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Fall Blowout Special

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano (17-13), getting your playoff tickets early, exchanging temporary-farewell gifts between players and fans, streaking into the playoffs. L- Gorzelanny (14-9), pessimism. Magic Number - 4 (Brewers lost today.) Things to Take from This Game 1. A fitting end to the regular-season at Wrigley A beautiful day, Cubs chasing down a division title, and a dominant performance by the Cubs pitchers and offense. The grounds crew does a fine job with the Stretch, and the fans are cheering every moment. Let's do it again in October 2. Dominant Performance by the Ace Zambrano had his A+ stuff going today. The fastball wasn't just alive, Z also spotted it very well throughout the game. The only concern is that after running hard on a double and then scoring on a single in the sixth, Z left the game after trying to go out for his warmup pitches in the 7th. Initial report is cramps. Wood pitched two even more dominating innings to follow him up, with impecable command of both the fastball and the sharp, biting slider. 3. Ronny Cedeno, playoff-chasing Hero. Filling in for Theriot, Cedeno had a couple of scratch hits, one for an RBI, and then a real lined shot of a two-run HR to put the game away at 8-0. 4. Lee stays hot. Two hits, three RBIs, including a two-run HR that barely gets out to right-center. He also pulled a double down the line, seems to be hitting the ball with power to all fields, now. 5. One of two things is going to happen. With six games to play and a magic number of 4, either the Cubs are going to the playoffs on the strength of a terrific September, or they're going to give us a new line in our history of epic tragedies. I'm banking on the former. Your rapid response, no-one-has-left-Wrigley-at-the-publishing-of-this-recap details, below

Big Day for the Big 3

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W-Hill (10-8), Keeping pressure on the Brewers, Home Runs, pennant-chase baseball on beautiful september days. L- Duke (3-8), Sam Fuld's noggin and shoulder. Magic Number - 6 (with Brewers loss factored in) Things to Take from This Game 1. The Big 3 Soriano had two HR, including his first opposite-field blast at Wrigley, a double, and 5 RBI. Lee went 4-5 with a HR, Ramirez had a two-run HR. All three have been on huge hot-streaks at the moment when it matters the very most. Theriot also had 3 hits and scored twice. 2. The Other Big 3 (+1) Hill got pulled after 5 effective innings and 73 pitches, with only a series of scratch hits in the second leading to 3 unfortunate runs. Marmol, Eyre, Howry and Dempster then closed out the game. A bit odd that all four pitched in a game that was 7-3 when Hill left. Marmol looked sharp, Howry and Dempster got hit around a bit, Eyre got saved on a spectacular play by... 3. Sam Fuld Fuld made a terrific play to turn a run-scoring extra-base hit with one-out in the seventh, into an inning-ending double-play that revved up the fans. Nyjer Morgan stroked one to the right-center wall. Fuld ran back, lept into the vines, crashing hard against them, to catch the drive. A strong throw to Lee doubled-up the runner, and kept us out of a potentially big Pirate inning. Fans just loved it. The closing in on the division details, below.

Game of the Year?

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Ohman (2-4), five-person infields, on-field celebrations, not backing in to a playoff spot, staying until the end L- Weathers (2-6), Protests, bad calls, leaving early Magic Number - 12 Things to Take from This Game 1. An Incredible Finish. If the Cubs don't make the playoffs, no one will remember this game. If the Cubs do, this will be one of those games people point to as proof of a "magical" season. Having squandered a few opportunities, suffering through bad calls and a mammoth HR that died instead at the top of the ivy, the Cubs rallied for three in the ninth off of Weathers, to win 7-6. Highlights were a Theriot leadoff walk, a Lee single, a Ramirez triple nearly robbed by a diving Hopper, and a Derosa infield single to win it. The dugout emptied onto the field, and the fans screamed along to Go, Cubs, Go!. 2. Another 5-hit game for Derosa. And two of the hits were huge - a home run to follow Floyd's two-run HR in the third, and then the game-winning single in the 9th. 3. Umps calls hurt Cubs. Reds Protest. The umps missed at least three calls that got under the Cubs skin - an unbelievably generous "neighborhood" call at 2nd base on a GIDP attempt where Phillips wasn't within three feet of the bag, a check swing strike on Soriano, and a safe call at first for Dunn, who was out by 4 inches or so. Yet it's the Reds who played the game under protest, on the grounds that Piniella first brought Soto and Eyre into the game, then (and we're talking a matter of a few seconds, here) informed the umpires that it was a double switch. A very strict interpretation of the rules might indicate that this didn't constitute "Immediate" notification, and that when Soto then came to bat, he was batting out of order. Can't imagine that this is anything even remotely worth worrying about. 4. Hill and Co. Hill looked really good early on. He was getting a ton of swinging strike threes on an unusually crisp fastball tonight. Ran into a bit of trouble, seemed to have a brief tweak of the leg, and couldn't get out of the fifth inning. But he struck out 7 and walked 1. Eyre, Hart and Ohman pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless ball - much like the B-team position players giving us a lift yesterday, the B-team relievers gave a huge assist, today. The thrilling, still-in-sole-possesion-of-first-place details, below. (And a recap of a parachat that might be one for the time capsule. Or the incinerator, I suppose.)

