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Travis Wood has been a quality performer for Cubs

Travis Wood

Travis Wood

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Updated: July 15, 2013 12:27AM



Cardinals manager Mike Matheny knew he had a stud in Adam Wainwright taking the mound Sunday for a nationally televised showcase against the Cubs to end the first half.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum hasn’t always had that luxury — but this time he did.

Left-hander Travis Wood, the Cubs’ lone All-Star representative, has been everything a rotation ace is supposed to be but without the reputation of a Cy Young Award contender.

At least not yet.

‘‘When a guy has done what Travis has done this period of time, that’s a horse,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s been consistent the whole year. Matt Garza has been outstanding in his six or so starts since coming back [from injury], but for a guy who has been here all year, Wood is our horse.’’

Wood’s dramatic turnaround was something the Cubs hoped for but couldn’t be sure would happen.

After coming from Cincinnati in Theo Epstein’s first major trade before 2012, Wood didn’t even make the team out of spring training. He was called up in May after going 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA in seven starts at Class AAA Iowa.

He finished the season a lackluster 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA in 26 starts with the Cubs.

But Wood had a quality that would work as much in his favor as his left-handed skill.

‘‘He was very coachable, and he took what [pitching coach Chris] Bosio and [assistant coach Mike] Borzello gave him,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘His forte is pitching inside, but you have to open that up a little.’’

Wood, still only 26, has a 6-6 record and a sparkling 2.79 ERA after the matchup against Wainwright, 31, who has had his own bounce-back season.

After missing 2011 because of Tommy John surgery, Wainwright went 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA. But this season, he’s in elite form again with double-digit victories and a 2.45 ERA.

Both will be part of the National League All-Star team, Wainwright for a second time and Wood for the first time.

Wood’s consistency, measured in ‘‘quality starts,’’ has stood out. He led the majors with 17, meaning he pitched at least six innings giving up three or fewer earned runs.

He didn’t meet the mark for only the second time this season.

Wood exited in the sixth with two outs and two men on, trailing 3-1 after throwing 100 pitches.

The only other time he came up short was his May 25 start at Cincinnati when he also went 52/3 innings but gave up five runs.

Darwin Barney’s three-run homer in the sixth took Wood off the hook. Barney’s sixth of the season came with two outs against Wainwright and gave him four RBI on the night.

The Cardinals regained the lead in the seventh off Matt Guerrier.

Wood gave up 10 hits and walked three with only one strikeout.

The Cards scored in the first inning on three singles and had three more singles in the third, the RBI coming on Pete Kozma’s bunt single.

In the fourth, Allen Craig doubled and scored on David Freese’s dribbler inside the third-base line just past Luis Valbuena.

‘‘Consistency has been the best thing [about Wood],’’ righty Jeff Samardzija said. ‘‘He’s had some tough breaks, but he’s been good about keeping [his approach] the same.’’



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