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ZIMMER’S STRATEGY PAYS OFF IN CUBS’ WIN OVER GIANTS

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Oh, that zany Don Zimmer.

Zimmer made another unusual move Sunday, again involving Will Clark, and this one worked as the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2.The Cubs swept the three-game series and extended their winning streak to seven, their longest since April 1989. The Giants lost their fourth straight and remained 10 games behind Cincinnati in the National League West.

The Giants tied the game 2-2 with two outs in the eighth inning when Zimmer brought in left-handed reliever Paul Assenmacher. Zimmer told Assenmacher to intentionally walk pinch hitter Bill Bathe, a righty batting .263 in 19 at-bats this season, to face the left-handed Clark.

Know what? Clark struck out.

"I wouldn't want to make a habit of that," Zimmer said. "But if he hit a three-run homer, I could see the headlines now `Zimmer walks Bathe to get to a $15 million hitter.'

"I never thought I'd see the day I'd do that," Zimmer said, "but he's having trouble seeing the ball and he isn't swinging well right now. Assenmacher is a tough pitcher against left-handers."

In Game 1 of last year's playoffs, Zimmer was criticized for letting struggling starter Greg Maddux pitch to Clark while Assenmacher was ready in the bullpen. Clark wound up hitting a grand slam.

In Game 2, in a similar situation, Zimmer brought in Assenmacher to face Clark and got the out he needed.