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MIAMI -- Well, this wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

The Cubs were supposed to finish their three-game sweep of the Marlins here tonight and come back home the National League champions.

Josh Beckett, who some Marlins fans seated near me compared to Kerry Wood, had other ideas, and threw a two-hit shutout, and the Marlins won NLCS game five 4-0 to take the series back to Chicago for game six on Tuesday night.

Beckett threw the first postseason shutout against the Cubs since Babe Ruth in the 1918 World Series, and tied the NLCS record for fewest hits allowed in a complete game.

Seriously, there was nothing Carlos Zambrano could have done; he threw gamely for five innings, and my dad called me in the fourth to say that Dusty had gone too long with him again; turned out he was right, but there's no way you could pull a starter in that situation that early, in a scoreless tie, even though he was clearly struggling. And anyway, no one was going to beat Beckett tonight -- he was a man obviously on a mission, and look -- the Marlins are a good team, they wouldn't have gotten here otherwise, and the Cubs have Mark Prior going against a guy who is normally the Marlins'fifth starter, Carl Pavano. I don't want to sound overconfident, but I am confident.

We didn't have tickets today -- or shall I say, I didn't have one, so Jessica and Mike gave up their upper deck rotten seats (in fact, there were so many sellers and so few buyers that we found a couple of Cub fans and literally gave them away, making a couple who had driven down for the day very happy), and we all got single seats. I wound up in the club level seats, and though they do have a very nice carpeted concourse with TV monitors, it's the same mediocre food as the rest of the ballpark. I did have a Diet Coke, but that was it for ballpark food today.

Jessica wound up getting her seat from a guy who was some sort of corporate honcho at Hooter's, of all places, and he gave her his business card which gave $20 off food and drink there. Not really Hooter's fans, we decided the $20 was worth it and drove to one to eat afterwards. Hey, the food was decent, and surely worth the price. We took Scott Lange of The Northside Lounge with us to have dinner and then drop him at the airport, where he was figuring on staying the night before his flight back to Atlanta tomorrow.

Pro Player Stadium, among all its other faults, is also very strict about security; one of the oddest things they prohibit is "hard fruit" such as apples. Maybe they're concerned about razor blades or something, I dunno. Not knowing the history of the stadium, I suppose they could be justified, but it does seem overkill, as did the fact that they prevented me from coming from the club level into the lower level in the seventh inning, when I was trying to meet up with Jessica and Mike. Eventually we wound up meeting at gate F, near all the TV trucks, after a few shouted cellphone calls (it was really loud today, obviously, due to the Marlins winning).

Sign seen: "65,000 say: Build us a Ballpark". They really need one, and with a retractable roof. 65,000 is way too many at a baseball game, so many of the seats are way too far from the action, and though they have very few rainouts here, they have many rain delays, which can really hurt your pitching staff.

Right now I'm not concerned about the Florida staff, nor am I concerned about the Cubs'. If there is anyone who is nearly automatic, it's Mark Prior, especially throwing in what is supposed to be a cool but clear night. Mike said he was worried, somehow, that it didn't feel right, but there are a lot of teams who have games like this, even in championship series, and come back strong the next night.

It was a credit to every single Cub fan who either lives in Florida or the South, or who came down like we did from Chicago, to make probably the largest visiting team presence at any postseason games -- ever. But on Tuesday, Wrigley Field will be filled with 99.9% Cub fans, and that can make a difference too.

We remain once again, one game from the World Series. Hope remains alive.