Baseball's Best: Yanks/Cubs in 1938 World Series
CHICAGO -- Sixty-five years later, the Yankees picked up right where they left off at Wrigley Field -- with a win over the Cubs.
New York topped Chicago, 5-3, in the first of three games, as David Wells cruised to his eighth victory of the season. The game was the first between the two storied franchises since the 1938 World Series, which the Yankees won with a four-game sweep.
"Warming up, seeing the people go crazy near the bullpen, I loved it," said Wells, who had never pitched at Wrigley before. "It's a great baseball town, they have great fans. They kept it very clean. I was very impressed. There were some Yankee fans here as well, which was awesome."
Jason Giambi led the Yankees with a home run and three RBIs, as the Yankees evened their Interleague record this season at 2-2. The game had been delayed for 1 hour, 25 minutes by rain before getting under way.
"A lot of these parks are good parks to hit in," Giambi said. "I'm swinging the bat much better right now. I think you can see that we're starting to get our rhythm back offensively."
Giambi gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first, belting a two-run home run to left-center field. The home run, his 14th, was Giambi's third in the past four games.
"Giambi's had some good swings. The fact that he hit that ball the other way, I think he's getting his timing down. That was a big home run," said manager Joe Torre. "Any time you can jump on the board in this ballpark, it builds momentum. The fans here can really be the extra man for the Cubs, so it was important to get a lead."
New York opened up a big lead in the third, using a sacrifice fly by Giambi to increase the lead to 3-0. Robin Ventura walked and Raul Mondesi doubled, leading the Cubs to intentionally walk Hideki Matsui to load the bases for Juan Rivera. After falling behind 0-2, Rivera worked the count full before lining a single up the middle to plate two runs, giving New York a five-run lead.
"We had some good at-bats," Torre said. "The key at-bat in the ballgame was Juan Rivera. No balls, two strikes, and he got the two-run hit up the middle. That turned out to be the difference."
The Cubs cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning, as Ramon Martinez hit a two-run homer off Wells, his second of the season. But Wells settled in, retiring nine of the next 10 hitters after the homer.
"He pitched well," said Sammy Sosa, who was 1-for-4. "We hit so many hard balls that everywhere we hit them there was somebody. We hit the ball very good today. They caught everything we hit. He didn't make that many mistakes. He only made one mistake to Ramon."
With one man on in the sixth and the Cubs trailing by three, Sosa jumped on a Wells curveball and hit it to deep right field. Sosa went into his trademark home run bounce step, but the ball fell short of the wall, landing in Mondesi's glove. After the game, Wells chuckled about Sosa's bounce.
"Yeah, I saw it. It's all right," Wells said with a grin. "It's still an out. It's kind of cool to watch it."
Zambrano settled in as well, allowing just two singles from the fourth through sixth innings. Zambrano (5-5) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings, walking three and striking out five.
Wells continued to mow through the Cubs lineup with relative ease. After giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, Wells retired the next eight batters he faced. With two outs in the eighth, Corey Patterson drilled a solo home run off Wells, his 12th, ending the left-hander's day.
"He just really has good control," Patterson said. "He works the ball well in down up and out. He's a good pitcher and we battled him tough today."
Wells (8-2) went 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. In 12 games this season, Wells has walked just three batters in 96 1/3 innings, a stunning average of .28 walks per nine innings.
"Every pitcher knows that if you get ahead, get strike one, it's tougher for the hitter to adjust," Wells said. "He's out there playing defense, so he's not in the same mode. I challenge guys. I've done it since day one in the big leagues, so I'm not going to change it now."
"You just have to watch him to appreciate that he challenges people. He throws a lot of strikes, which keeps the hitters on their heels," Torre said. "You know he's going to make the opposition beat him."
Mariano Rivera notched his fifth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.
Roger Clemens makes his first career start at Wrigley Field on Saturday, taking his third shot at his 300th win. Chicago sends Kerry Wood to the mound, in search of career victory No. 50.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.