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No rally this time as Wood ends Cubs' funk

CHICAGO (AP) -- Kerry Wood had an answer for everything against
the Chicago White Sox. The Cubs ace was just as decisive when asked
about the crosstown series with their American League rivals.

So, was Wood happy to see it end?

"Yes. Now we can worry about playing baseball," Wood said
after Sunday's 5-2 win. "It's a fun series for the fans and
everybody enjoys the Cubs-White Sox rivalry. But for us, it's
another game and there is a lot of attention that we feel is
sometimes a little overboard.

"I'm just glad it's over with."

Wood's solid outing and home runs from Moises Alou and Jose
Hernandez off Esteban Loaiza helped the Cubs end a season-long
losing skid that had reached four games. It also prevented a
three-game sweep by the White Sox, who won the previous two in
their final at-bat.

"Going into spring training, we felt we shouldn't have any
long, spiraling losing streaks," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
"Kerry gave a gusty performance. That's what an ace does."

Wood (8-5) won for the fourth time in five starts after going
the entire month of May without a victory.

He gave up two runs on four hits in eight innings, pitching out
of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh for his first win in six
career starts against the White Sox.

The hard-throwing right-hander walked two and struck out seven
before 44,858 fans. Joe Borowski got the final two outs in his
first appearance since blowing a save Thursday against Milwaukee.

Leading by three, Wood walked the leadoff batter in the seventh
and gave up a single to Carlos Lee. After Jose Valentin flied out
to the warning track in right, Wood walked Aaron Rowand to load the
bases with one out and wake up the crowd.

With White Sox fans expecting another late-inning rally, Wood
struck out pinch-hitter Armando Rios with a nasty slider and got
Willie Harris on a fly to right to end the threat.

"I had a pretty good slider today and I kept throwing it and
the guys kept swinging at it and chasing it," Wood said. "We
decided, throw a fastball away to get ahead and then we'll throw a
little slider in the dust and it worked out for us."

The game featured two of baseball's most dominating pitchers
this season in Wood and Loaiza, who entered leading the majors with
a 1.99 ERA. Wood leads the majors in strikeouts with 143.

The Cubs hit Loaiza (11-3) hard starting in the fourth when
Sammy Sosa singled to center with one out, drawing loud boos from
fans who have delighted in taunting the former South Sider.

The jeers were quickly silenced when Alou hit the next pitch
deep into the left-field bleachers for his 10th homer. Eric Karros
followed with his second double of the game and scored on Tom
Goodwin's single for a 3-1 lead.

Sosa finished the series 2-for-12 with five strikeouts. Nobody
was happier to see the series come to an end than Sosa.

"Every time they have a chance to play against us, they play
like it's the World Series," Sosa said. "It's over and we
survived."

Moments after the final out, Baker emerged from the Cubs dugout
and walked across the field to congratulate Jerry Manuel, giving
the White Sox manager a handshake and a quick hug. The two are
close friends, growing up in the same area near Sacramento, Calif.

It was one of the few acts of kindness during a fight-filled
afternoon.

Several skirmishes broke out in the upper deck late in the game.
At one point, a half-dozen cups of beer -- and at least one shoe --
went sailing through the air.

"I haven't seen that many fights since Dodgers-Giants in San
Francisco," Baker said. "I even saw women fight."

Loaiza went seven innings, allowing five runs -- four earned -- on
nine hits and one walk. His ERA climbed to 2.18.

Despite the loss, the White Sox have won six of their last nine
heading into a key series against the Minnesota Twins.

"The last three series we've played good baseball," Manuel
said. "Taking two out of three is good enough for me."

The Cubs scored a run in the fifth after an error by third
baseman D'Angelo Jimenez. Rowand homered off Wood in the fifth to
bring the White Sox within two. But Hernandez answered with a home
run in the sixth to make it 5-2 -- his first hit in 19 at-bats since
being traded to the Cubs from Colorado on June 19.

The Cubs fell behind 1-0 in the second on Valentin's sacrifice
fly.

Game notes
First baseman Hee Seop Choi is expected to rejoin the Cubs
on Monday. Choi was placed on the disabled June 8 after he
sustained a concussion when he collided with Wood in a game against
the New York Yankees. RHP Todd Wellemeyer was optioned to Triple-A
Iowa after the game to make room for Choi. Wellemeyer was 1-1 with
a 5.68 ERA in 10 appearances out of the bullpen. ... Rowand has
homered in consecutive games. ... White Sox OF Magglio Ordonez
needs one hit to reach 1,000 for his career.