Kerry Wood wasn't afraid to admit it.
He's grateful that his Cubs won't have to face the White Sox again until 2004, barring the World Series. (OK, stop laughing.)
"Now we can worry about playing baseball," Wood said. "It's a fun series for the fans, and everybody enjoys the rivalry. But for us it's a lot of attention that we feel is sometimes overboard. I'm just glad it's over with."
For the players, the Cubs-Sox series means six days of getting heckled by fans, six days of having microphones thrust in your face and six days of having your every move scrutinized by Chicago baseball fans.
Wood did the North Side proud Sunday, firing eight quality innings to lead the Cubs to a 5-2 victory on enemy turf.
But Sox fans can crow all winter after watching their team take four of six games for a 20-16 edge against the Cubs since interleague play began in 1997.
"Fortunately for us, we started playing good baseball with all the attention on us," Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. "This is something we have to continue to do."
Esteban Loaiza took the loss Sunday, his first since May 24. It also marked just the second time this season he has given up four or more runs.
The Cubs did the bulk of their damage in the fourth on an RBI single by Tom Goodwin and a mammoth two-run homer by Moises Alou, who turned on a cut fastball.
"I think he was expecting it," Loaiza said. "And he took advantage of it."
Loaiza gave up an unearned run in the fifth following a throwing error by D'Angelo Jimenez, who was starting his first game of the season at third base.
Jose Hernandez took Loaiza deep in the sixth to give his team a three-run cushion. It was Hernandez's first hit in 14 at-bats since he rejoined the Cubs 10 days ago.
The Sox tried to fight back against Wood, but the 26-year-old Texan was too tough.
Wood was in jeopardy of being removed from the game in the seventh. He had tweaked his Achilles' tendon after slipping on the mound.
But with one out and the bases full, Wood struck out pinch-hitter Armando Rios on a dastardly 1-2 slider and induced a popout from Willie Harris.
Manuel went with Rios because of his experience as a pinch-hitter. Paul Konerko, a lifetime .455 hitter against Wood, wasn't available after bruising his left shoulder Saturday crashing into a railing while trying to catch a foul pop.
After Rios' name was announced, Wood huddled with catcher Damian Miller to form a game plan.
"We said: 'Fastball away to get ahead [of him] and then we'll slider him to death,'" Wood recalled. "It worked out for us."
With his pitch count soaring past 120, Wood fought out of another jam in the eighth by striking out Carlos Lee with two runners aboard.
"That was a real gutsy performance," Baker said. "He threw a lot of pitches, but we needed that from him. He did exactly what you want your ace to do."
And that's stop a losing streak. The Cubs had dropped four straight before Sunday's victory, which closes another chapter on the series.
"Yeah, I'm happy it's over," Baker said. "No more interleague [play] and no more: Who's the king of Chicago?"
At least the Cubs were kings for a day.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun