Gary Matthews says first thing every morning he checks the velocity and direction of the wind to see if it will be blowing in or out at Wrigley Field.

Matthews woke up this morning, "and found it was blowing out: 17 miles per hour from the southwest," he said. "That's our kind of game."

The wind picked up to about 20 mph by game time, but Matthews didn't need it to hit two home runs, a solo to left and a three-run drive to the opposite field.

After the second one, with the Cubs well on their way to a 13-0 victory, Matthews came out to make a curtain call at the request of more than 36,000 fans.

The man called "Sarge" because of his take-charge attitude came out and saluted the fans behind the third base dugout.

"Even though I hit two today, that's really not my game," Matthews said. "I wasn't really swinging that hard. I was swinging to hit line drives each time, and they just got high enough."

The first one didn't even get high enough to take advantage of the strong wind. The second one carried well, but it, too, would have been into the basket (in front of the outfield seats), at least, on a windless day.

But Matthews has been saluting the fans here like that all year, ever since he came over from Philadelphia in a trade. Many say Chicago's success this season owes as much to Matthews as to Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe.

The two home runs, coupled with his three against the Dodgers last fall, gave Matthews homers in four consecutive National League championship series games, a record. "I cannot explain that," he said.

He elaborated a bit more when someone asked if he thought he could repeat as most valuable player of the playoffs.

"I said to my teammates earlier, 'Don't be afraid to dethrone me,' " Matthews said.

Matthews was one of three ex-Phillies who played a significant part in the Cubs' victory. There were Bob Dernier's leadoff home run and Keith Moreland's bases-loaded sliding catch.

Matthews was asked if he hoped the wind would be blowing out again on Wednesday.

"You bet. Of course," he said. "The team is made for this park. We're the best at hitting the ball one foot more than it needs to go."