Wood shines as Cubs pitchers continue to mash

Wood shines as Cubs pitchers continue to mash
May 30, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

Who needs a DH when you have the Cubs' starting pitching staff?

Travis Wood delivered another quality start and had the big blow offensively -- a grand slam in the fourth inning -- as the Cubs (22-30) beat the White Sox (24-27) 8-3 for their first series win over the South Siders since 2007.

With Wood's four RBI Thursday, Cubs pitchers have now driven in 19 runs in May, a National League record, and the highest total since the 1940 Detroit Tigers drove in 20.

Since May 14, Cubs starters have hit four home runs -- two by Wood, one each by Jeff Samardzija and Scott Feldman -- which is twice as many as the entire Kansas City Royals team in that same span.

"I don't like it, to be honest," deadpanned Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs' home run leader with 10. "They're embarrassing all of us. It's great; it's unbelievable. They're loose and having fun and they're keeping everybody else loose."

[WATCH: Rizzo, Soriano on getting shown up by the pitching staff

"It's good to see the pitchers hit so well," Alfonso Soriano said. "It's not like having an easy out. For us, it's like having a nine-hitter in the game."

Wood, who admits to going up to the plate with a slugger's mindset, looking to get himself in hitter's counts, has seven of those RBI by himself and is hitting .292/.320/.583 in 24 at-bats on the season. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a .903 OPS, better than every Cubs position player but Ryan Sweeney (.937 OPS in 32 at-bats).

"Hitting is fun. Especially with the way we've been swinging it lately," Wood said. "Our whole staff has been hitting. We take pride in it. Just being able to help ourselves out, being able to handle the bat.

"That way, we're not just a dead out. We can try to go out there and eventually help ourselves and the team."

Manager Dale Sveum said the pitching staff has been slugging it so well, the thought has actually crossed his mind to maybe hold off from utilizing a designated hitter in American League parks during interleague play. He hasn't done it, obviously.

"They've been a big part of winning these games," Sveum said. "They're not just getting a single and driving a run in. They're getting two-run doubles and home runs and able to put the games away."

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Wood helped put the game away on the mound, too. With the wind howling straight out at up to 24 mph on a muggy day at Wrigley Field, the 26-year-old southpaw surrendered two runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

"To hold a team down to two runs in six innings with the wind blowing as hard as it was out, you're doing something right," Sveum said. "He did another great job. With the wind blowing out, that's like pitching a shutout."

With the win, he improved to 5-3 on the season with a 2.75 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

"I just wanted to keep the ball down," Wood said. "I honestly didn't do that very well the first three, four innings.

"I was able to calm down and get the ball down a little bit. I was kind of all over the place, in my mind, from where I would have liked to have been. But I was fortunate enough to keep them off balance and make pitches when I had to."

[MORE: Pitching staff doing more than just giving the Cubs quality starts

Wednesday's game represents the Cubs' fifth straight victory over an AL opponent (dating back to the final two games of the Rangers series), the franchise's longest interleague winning streak since the 2001 season.

Sveum had been saying all week the Crosstown Cup has a tendency to send the two teams in opposite directions, while potentially vaulting the winning team to a hot stretch.

The White Sox had won nine of 12 games before dropping three straight in this series. After a six-game losing streak, the Cubs have now won four straight overall and boast a +6 run differential, better than some winning teams like the San Francisco Giants (28-25) and Washington Nationals (27-26).

"It came at a good time for our ballclub," Sveum said. "They were hot coming in, playing really well. We weren't except for the final game in Cincinnati. Hopefully that's a springboard to keep things going for us."

"It's a crazy game of baseball," Rizzo said. "It's the way it is. You just gotta keep rolling with it. We're coming together as a team and having a lot of fun, and it's showing out there."