Wood homers, allows 1 run in Cubs’ win
CHICAGO — Travis Wood was so dangerous at the plate Monday night that Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson actually changed pitchers before the Cubs starter could bat with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Wood hit a three-run homer, drove in four runs and held the Diamondbacks to one run in seven innings to lead the Cubs to a 5-1.
Wood (1-2) gave up a run and six hits over seven innings. His four RBIs and nine strikeouts matched career highs.
“It feels good that they kind of respect you up there and that you’re doing your job,” Wood said. “I’m not out there in the nine hole just to fill a spot. You’ve got to try and be the best you can at it.”
Bronson Arroyo (1-2) allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings for Arizona. The Diamondbacks have lost nine of 10 and have the worst record in the majors (5-17). Arroyo and Wood were plenty familiar with each other having been teammates on the Cincinnati Reds from 2010-11.
Wood tagged Arroyo with his three-run homer in the second inning and RBI double in the fourth.
With the bases loaded in the sixth, Gibson called on J.J. Putz to face Wood, and Wood hit the ball right back to the right-hander to start an inning-ending double play.
“It’s supposed to be the free out in the lineup,” Arroyo said. “Tonight it obviously wasn’t, I mean, (Wood) pushed across almost all the runs. He’s always been good at the plate, that’s something you just don’t want to let beat you, but that’s the way it went tonight.”
Wood, with a grin, admitted he was swinging hard for another home run when he faced Putz. The right-handed swinging, lefty-throwing Wood was unsure if an opposing manager had ever made a pitching change with him at the plate. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he has not previously seen a reliever brought in to face a pitcher.
“He was a one-man wrecking crew,” Renteria said of Wood. “I can see where (Gibson) was looking a guy who was swinging the bat today. His sense was he needed more velocity and Putz’s split.”
Welington Castillo hit a two-out bloop single to right field to score Starlin Castro from second for a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Ryan Kalish followed Castillo’s RBI single with a single of his own to extend the inning. Arroyo fell behind in the count 1-0 before Wood hit a hanging slider for a three-run shot into the left field bleachers. It was Wood’s seventh career home run.
Wood drove in another run in the fourth with an RBI double that nicked off Arizona center fielder Tony Campana’s glove near the wall. Arroyo stranded Wood at second by getting Emilio Bonifacio to ground out to end the fourth, but Wood’s fourth RBI gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
“He’s a good guy and a good pitcher,” Wood said of Arroyo. “I was fortunate enough to get him tonight.”
Diamondbacks left fielder Mark Trumbo hit his MLB-leading seventh home run in the seventh. Trumbo hit the first pitch he saw from Wood into the center field bleachers to cut the Cubs’ lead to 5-1.
One of the Diamondbacks’ best chances to score against Wood came in the sixth. Arroyo led off with a broken-bat single to left field and Chris Owings singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Wood struck out Hill, got Paul Goldschmidt to fly out to right field and forced Martin Prado to pop out in foul territory to strand the runners.
“(Wood) was hitting that outside corner and he came out throwing his cutter inside early,” Gibson said. “Mixing in his changeup, just hitting the corners. He tired a little bit there late, we had a good opportunity and we only got one run out of it.”
The Cubs had a prime opportunity to blow the game open in the sixth. However, they failed to score with the bases loaded and no one out.
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles