in Fort Wayne - a 5-3 loss

A sold out crowd of 7,023 turned out to see Chicago Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood make his a rehab relief appearance at Fort Wayne Memorial Stadium. The Wizards put forth a much better effort than yesterday's 12-2 loss, but still fell 5-3 on two runs by the Chiefs in the top of the ninth inning.

On the mound for the Wizards was Michael Ekstrom, who at 12-3 going into today, was leading the Midwest League in wins.

Ekstrom survived a rocky first inning in which an error and a base-on ball had two runners on with no outs. Ekstrom then beared down and struck out top Cubs prospect right fielder Ryan Harvey. Center fielder Jesse Schmidt then appeared to deliver an RBI single, but a great throw by Wizard's center fielder Yordany Ramirez cut down leadoff man Anthony Granato at the plate. Ekstrom then struck out left fielder Bo Schmidt to retire the side.

The Chiefs came back in the third when third baseman Aaron Smith's scored on a fielder's choice hit by Jesse Schmidt.

In the bottom of the same inning Wizard's third baseman Brett Dowdy walked and stole second with two outs. Designated Hitter Matt Thayer then doubled to right center to drive in Dowdy. Catcher Matt Lauderdale, now in line to get regular playing time with the promotion of Colt Morton to Lake Elsinore, followed with his fourth home run of the year, a giant shot over the left field wall.

In the top of the fourth, the Chiefs came back aided by an error by Wizards' shortstop Baudillo Figueroa, which proved to be costly as the next batter, Chiefs catcher Alan Rick, homered to right center to tie the game.

The Wizards came back in the fourth inning with a runner on third and no outs, but an infield single by Figueroa and a great catch by Chief's left fielder Bo Flowers on a Chris Kolkhorst line drive were not enough to drive in the runner.

Ekstrom didn't have his best stuff on Sunday, but pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. Mike went six innings striking out 9, while only walking two. The home run by Rick, however, was costly.

In the top of the fifth, Wood entered the game and received a loud cheer from the many Cubs fans in the Fort Wayne area. Wood threw 22 pitches, 15 for strikes and struck out Matt Thayer and first baseman Mike Baxter. Matt Lauderdale worked Wood to a full count before delivering a hard single up the middle.

After the game, Wood when asked about the difference between pitching in the majors and the minor leagues, stated dryly, "Its still the same game, its still 60'6" to the plate, and yes, the minor leagues are just as I remembered them."

Wood plans on making one more appearance in the minor leagues on Tuesday in Peoria, and hopes to come off of the DL on Wednesday.

After that excitement, the game was still tied going into the ninth inning. Wizards' closer Matt Varner went out to start the ninth but was pulled with tightness in his shoulder after allowing two of the first three runners to reach base.

"He was a little stiff before the game, and into the game he said he had some continuing stiffness in his shoulder. So we took him out as a precautionary measure," said Wizard's manager Randy Ready after the game.

Varner left with two runners on, a fielder's choice allowed by right hander Ricky Steik, who replaced him, put runners at first and third.

Ryan Harvey then just narrowly missed a home run, with a high shot off of the left field wall which broke the 3-3 tie, and put the Chiefs ahead to stay at 5-3.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Wizards rallied with Figueroa reaching first on an infield hit, followed by a walk to center fielder Yordany Ramirez with one out. Chris Kolkhorst grounded into his second straight game ending double play to end the game on a controversial call by the first base umpire.

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