CHICAGO — The Cubs and White Sox found a new bottom at the box office for a second straight night, but that doesn’t mean Cub fans didn’t find a season’s high in pleasure.
If the Cubs can’t be in first place, the next best thing for their fans is knocking the White Sox out of first place.
(PHOTO: The Chicago Cubs’ Tony Campana gets picked off first base by the Chicago White Sox’ Jake Peavy in the eighth inning at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. The Cubs defeated the White Sox, 2-1.)
Of course, not many fans of either team really witnessed the Cubs’ 2-1 dethroning of the Sox on Tuesday night with an all-time low of 30,282 paying to watch as the Indians climbed back atop the American League Central.
The loss of the game and first place obviously didn’t go over well with losing pitcher Jake Peavy, who allowed only one earned run on five hits in nine innings.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but a team playing the way the Cubs have been playing, we have to beat those teams,” said Peavy, who had won his previous five starts against them.
“Please don’t take that out of context because the Cubs are a big league team, and you have to show up every night because any team can beat anybody. But teams that we feel we should beat that aren’t playing that well, we have to show up and take advantage of these opportunities.”
Instead, the Cubs seized the opportunities as starter Travis Wood posted his first victory in seven starts.
“It’s very nice to win a one-run game,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team is now 8-17 in that category. “It was a well-played game. To score two runs off Peavy is (special).”
The victory also means the Cubs have won their first series against the Sox since 2008 at Wrigley Field. Their last series triumph at U.S. Cellular Field was a sweep in 2007.
The finale of the six-game City Series on Wednesday evening matches the Cubs’ Randy Wells, who hasn’t won a start since last Sept. 4, against Gavin Floyd, who has won only once in his last six starts. Wells is coming out of the bullpen to start in place of disabled Ryan Dempster.
For the Sox, who swept at Wrigley Field last month, Tuesday was their third straight loss and sixth in the last seven games.
“It’s frustrating losing the series,” Peavy said. “We’ve lost three in a row now and if we want to be a first-place team, there’s no excuse.”
Wood finally didn’t have to make excuses after going six very strong innings and turning the ball over to four relievers, including Carlos Marmol for a save in the ninth.
“To get the first win, you get the monkey off your back, and hopefully you start rolling from here,” said Wood, who was acquired for Sean Marshall during the offseason.
Said Sveum: “It seems like he’s relaxed out there and making pitches when he has to.”
The Sox got their only run off Wood in the second inning and had him reeling, but wasted an opportunity to put him away.
Wood walked two batters before Alexei Ramirez’s ground-rule double scored one. And even though Wood walked a third batter, he escaped further damage when Orlando Hudson popped out and Alejandro DeAza struck out.
That lead didn’t last long, as the Cubs put together a rally with the help of Hudson’s error at third base, an infield hit off Peavy’s foot, a wild pitch and David JeJesus’ two-run single.
The two pitchers settled in for a real duel after that.
Peavy retired 16 straight batters and Wood didn’t allow a runner to second base in his last four innings, walking one and allowing two singles.
“It’s frustrating,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Peavy pitched a great game. He deserved better.
“We had opportunities. It just didn’t happen.”
And so the Sox find themselves in second place, with some preferring to defer panic.
“I don’t think it really matters if we’re in first or not right now,” Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “We’ve been playing pretty well, not great. It’s not quite that time yet where you’re staring at the scoreboard and seeing what other teams are doing.”