Bad sign: Cubs-Cardinals rivalry still is fierce

ST. LOUIS (ESPN.com news services) -- Their NL Central rivalry should be even more heated tonight when the
Chicago Cubs visit the St. Louis Cardinals for the opener of a three-game series.

St. Louis avoided a three-game sweep to Chicago last week with a
3-2 victory Wednesday. The Cardinals complained afterward
that the Cubs were tipping off the location of Matt Morris' pitches to All-Star slugger Sammy Sosa.

"Somebody might get a fastball in the ear if that's the way they
want to do it," Morris told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Play
the game right. It's bush-league baseball. The guy's an
All-Star, and they are tipping off location. Come on."

"A player like me is going to go out there and pick off signs?"
Sosa said. "Come on. This is really not true. I'm not the kind
of player to go out there and look for help. To tell you the
truth, I don't really need to pick location to hit. It
surprises me because they know I don't need that (stuff)."

Morris (5-2, 2.95 ERA) yielded two runs -- a two-run homer to
Sosa -- and four hits, struck out 10 and walked four over eight
innings to gain the win Wednesday. He gets another crack at the
Cubs on Monday at Busch Stadium, where he has won eight
straight games dating to last season. Morris is 6-2 in 13
career games against Chicago.

The Cubs counter with Kerry Wood (4-2, 2.51), who is coming off
his fourth career complete game. He allowed four singles and two
walks with nine strikeouts in his third career shutout, an 8-0
win over the Cardinals last Tuesday. Wood is 15-4 with a 2.66
ERA over his last 27 starts.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts against
the Cardinals.

"I think we're all going to be professional about this.
Sometimes out of frustration after you come out of a game, you
say things you don't really mean," Woods said of Morris. "I
expect a clean game (tonight). But I will protect my guys if I
have to."

The debate started when St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan suggested that Cubs coaches signaled Sosa pitch locations during a game against the Cardinals.

"Somebody on their team let him know locations. We let them
know we knew what they were doing and that it would be in their
best interests to stop doing it," Duncan told the Post-Dispatch.

Cubs manager Don Baylor called Duncan's statements "paranoia."

"They're trying to take away the reputation Sammy has built," Baylor said. "He's the only player in the history of the game who has hit 60
homers three times."

Baylor called it a typical tactic of the Cardinals, the Cubs'
fiercest rival.

"It's the things they try to do. They accuse you of certain
things and now they are accusing us of cheating," he said.

Chicago was swept over the weekend by the Milwaukee Brewers and
has just seven wins in its last 20 games.

After taking the final game against Chicago on Wednesday, the
Cardinals claimed two of three at Cincinnati over the weekend.
St. Louis matched a season high for runs Sunday as it rallied
from an eight-run deficit with J.D. Drew hitting a two-run homer
in the eighth inning for a 10-8 victory.