3 of 4 in St. Louis

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Jason Marquis (12-8), Foul home-runs, the B-Team L- Mark Mulder (0-3), Blowing teams out when given the chance S - Ryan Dempster (28) Magic Number - 13 Things to Take from This Game 1. Winning with the Reserves Soto, Monroe, Cedeno and Murton all started, and contributed with 9 hits, all 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. The big hit being Murton's 3-run home run. Soto looked just terrific at the plate, going 4 for 5 with a couple of doubles. Jones, Floyd, Theriot and Kendall all rest, and we still win. Good news. 2. Left on Base We had a chance to blow the Cards out of the game early, but left an enormous number of men on base. The Cards returned the favor later in the game, unable to convert on several good scoring opportunities, most notably in the seventh. 3. Marquis over Mulder Mulder looked like he didn't have anything at all on his pitches, and is lucky to only have given up 4 runs in 3 IP. Marquis looked really sharp, wtih lots of movement on the sinker, especially through the first 5 IP, before running into some trouble in the 6th and 7th. Marmol was wild, Howry gave up a few hits, but Dempster had a very easy 6-pitch ninth for the save. The Brewers won, keeping pace in the loss column. Your first-place details, below.

Nail, Meet Coffin.

GameCenter, Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano(16-12), Industrial-size antacid bottles, sparing the life of a perfectly good wooden bat, quick games, clutch pinch-hits.

L- Wainwright (13-11), closers in non-save situations, defending your World Series title. S - Howry (8), Ward, Zambrano's "ace" reputation, the season? Things to Take from the Game 1. A quickie. Before Isringhausen and Dempster stumbled through the ninth, this game was on pace to finish in just over two hours. Zambrano and Wainwright just mowed 'em down, each walking just two and striking out just three. A very, very effective game by Z. 2. The biggest pinch-hit of the year? With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth in a 2-1 game, the Cubs took down Zambrano for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward. Ward cleared the bases with a double, and some insurance runs that we wound up needing, because.... 3. A Very Scary Finish Dempster gave up solo HRs to Edmonds and Ludwick, bringing the game to 5-3, then a single to Molina, and exited the game for Howry, who then loaded the bases with two more singles. Miles grounded out on a very softly hit, slow roller towards the second base bag, which Theriot fielded for the out at first. The Reds have just beaten the Brewers, putting the Cubs 1.5 up on Milwaukee, and 6 up on the cards, with just over two weeks left in the season. Your first-place details, below.

Fallen

GameCenter, Play-by-Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Matt Morris (9-9), Cheating aging, death and karma L- Steve Trachsel (6-10), Jim Hendry Things to Take from This Game 1. Well, at least Eyre pitched well Eight pitchers used, and five of them gave up more walks than strikeouts. Trachsel was predictably bad, but wasn't helped any by Jacque Jones' very unfortunate bad jump on a Freddy Sanchez line drive to his right. (He broke to the left.) Did I mention the bases were loaded at the time? Wood had no control, Wuertz walked the only guy he faced, etc. etc. Matt Morris wasn't good, by any stretch of the imagination, but good enough to once again make Cubdom detest him. 2. Left on Base For awhile, it looked like the cubs could get back into it. We pulled from 7-2 to 7-5, on home runs by Soriano and Soto (his first in the majors), but Wood's performance in the eighth effectively ended that hope. We also left eleven guys on, including five from Derosa. Especially early in the game, it seemed like we were leaving a lot of guys in scoring position with two outs. On the other hand, it could have been worse - Pirates had 17 LOB. 3. We're out of first. The Brewers beat the Reds. Cheer the Bears on, then read the second-place details, below.

Living in Zeno's Paradox - just a half-step away...

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Marquis (10-7) , the Pignatiello clan, division pennant races, Peter Cetera.

