CHICAGO (AP) -- On a night when Darryl Kile was supposed to be on
the mound, the St. Louis Cardinals mourned their lost teammate and
honored him at the same time just by taking the field.
AP Photo/Brian Kersey
Cardinals starting pitcher Jason Simontacchi wears a black band with a No. 57 on his ankle as a tribute to his teammate Darryl Kile.
"It was tough. Darryl is such a big part. When he doesn't play,
he is on the bench,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We missed him. He says things during the game. It was very
difficult. It's going to be difficult. It should be difficult
because he was very special.'' Kile's familiar No. 57 was everywhere at Wrigley Field. On the
umps' hats. On the message board in center field. In the St. Louis
dugout where two of his jerseys hung by the runway door. On the
Cardinals' shirt sleeves. And, most certainly, on his teammates' minds. Their emotional
burden obvious, the Cardinals lacked the concentration Sunday night
that helped them take over first place in the NL Central, losing
8-3 to the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals committed two errors and appeared to be going
through the motions, one day after Kile's shocking death. "We gave it everything ... If we hadn't played, we would have
had huge regrets,'' La Russa said. "We came out and tried our best
and we got beat. "It is very possible that everyone has a place for Darryl and
can still concentrate on competing and winning the game,'' he said. "I thought we did it ... He was a teammate. He's going to be
missed every day, probably for the rest of our lives.'' Kile, just 33, was found dead Saturday afternoon in his Chicago
hotel room. Dr. Edmund Donoghue, the Cook County Medical Examiner,
said Sunday that initial findings of an autopsy showed he had
''80-to-90 percent narrowing of two of the three branches of the
coronary artery.'' He said the blockage was the "likely cause of
death.'' The loss of Kile, a tough team leader who never spent a day on
the disabled list during a career that began in 1991, staggered a
team already aching from the death last week of longtime
broadcaster Jack Buck. No Cardinals players were available for comment after Sunday's
game. At a team meeting after Saturday's game was postponed, the
Cardinals voted unanimously to play Sunday night. They took the
field with the support of Kile's widow, who told the team at a
memorial service Sunday that her husband would have wanted them to
play. Jason Simontacchi (5-1) took the mound, trying to become the
first St. Louis rookie starter since Allen Watson in 1993 to win
his first six decisions. He lasted only four innings, while the
Cubs got strong pitching from Kerry Wood (7-5) and homers from Alex
Gonzalez and Moises Alou. "Jason missed a couple of spots and they hit a couple of home
runs and that happens in baseball, no matter what the circumstance
is,'' La Russa said. The game had an eerie feel from the outset. Organ music that
usually fills the neighborhood park during batting practice and
between innings was silent. The only P.A. announcements were to
inform the 37,647 fans of lineups and player changes. Flags were at
half-staff. "There was a lot of silence out there between innings,''
Gonzalez said. "You could tell the normal play of the game was a
little different today.'' Even Sammy Sosa, who usually incites the fans by sprinting to
his position in right field like a runaway halfback before the
first pitch, was subdued, jogging to shallow right to start the
game. "Everybody on both sides was thinking about it,'' Sosa said.
"It was hard to get enthusiastic because all of our feelings were
going out to the Cardinals family.'' Gonzalez had a solo shot in the second and Alou hit a two-run
homer in the third. Fred McGriff added a sacrifice fly and RBI
single for the Cubs. Wood (7-5) allowed just five hits -- including Albert Pujols'
two-run homer -- in eight innings to get his first win in more than
three weeks. His last victory came May 30 at Pittsburgh. Wood
struck out four and walked three. Wood admitted that Kile was on his mind. "In the first inning, it crossed my mind. It was his night to
pitch and here I am walking out and picking up the baseball and
he's not with us anymore,'' Wood said. "It just didn't seem right to have to think about baseball and
go out and play baseball It's hard to be competitive in a situation
like that and stay competitive.''
A moment of silence was observed before the first pitch.
... The seventh-inning stretch sing-a-long was also canceled and
replaced by a more stately organ version of "Take Me Out to the
Ball Game,'' although some fans still sang the words. ...
Simontacchi allowed four runs and seven hits.