CHICAGO - Kerry Wood let go of the pitch, saw it land low and wide of his catcher and then walked off the mound in misery.
Wood’s return to Wrigley Field had gone from bad to worse.
After blowing a save in Friday’s 10-inning loss, Wood stumbled again Saturday against his former team.
The Cleveland closer gave up a game-tying single to Andres Blanco in the 13th, blowing the save, and then threw a wild pitch that allowed Blanco to score the winning run as the Chicago Cubs rallied for a 6-5 victory.
“You have mixed feelings about that,” Cubs manger Lou Piniella said after his team’s third straight wild come-from-behind victory.
“Obviously you like to beat the Cleveland club. Woody did really nice things here in the two years I was here and for this organization in the past. But our job is to go out and whoever is out there try to win a baseball game and that’s what we’ve done.”
Wood, who spent a decade with the Cubs before signing with Cleveland as a free agent in the offseason, declined comment after the loss, the Indians’ fifth straight.
“The guy comes back to a place where he was at for 10, 11 years. Obviously he’s a great guy and you want the best for him and I’m sure this is not the way anybody envisioned this happening,” Indians’ reliever Joe Smith said. “He’s a a veteran guy. He’s going to put it behind him.”
Luis Valbuena hit his second homer of the game, a solo shot in the top of the 13th inning off David Patton (3-1), to give the Indians a 5-4 lead.
Wood (2-3), who’d blown the save in Friday’s 8-7, 10-inning loss by surrendering a ninth-inning homer to Derrek Lee, gave up a leadoff single Saturday to Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome took off for second as Koyie Hill struck out and made it to third when Indians’ catcher Kelly Shoppach threw the ball into center field for an error.
“He got the strikeout and the guy was moving. You can’t throw the ball into center field,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
With the infield playing in, Blanco slapped a hard grounder past diving shortstop Valbuena for a single to tie the game. Aaron Miles then dropped a single into shallow left, sending Blanco to third before Wood uncorked the wild pitch with Jake Fox batting.
It was Wood’s fourth blown save in 12 chances and Cleveland’s AL-leading 13th blown save as a staff.
Wood had 34 saves in 40 chances for the Cubs last year.
“There is a lot of pressure on him coming back to Chicago,” current Cubs closer Kevin Gregg said. “That’s weird stuff that’s happened to him the last couple of days. ... He’ll put his nose down and get through it.”
Cubs starter Ted Lilly said players don’t enjoy seeing a former teammate like Wood — or Mark DeRosa — struggle.
“You don’t want to see that happen,” Lilly said. “We all hope that after they leave — those two guys were a special part of our team the last couple of years — that they have great healthy years. But when we’re playing them, if they are going to have a rough day, it might as well be here.”
DeRosa was scratched from the starting lineup Saturday after hitting a wall chasing a foul fly Friday but did pinch-hit and struck out.
The Cubs’ win was their third straight. They rallied from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Indians on Friday. And they had come back from a 5-1 deficit with two at-bats left to beat the White Sox 6-5 on Thursday.
Pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir homered Saturday in the sixth for Chicago and Lee connected in the fifth, his fourth homer in three games. Jhonny Peralta also homered for the Indians.
Valbuena, the No. 8 batter who entered the game with a .204 average, hit a long solo homer to right in the fifth off Llly. That gave the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Hoffpauir’s two-run homer off Tomo Ohka to put the Cubs ahead 4-3 in the sixth on a warm and windy day at Wrigley Field. But Cleveland tied it when Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol walked Peralta with the bases loaded in the seventh.
NOTES: Fukudome doubled in the sixth to snap an 0-for-23 skid and finished with four hits to tie a career high. ... Lee has a 17-game hitting streak.
Peralta led off the sixth with his third homer of the season, a long drive to left that gave the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Cleveland’s first two batters of the game, Jamey Carroll and Peralta, hit back-to-back doubles off Lilly for an early 1-0 lead.
Notes: Cleveland LF Mark DeRosa, who hit his leg against a brick wall in the Cubs’ bullpen while chasing a foul fly Friday, was scratched from the starting lineup, but came up as pinch-hitter in the eighth and struck out with two runners on. ... Indians’ CF Grady Sizemore took batting practice and did some throwing Saturday as he recovers on the disabled list from a sore left elbow. . ... Fukudome doubled in the sixth to snap an 0-for-23 skid and finished with four hits to tie a career high. ... Lee has a 17-game hitting streak.
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