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Wood's new slider gets the job done
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/10/2008 12:15 AM

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Unhappy with his command of his slider, Kerry Wood decided to re-grip it and not rip it so hard.

Wood showcased his new slider with the game on the line Friday and shut down Arizona while throwing nothing but strikes.

Wood fanned Chris Young on 3 pitches, then induced 0-2 groundouts from Conor Jackson and Justin Upton to wrap up the Cubs' 3-1 victory.

"I didn't have a lot of confidence in my slider the way I've been throwing it," Wood said. "So I kind of tinkered with the grip playing catch out in Cincinnati before that series started."

Wood has retired nine of the 10 batters he has faced -- allowing only a bunt single by Cincinnati's Joey Votto -- since he turned the ball's seam slightly and turned down the velocity a few mph.

"Honestly, it was a real small (change)," Wood said. "I feel more comfortable, so I can command it a little better. I'm going to stick with it."

Crucial interference: Arizona produced just two baserunners over the final five innings Friday -- and the Diamondbacks lost one on a critical call by plate umpire Ted Barrett.

With the Cubs leading 2-1 in the eighth, ex-Cub Augie Ojeda opened with a single off Carlos Marmol.

Ojeda then stole second as Eric Byrnes struck out on a 3-2 fastball, but Barrett declared Ojeda out because Byrnes interfered with Soto's throw that went high and wide.

Byrnes' big swing carried his body in front of the plate. Though Byrnes ducked, his bat remained high in the air.

"I threw the ball and hit something hard," Soto said. "I hit it with my middle finger and I just said something, 'Hey, Hey,' and (Barrett) saw it and he called it."

Arizona manager Bob Melvin walked out to discuss the call with Barrett but didn't argue.