Cubs claim third walk-off win in a row

Cubs claim third walk-off win in a row

CHICAGO -- The Cubs passed another stress test Saturday, beating Kerry Wood and the Indians with a second successive walk-off win. Only this time, there were some unlikely heroes.

Andres Blanco scored on a wild pitch by Wood with one out in the 13th inning to lift the Cubs to a 6-5 Interleague victory for their third straight walk-off win. This is the Indians' first trip to Wrigley Field since 1998, and they may not come back.

"These are wins you have to get," Chicago's Derrek Lee said. "When you lose these kind of games, it's really demoralizing. Sometimes it takes another game to get over it. It's good to be on the winning side these last few games."

The Cubs can use a confidence builder.

Cleveland took a 5-4 lead in the 13th on Luis Valbuena's second homer of the game off David Patton (3-1). Wood, who pitched 10 years for the Cubs, had blown a save and one-run lead on Friday in his first appearance at Wrigley since leaving last year via free agency. He was back for the Chicago 13th on Saturday. Kosuke Fukudome singled to lead off, his fourth hit of the game, and stole second as Koyie Hill struck out swinging. Fukudome scampered to third when catcher Kelly Shoppach's throw sailed into center for an error.

Blanco then singled to score Fukudome and tie the game, and reached third on Aaron Miles' single. A 1-1 pitch from Wood to Jake Fox skipped away from Shoppach, and Blanco scored.

"We make 'em exciting," Lou Piniella said. "So far, we've come out on the 'W' column."

"The way we've been able to come back, it's such a big deal to our club in knowing we can do that," said starter Ted Lilly, who felt as if he'd pitched Friday, not six innings on Saturday. "There've been some games where we've pushed it late where we haven't [won], but I think we're starting to put some pressure on the late bullpen for other clubs. They're good pitchers, but we're testing them every night out there."

Blanco, a utility infielder who started the season in the Minors, did not have a hit until the 13th. He knows his role.

"I try to do anything I can do," Blanco said. "I'm not a home run hitter, I'm not going to drive in too many runs. I'm just trying to put the ball in play and run hard to first base. That's my job, and I have to keep it going."

Third-base coach Mike Quade had Blanco ready for anything.

"Quade told me, 'You have to score no matter what -- high chopper, wild pitch, anything. Let's finish the game,'" Blanco said. "I was ready, 100 percent. Right after we talked, [Wood] threw a wild pitch."

Wood is still close with several of the Cubs players, and this homecoming has not gone as he expected.

"There's a lot of pressure on him coming back here, coming to Chicago," Kevin Gregg said. "That's some weird stuff that's happened to him the last couple days. He's headstrong, he's going to be fine. He'll put his nose down and get through it, I'm sure."

"We have to beat him, that's what it comes down to," Lilly said.

Lilly did notch his 11th quality start. Among the six hits off the lefty were two homers -- a one-out shot by Valbuena in the fifth and a leadoff blast by Jhonny Peralta in the sixth.

The Cubs' offense prior to the 13th included a two-run homer in the fifth by Lee, his fourth in the past three games, and a two-run pinch-hit homer by Micah Hoffpauir in the sixth. Cleveland had tied the game at 4 in the seventh when Carlos Marmol walked Peralta with the bases loaded.

The Indians had run out of position players and there was no one left in the Cubs' bullpen after Patton. Piniella said they nearly resorted to Sunday's starter, Randy Wells. Miles has pitched.

"I was going to say, 'The wind's blowing in and I have a chance to pitch today,'" Miles said. "I know there are a couple guys who would've been in contention, but I do have a track record."

The Cubs and Indians now have played 23 innings in eight hours, five minutes over the two days. Saturday was the Cubs' seventh extra-inning game this month (they're 4-3). The bullpen is a little worn out. Maybe Miles will get a shot?

"I hope we don't get to that point," Gregg said. "Maybe he has a good knuckleball."

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