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When You Come By, Bring My Stomach

That's an old classic Jack Brickhouse line from any game where the Cubs escaped jam after jam to win.

And that's a perfect description of today's agonizingly good (it'd have been agonizinly bad if they'd lost) 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks, winning the series 2-1 and the season series 4-2 over Arizona, and maintaining the status quo in the NL Central for another day, half a game behind the Astros and Cardinals, both of whom won their games today. With the win, the Cubs equalled their victory total -- 67 -- from the 2002 season, with 33 games to go.

So many things went wrong in today's game, I hardly know where to begin. The Cubs left a ridiculous 15 men on base, including two bases-loaded, none-out situations in which they scored a total of one run. The defense was poor, and prolonged the game in the 9th inning when Ramon Martinez decided to hot-dog what should have been a game-ending double play grounder.

But credit Matt Clement, who after a shaky first couple of innings settled down to a marvelous 7-inning-plus (and that's yet another story), nine-strikeout performance, his second win over Arizona this month.

Here's the other story: I seriously wonder if Dusty Baker has any idea how to handle his bullpen. Why did he even allow Clement to come out for the 8th inning? He was already at 105 pitches, and when Danny Bautista singled, Baker was forced to bring in Kyle Farnsworth, who then struggled through an inning where he alternately threw 100-MPH heat, or pitches way out of the strike zone. I simply don't understand why Farnsworth didn't start the eighth.

Then, after Kyle got in trouble, Dusty had Joe Borowski warming up early, and though he wasn't needed, it was clear that even in the domed stadium, it was hot -- by the time the 9th was over Joe was drenched in sweat -- and he might have been spent before he even came into the game, although to be fair, Borowski's 37-pitch inning was 18 pitches longer than it should have been, after Martinez botched the double-play ball.

Borowski's been oddly misused -- the last game he threw in was Mark Prior's gem on Wednesday, a 6-0 blowout where he wasn't really needed. Obviously, he hasn't been needed in a save situation since then, but he didn't seem at his best. Luckily, with the day off tomorrow, he should be well-rested for the St. Louis series, as should the rest of the bullpen.

If you didn't see the game on TV, it once again pointed out how good Steve Stone is; he virtually called every single pitch that Borowski made, told us which pitches he'd need to throw to get the last hitter, Steve Finley, out, and I'm always amazed, though I shouldn't be, at how accurate he is. Stone is a joy to listen to and I'm so grateful that he decided to come back to broadcasting this year.

The Cubs' offense was pretty good today, hammering out 13 hits and even drawing five walks, but the 15 men left on base is worrisome. The club could have, and probably should have, scored nine or ten runs with that many baserunners, even with no homers and an 0-for-5 from Sammy Sosa, who once again has not used the two-homer game as a base for starting another hot streak.

The club did get a few breaks today (and we deserve them, don't we?) when no fewer than three borderline check-swing calls all went in the Cubs' favor, the first of which resulted in the ejection of Luis Gonzalez, which, come to think of it, might have been a big factor in the victory. Having watched all three of the calls, and numerous replays, I think the one on Gonzalez could have gone either way, but the other two were pretty obviously correct calls. By the time of the third one, on Arizona catcher Robby Hammock, Bob Brenly came out and probably just told Kevin Kelley to throw him out because he was sick of watching these things. I can understand his frustration -- the D'backs are in the thick of the wild card race, and now that the Cubs are done playing them, I'll be rooting for them, especially since they'll be playing the Cardinals the last three games of the season at the BOB.

Speaking of which, with all three contenders in the Comedy Central having the day off tomorrow, I'll post (probably in the afternoon sometime) all three teams' remaining schedules, and some thoughts on where things go from here.