No, I did not make that headline up. It really happened.
Remember when the Cubs used to get solid starting pitching, even overcoming some sloppy play, good relief pitching and clutch home runs? Sure you do. It was called "2008".
Last night, the Cubs reminded us how that works. They were awful in the field in the early innings, committing three essentially unnecessary errors (would someone please remind Starlin Castro that it is permissible to eat a ball when he can't possibly throw a runner out?) and falling behind the Brewers 3-0 on a day when Yovani Gallardo was dealing. Gallardo had 10 strikeouts and have up just three hits. Only one Cub reached second base in the first six innings, Reed Johnson, who had a ground ball double down the left field line.
Gallardo gave up a solo home run to Geovany Soto in the seventh, but still looked strong. Unfortunately for the Brewers, he had to be lifted after throwing 109 pitches. That seems to be about his limit; his season high is 114 and he's thrown more than 109 only four times in 15 starts.
That's when the 2008 vibe came back and good things started happening for the Cubs. For some inexplicable reason, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called on Marco Estrada to protect his 4-1 lead. Estrada had two blown saves already this month, and tacked on a third when he gave up consecutive doubles to Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro, and then a game-tying home run from Aramis Ramirez.
Yes, a game-tying home run from Ramirez. I told you I wasn't making this stuff up. Incidentally, the double by Fukudome did something I have never seen before at Wrigley Field. It was ruled a ground-rule double after it got stuck between the top of the ivy and the bottom of the basket on the outfield wall. I've seen balls get stuck in the ivy, and balls go into the basket -- but never one between the two, until last night.
The game continued with Cubs relievers getting outs and making good pitches (for the most part). Rookie Chris Carpenter made his major league debut; his first pitch was slammed for an RBI double by Rickie Weeks, which gave the Brewers their fourth run (this was before all the heroics in the last of the eighth). But Carlos Marmol -- entering a tie game in the ninth inning for the first time this year -- and Jeff Samardzija held the Brewers down, setting up some 10th inning heroics.
Tony Campana -- who may be the fastest player in baseball -- legged out a double down the line. Kosuke Fukudome laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. No, I am still not making stuff up.
The Brewers brought Ryan Braun into the infield, leaving only two outfielders. At the time, with Campana's speed, I thought perhaps a squeeze attempt by Starlin Castro was in order.
Castro whacked a ball far over Corey Hart's head in right-center field to win it, bringing the team out jumping up and down like they'd just won -- well, something more important than a game bringing the team to 12 games under .500. OK, here's something: it brought the team record in one-run games back to even at 9-9.
This is the Cubs' seventh two-game winning streak of the year; the 14 wins in those streaks account for more than half of the 27 team wins. All the rest of the wins are singletons followed by defeats. You'd think that once, just once, or maybe even more than once, this team could reel off three wins in a row. With Carlos Zambrano on the mound tonight, it's certainly possible. They're playing better baseball the last two days, all the errors notwithstanding. The no-show count is down; of the 39,151 announced, again it appeared that about 30,000 were in the house Tuesday night.
It may not lead to anything, but wins are always nice. Weather permitting (yes, it's raining again in Chicago Wednesday morning), they'll go for that elusive third win in a row tonight.