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Here's how confident I was:

With the Cubs leading 9-1 in the sixth, I figured the lead was safe enough, and was off to a showing of "Seabiscuit", and I'll post a review of that terrific (OK, there's a sneak preview of the review) film tomorrow.

That confidence proved to be justified, as the Cubs finished off an easy 9-3 blowout of the Padres, gaining their first sweep in San Diego in ten years, and running their current streak to 9 of their last twelve and four in a row, the longest winning streak in almost two months, since a five-game streak ended in Baltimore on June 11.

This game had everything: another solid pitching performance by Carlos Zambrano, who won his tenth and lowered his ERA to 3.25; home runs by Sammy Sosa (now twelfth in the NL and only two away from seventh), Moises Alou and Eric Karros; and a balanced 13-hit attack that even featured two hits from Paul Bako, of all people.

Most important is the runs-allowed total, only three. In the current 12-game run, the Cubs have allowed only 32 total runs, 2.67 per game. This team was built on pitching, and as long as the staff continues to throw consistent games like this, as I've been saying for quite some time, they could run up a long winning streak. This could be the beginning of such a streak. In the three losses, the only game in which the club was really not in the game at all, was the July 30 6-2 loss to the Giants; the 3-1 loss to Houston on July 26 was a case of simply being outpitched, and the 4-3 loss to Arizona can be chalked up to bullpen failure, and I'd think any team is entitled to one bullpen implosion every twelve games.

At this writing the Mets are trying to hang on to a 5-4 lead over Houston in the 9th; if they can do so the Cubs will cut the lead to only a game and a half.

I like the pitching matchups in L.A. this weekend: the Cubs ought to be able to hit Andy Ashby and Wilson Alvarez, and though Kevin Brown has a 2.13 ERA and has been tough on the Cubs in his NL career, at least the club has Mark Prior to match up with him.

Tomorrow night, my entire family, plus Carole, and Howard and his family, are heading out to Rockford to see Dave's team, the Riverhawks of the Frontier League, play. I'll post on that game, as well as the Cub game, probably Saturday morning, and tomorrow morning, the review of "Seabiscuit".

Late update! The Mets hung on to beat the Astros! Gosh, am I glad I don't have to root for the Mets this weekend, but I thank them for taking two of three at Houston. This weekend, the Astros host the Expos and the Braves will be at St. Louis.

Night, everyone!