Monday, May 5, 2003

NL: Gonzalez comes through for Cubs again



By Mike Fitzpatrick
The Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs know they can count on Alex Gonzalez for a big hit - and little Darren Baker whenever they need a singer.

Not long after the precocious 4-year-old belted out "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field, Gonzalez homered in the 10th to give Chicago a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

"That's probably one of the best feelings in baseball, when you can hit a game-winning homer and have your teammates greet you at home plate," Gonzalez said. "Because it doesn't happen that often."

It does for Gonzalez.

The Cubs shortstop, who entered in the top of the 10th as part of a double-switch, hit his fifth game-winning homer in two seasons with Chicago - and second in four days. Gonzalez homered off Tim Worrell in the 10th inning Thursday as the Cubs beat San Francisco 5-1.

"If I can keep doing it, that'd be great," he said. "You don't expect to do it, but looking back on it, that's something unbelievable."

In other NL games, it was: New York 5, Milwaukee 3; Houston 5, Florida 2; St. Louis 6, Montreal 2; Los Angeles 3, Pittsburgh 2; San Francisco 6, Cincinnati 1; Philadelphia 3, San Diego 1; and Atlanta 7, Arizona 4 in 11 innings.

Joe Borowski (1-0) pitched a hitless inning to earn the win on his 32nd birthday. Steve Reed (2-1) took the loss.

Baker, the son of Cubs manager Dusty Baker, showed he's more than just an adorable bat boy. He can sing, too, drawing loud cheers from a standing crowd.

"Hi, everybody!" he said while his father watched from the dugout.

Darren sang at the Cubs' convention this winter, and team officials asked if he'd do it again Sunday as part of "Dusty Baker Beanie Baby Day."

Wearing a Cubs cap and a red sweatshirt, Darren said he wasn't nervous at all. He said he's been practicing "a long, long time," and he knew all the words to the song.

His mom, Melissa, held him as he stood on a countertop so fans could see him, and she sang along. Dad was singing, too, and he waved to Darren in the press box when his son finished.

"That was a lot of fun," Darren said afterward. "That was pretty cool."

He's become a celebrity of sorts since last year's World Series, when he was a bat boy for Dad's previous team, the Giants. Fans all over the country gasped when he was nearly run over at home plate in Game 5, but J.T. Snow scooped up the boy by the collar and carried him out of harm's way.

Baseball has since adopted a minimum age of 14 for bat boys, so Darren isn't in the dugout with his dad this year.

He obviously still having plenty of fun at the ballpark.

Cardinals 6, Expos 2

At St. Louis, Matt Morris (3-2) pitched a six-hitter and Scott Rolen hit a two-run homer as the Cardinals won their seventh straight.

Javier Vazquez (3-2) allowed five runs and six hits in six innings.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 4, 11 innings

At Phoenix, Rafael Furcal's foul pop led to two runs in the 11th inning for Atlanta, which won for the 16th time in 19 games.

One run scored on Furcal's sacrifice fly, and another on first baseman Mark Grace's throwing error. Marcus Giles added an RBI single, and John Smoltz got his major league-best 12th save.

Junior Spivey and Luis Gonzalez hit consecutive homers off Greg Maddux. Andruw Jones hit a two-run shot for the Braves.

Arizona put pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim on the 15-day disabled list.

Mets 5, Brewers 3

At Milwaukee, Cliff Floyd hit a grand slam and Al Leiter (4-1) allowed four hits in six innings to improve to 9-2 lifetime against the Brewers.

Richie Sexson hit his 10th homer.

Astros 5, Marlins 2

At Houston, Morgan Ensberg broke a 2-2 tie with a squeeze bunt that drove in Brad Ausmus in a three-run eighth as the Astros completed a three-game sweep.

Richard Hidalgo was 3-for-3 with a homer.

Dodgers 3, Pirates 2

At Los Angeles, Kevin Brown (3-1) beat Pittsburgh for the fourth straight time, allowing four hits in eight innings and walking none for the second consecutive start.

Eric Gagne finished for his 10th save in 10 chances.

Cesar Izturis drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning single off Jeff D'Amico (2-3).

Phillies 3, Padres 1

At San Diego, Randy Wolf (4-2) and four relievers combined on a three-hitter as Philadelphia sent the punchless Padres to their seventh loss in eight games.

San Diego right-hander Adam Eaton (1-3) left after five innings with a strained right groin.




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