.