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Cubs trip trying to wrap up NLDS
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10/04/2003  8:19 PM ET 
Cubs trip trying to wrap up NLDS
Chicago, Atlanta headed for decisive Game 5
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com

Sammy Sosa is congratulated by Amaris Ramirez after scoring on Moises Alou's double in the third. (Anne Ryan/AP)
Game 4 Wrapup: Braves 6, Cubs 4

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs didn't need any extra motivation to beat the Atlanta Braves, but Robert Fick gave them some.

The Cubs had held the National League's top offensive team in check for three games, but on Saturday Chipper Jones hit a pair of two-run homers to power the Braves to a 6-4 victory and force a deciding Game 5 in the NL Division Series.

"As much as we'd all like it to be easy and roll out with a 2-1 advantage and score 10 runs and shut them out, that's not the way it'll be for this team," Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger said. "I hope our fans understand that. We're going to go down there (Sunday) and take care of things."

Eric Karros survived a freak collision with Fick and hit a pair of solo homers for the Cubs, who must fly back to Atlanta to settle this. Kerry Wood (1-0) will start Sunday at Turner Field against Mike Hampton (0-0) to determine who advances to the NL Championship Series against the Florida Marlins. The Wild Card Marlins ousted the San Francisco Giants earlier Saturday.

The Cubs-Braves series marks the 10th time the best-of-five Division Series has gone the distance.

The Karros-Fick mess occurred in the eighth. Fick bunted and Cubs reliever Kyle Farnsworth slipped while fielding the ball, slamming his right knee into the ground. He did make the throw to Karros at first and they got Fick in time. But Fick gave Karros a forearm as he passed first and struck the first baseman on the left arm.

"I think tonight when you sit down and see it on TV -- you don't need a whole lot of extra incentive this time of year but if anyone needs it, that's it," Remlinger said of the play. "That's brutal. I've never seen anything like that in my life. Not on a baseball field. Maybe on a football field.

"For it to even happen is ridiculous," Remlinger said. "Good for us."

"I don't really know what happened," Fick said. "I was trying to beat out the bunt. I don't care if you want to call it a dirty play, call it a dirty play. I don't know what you want me to say. They broke (Gary Sheffield's) hand. I know that's not (Atlanta manager Bobby Cox's) style but this was an elimination game."

"I know there wasn't an attempt to hurt Eric," Cox said, "but that's a good way to hurt somebody probably."

"That was poor judgment," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

"It's an interesting running technique and I'll leave it at that," said Karros, who feared that he hyper-extended his left elbow. "If you look at the film, you can make your own judgment."

Karros did stay in the game and belted his second homer with two out in the eighth. Jones connected on his second homer with two out in the Braves eighth off Mark Guthrie, who came in to replace Farnsworth, to open a 6-2 cushion.

The Cubs' resiliency has been tested all season. It'll be tested again.

"It was a tough day at the ballpark," Baker said, "but when the series started, I mean, you know you're playing a quality team that's been there before. Deep down in my heart -- I didn't want to admit this -- but I thought it was going to go to five games. We've got to go to Atlanta."

The Braves were batting .191 in the first three games in large part because of the Cubs starting pitching. Matt Clement (0-1), who was the winner one week ago when the Cubs clinched the Central Division, served up eight hits and walked four over 4 2/3 innings, including Jones' first homer in the fifth.

"It's such a good lineup, it's hard to keep them down," Clement said. "Everything didn't bounce the right way today. They got a lot of their hits with two strikes against me. They did it with their backs against the wall.

"Our team has done its best with its back against the wall," Clement said. "It hasn't been easy for us all year so we might as well go to Atlanta."

The Cubs were vying to win their first postseason series since 1908 when they won the World Series. They can only hope the same rabid fans who followed them for Games 1 and 2 can get tickets.

Game 1 starter Russ Ortiz (1-1), pitching on short rest, gave up two runs on seven hits over five-plus innings, including Karros' leadoff homer in the Cubs sixth which closed the gap to 4-2.

The Cubs got things started on a positive note with two out in the third on Moises Alou's RBI double over Chipper Jones in left. Jones appeared to be a little unsure about where he was in relation to the brick outfield wall.

Atlanta tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth and Jones belted his first homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, to go ahead, 3-1. Vinny Castilla added a two-out RBI single in the inning.

No one in the sellout crowd of 39,983 had left their seats when Randall Simon doubled to lead off the Cubs ninth against John Smoltz and scored on Damian Miller's double. But Smoltz retired the next three batters, and got Sosa to fly out to the warning track in center to end the game.

Early arriving fans saw the goat, which was led into Wrigley Field in right. Legend has it that in the 1945 World Series, tavern owner William Sianis tried to bring a billy goat into Wrigley Field -- he was promoting his establishment -- but was denied entry. He supposedly put a curse on the Cubs and they have not been to the World Series since.

The Cubs will need more than silly pet tricks to advance.

"We're down to a one-game season," Baker said. "We're tied. They don't have the lead and we don't have the lead. Why wouldn't I feel confident?"

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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