Cubs top Sox, win series

Tribune staff reporter

Admit it, baseball fans: Sunday provided the perfect conclusion to this season's Uncivil War. The Cubs' 9-6 victory allowed both teams to strut into the All-Star break.

The Cubs could celebrate after winning their first series in almost a month.

And the Sox could chuckle knowing their 55-32 record was still the best in baseball.

"This will send everyone into the break smiling," said Cubs second baseman Eric Young. "We don't want to lose this feeling."

The Sox have a feeling they will be playing games of far greater importance later this summer.

"I think everybody still realizes we're a pretty good team," said Sox left-fielder Carlos Lee, who hit two homers Sunday and went 9 for 13 in the series.

The Sox outhomered the Cubs 4-2 on a day in which the flapping flags pointed directly to center field. But three of the Sox's homers were solo shots and that allowed Kevin Tapani to earn this tag for the first time all season?lucky winner.

Tapani had posted a 1.80 earned-run average over his last three starts but didn't have one victory to show for it. He gave up six runs Sunday but earned his fifth victory.

"I basically had nothing but a fastball," he said. "But I tried to be aggressive and not to walk people. If they were going to hit [homers], I wanted to limit them to solos and keep us in the game."

Tapani did just that and the bullpen hung on. Steve Rain walked two in a scoreless seventh. Todd Van Poppel threw a perfect eighth. And Tim Worrell mowed down the Sox in the ninth to earn his first save since 1997.

Cubs manager Don Baylor called on Worrell after closer Rick Aguilera woke up with dizzy spells.

"[Worrell] was my secret weapon," Baylor said.

The Cubs' other secret weapon was the wind, which helped turn a pair of fly balls into two-run homers.

Trailing 4-3 in the fifth, Henry Rodriguez mashed Cal Eldred's rib-high fastball into right field. Magglio Ordonez went back ? back ? back ? and then watched the ball sail into the seats.

"It was a good high school field today," Eldred said. "From the mound, my first feeling was that Henry's homer was a popup in the infield. But they had to deal with it too."

Tapani was not about to complain.

"None of the ones I gave up were wind-blown," he said. "They weren't cheap."

After the Sox regained the lead in the sixth on Lee's second homer, the Cubs got creative. Damon Buford led off with a single and took third on pinch hitter Jeff Huson's liner to right.

Young then showed off his baseball IQ by pushing a bunt that allowed Buford to score the tying run and Huson to take third.

"It was the element of surprise," Young said. "I wanted to make sure I got the runners over and I'm not swinging that well, so it was the safe way to do it."

After Joe Girardi walked and Mark Grace hit a sacrifice fly, Sox manager Jerry Manuel allowed lefty reliever Kelly Wunsch to face Sammy Sosa.

"With Henry [Rodriguez] on deck," Manuel said, "I was hoping that he would be smart enough to pitch to [Sosa's] aggressiveness."

But Wunsch's 1-0 pitch caught too much of the plate and Sosa launched it into the left-center seats to give the Cubs a three-run cushion.

"The wind has pretty much blown in all year," Sosa said. "But today was a day where you just needed to go out there and make contact."

Sosa made enough to give the Cubs a boost heading into the break.

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