L- Livingston (3-3)

Things to Take from This Game: 1. The Big O Derosa went 5-5, Ramirez and Jones had 4 hits, and Theriot 3. D, J and T in particular were smacking the ball all over the yard. Theriot excelled from the leadoff spot, and Len and Bob noted on several occassions his aggressive baserunning. We ended the game with 20 hits, a high for the year. 2. Marquis settles down Marquis looked terrific in the first and horrid in the second, giving up our early four-run lead. But he shut the door from the third onward, and with the relievers gave the bats a chance to stake the team to an authoritative lead with a 7-run 8th inning. Nice work by Marquis today. 3. Pignatiello's debut I can't say that it looked pretty, but Pignatiello pitched an effective eighth inning in his major league debut. His family seemed very excited for the long-time Cubs fan. Congratulations to Carmen. With the Cards clobbering the Brewers, the Cubs are once more a half-game out of first place. Like Zeno traversing the stadium, will we ever take the final half-step? Details, details, details, below.

Jonesing for First Place

GameCenter, Box Score, Recap, Photos, Play by Play

W - Marquis (9-7), corner outfielders

L - Cook (8-7), scary beanings

Things to take from this game: 1. Hope Jeff Baker is OK. As detailed below, Baker took a Marquis fastball off of the side of the face. It clearly was a pitch that just got away from Marquis, and let's hope that there are no serious after effects, either for Baker or for the remaining games in this series. 2. Second verse, same as the first Much like the first game of the series, the Cubs were led by Jacques Jones who had an RBI double in the fourth and HR in the sixth, as well as a bunt base hit. Once again Murton added a solo HR and Kendall also threw in some nice hitting as well. Remind you a bit of previous playoff chases where we'd get lifts from odd sources like Marvelle Wynne or Randal Simon? Maybe just a bit. 3. A great Coors Performance by Marquis Marquis really pitched well through six, before coming out of the game after the Baker beaning in the seventh. Good command, using the slider for a few strikeouts and getting a ton of ground balls. 4. Howry escapes the eighth Marmol loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth. Howry came in, and a weak popup, groundout, and flyout later, and the Rockies left with only one run scored. Great relief. The thrilling details, below.

Half-life

GameCenter, Box Score, Play by Play, Photos, Recap

W -Lilly (13-5), The Role-players Guild, Curveballs

L -Jimenez (1-2), Drama, late-night plans

Things to Take from This Game 1. Winning without the Big Three No Soriano, No Ramirez, and no hits from Lee. Ten runs later, and the Cubs offense showed that it could pick up some slack when it is needed the most. Everyone in the lineup, save Lee, could call it a good night. Jones in particular led the early offensive attack, with 4 hits and RBI, total. 2. Lilly goes Six It might not sound like much, but Lilly really labored through four innings. Completing even the fifth inning seemed like an accomplishment, and then Lilly also made it through the six with just two runs allowed on 127 pitches. Definitely earned his paycheck, tonight. 3. That Power Pen Wood, Marmol and Howry went three IP with no hits, not runs, five K's, and two Wood-walks. Could this be the sort of pen that works its way deep into the playoffs? 4. The better defensive team won. The usually sure-handed Rockies struggled a bit on D - in particular an error by Atkins, but also a fly ball just beyond Holliday's reach, and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt to start the game. All of the first four Cubs runs were unearned. The Cubs, by contrast, had a couple of stellar plays by Fontenot and Murton, and generally were solid all night. The half-game-out-of-first details, below.

Don't Call it a Comeback

Game Center Play by Play Box Score Photos

W-Rich Hill (6-6), Aramis Ramirez's MVP candidacy. L- Correia (1-5), Sutcliffe's Thesaurus. S- Howry (6) Things to take from this game: 1. Starting Pitching Showcase On points, I gave the contest of the starting pitchers to Lincecum - Soriano and Lee both whiffed for strike three on the high heat, very impressive. But both he and Hill pitched great games. It appeared that LouPa might have left Hill in one inning too many, as he gave up an unfortunate run in the 8th (with help from a bad Soriano boot in the outfield), but Hill wound up with the win because... 2. Aramis Ramirez Rules This World With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Theriot had a broken-bat infield single. Lee singled through a hole on the right side created by the hit-and-run call, and Aramis hit one to the bottom of the left field ivy, scoring the tying and winning runs. 3. A Shout-out to Koyie Hill The dude deserves acknowledgement for his early solo HR, given that he will now lose ABs to the newly aquired Jason Kendall. You go, Koyie. 4. No Bonds Needing to score a run in the top of the ninth, we never saw Bonds as a pinch-hitter. Instead, Winn, Durham, and Molina go down with a whimper. A really, really weak offensive lineup tonight for the Giants. The rest of the goodness can be found down below.

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