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Not To Be Left Out...

The Cubs, I suppose, felt left out as the only team playing in Chicago to not score ten runs this week (the Cardinals, White Sox and Phillies all enjoying double-digit scores in the last two days), and so they did it all in one inning and coasted to an easy 12-3 win over the Cardinals today, splitting the series (and homestand) with what had to be termed a must-win.

I'll let you in on a secret. Howard showed up late, with a sandwich of his own from Jimmy John's (I hadn't asked him to bring me one today) and he ceremonially dropped a tomato piece on my scorecard, right in the fifth inning.

You're saying, no, the Cubs scored the ten runs in the fourth inning, and you'd be right.

But by the time they reached the tomato square, which was at Derrek Lee's position, they had already batted around, and Lee's homer was the tenth run of the inning, and the square that I scored this in, was in exactly that place, in the fifth inning.

So, Howard and I are now completely convinced of the Tomato Luck. We are not certain whether it can be any tomato, or whether it has to be one from Jimmy John's. We decided not to take any chances for a while, and keep the Jimmy John's luck going, which we will continue next week when the Cubs return home against the A's, and when Sammy Sosa, if all goes well, will return to the lineup.

The ten-run inning was the first for the Cubs since August 29, 2002, when Mark Bellhorn homered from both sides of the plate in the fourth, but the Cubs had to weather a 6-run Milwaukee rally in the 9th before nailing down a 13-10 win. It was the first ten-run inning at home for the Cubs since September 11, 1990, when the first eleven Cubs reached base and the first ten scored (without a homer), and the Cubs beat the Expos 11-6.

Today was even more interesting, as all ten of the runs scored after two were out.

Obligatory Corey Patterson knock: he was caught stealing for the second out, with the score still 1-0 Cubs, or the inning might have been even bigger. The Cubs tied the post-1900 club record for hits in an inning with 11 (set in the famous 26-23 game on August 25, 1922, which is the highest-scoring game in MLB history, post-1900), and nine of them were consecutive, right after the caught-stealing, which is only one short of the major league record, held by seven teams, including that 1922 Cubs team.

Moises Alou and Derrek Lee both smashed long home runs off Dan Haren, who had been hastily recalled from Triple-A to start in place of Jason Marquis, who had the dreaded back spasms. Haren became the first starter in baseball to allow ten earned runs since... yesterday, when Jon Garland of the White Sox gave the Phillies ten runs in the 13-10 White Sox loss.

At first it didn't appear the game would be played at all; it rained most of the morning, but then a sliver of clearing hit only the immediate Chicago area while the rest of northern Illinois was being poured on; still, there appeared to be only a couple of thousand no-shows in the announced sellout of 38,707, and the sun appeared briefly, though a soft gentle rain started falling again in the sixth, not hard enough to stop play. It got so weird that the second pitcher to pinch-hit in this series appeared, Woody Williams batting for Julian Tavarez. Like his counterpart Glendon Rusch, Williams actually hit the ball, flying out to right field.

Both David Kelton and Jason Dubois got some playing time today, and both made outs in their only at-bats. I'd expect Dubois to be sent back to Iowa when Sammy Sosa returns next week.

Carlos Zambrano came out after the big inning and promptly gave up the no-hitter he was working on when John Mabry homered to left after a walk, but otherwise Z was on today; he struck out seven in improving to 7-2. I quibble again with Dusty for leaving him in to throw 121 pitches; when you have a 12-man staff, why not use it? Francis Beltran finished up, allowing a solo HR to Ray Lankford. Beltran threw only three pitches yesterday -- why not let him throw two innings?

Finally, there was an unscheduled giveaway today, a scratch-off card. I wound up winning something -- didn't know what from the card -- and had to wait in a very long line to discover that I had won a can of nuts, to be mailed to my house. Some people won jerseys or jackets, but others got coupons for free cereal. One of the other bleacherites (seven of us) who was walked over by security, said as we were waiting in line, "This was about the most ill-conceived promotion they've ever had here."

Amen, brother.