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Two Hours And Thirty-Two Minutes Of Boredom...

... and then six minutes of incredible excitement.

Mike had just got finished telling me about Chad Bradford, the A's temporary closer with Arthur Rhodes away on personal leave for a few days, who had tied the Cubs in knots yesterday: "Either he's unhittable or totally hittable. He doesn't have great stuff, but if you can figure out his motion, you can hit him."

Oh, and Mike? You also asked me, since you've been reading these posts, rhetorically, "Is this man ever happy?"

Yes, I'm happy today, with the Cubs' heart-pounding, quickly decisive 4-3 win over the A's at Wrigley Field this afternoon. Guess the Cubs figured out Bradford's motion!

It was unseasonably chilly today -- game time temperature of 60, nearly 20 degrees below normal for today. Jeff told me that he and Krista had bet each other that I would show up in jeans and with a jacket. I did wear jeans, but figured in the bright sunshine I'd be OK in a T-shirt, and it was OK, despite a stiff wind blowing straight in, which did prevent a few high fly balls for both teams from leaving the yard today.

We tried everything to get the Cub offense untracked today. The official "tomato inning" -- I did the ceremony myself today -- was the first... and the second, since the tomato splashed itself across two different squares, the second of which was Sammy Sosa's leadoff double in the 2nd, a ball that would have easily been a home run on another day. The Cubs could have scored more than one run in that inning, except for a weird play when Oakland LF Eric Byrnes trapped a ball that went for a base hit for Ramon Martinez, with Aramis Ramirez on third and Derrek Lee on first. The bases should have been loaded, but Ramirez held up and Lee scampered most of the way to third. Confused, he went back to second, and if he'd gone a little faster he'd have been safe, because the A's thought the ball had been caught, and they simply threw to second for what they thought was a force. Lee stood there thinking he was out, but 2B umpire Mike Everitt didn't call him out till he was tagged.

Anyway, the game slogged on, with Mark Prior pitching pretty well until the fourth, when he got into trouble by walking his old catcher Damian Miller with two out, and then after a single, .180-hitting Esteban German (Mike said he should wear #9, and that puzzled us till we realized he was talking "GERMAN" rather than "her-MAN", which is the way he pronounces his name. A very long way for a bad pun.) tripled in the gap.

Mark Mulder kept it close even though the Cubs got a run back in the 7th. It didn't seem like a one-run game, and then Bradford gave up three straight hits, two to pinch-hitters (Thank the Marlins for Todd Hollandsworth!) and then Barrett's game-winner. I heard Barrett on the radio post-game show say that he feeds off the energy of the crowd. Things like this can really work when a player has talent, I think, if it gives them extra adrenaline to get that one hit that you need in a situation, as Barrett did today. He surely didn't get that kind of feeling in the cavernous empty stadium in Montreal.

We gave up two of the seats we didn't need today to a nice couple -- before noticing that they were wearing A's caps. Well, it turned out OK as we talked baseball with them; they were knowledgeable and friendly and since the Cubs won, that's way OK with me!

Dusty Baker was also interviewed on the radio postgame show and said it was the biggest win of the year. That's an understatement. It was so not only for the swift way it was won, but the Cubs have had a poor record in one-run games this year, and this was a good way to make a dent in that, and show themselves that they can come back and rally.

With Carlos Zambrano, the most consistent pitcher on the staff, going tomorrow against Barry Zito, who's not been his usual self this year (incidentally, this game will be only the third matchup in major league history between pitchers whose last name begins with "Z", and no, that's not my research, it was in today's paper. Last time it happened was last year, Zito against the "other" Zambrano, Victor of Tampa Bay), there's a very good chance of winning this series against a very good team, before the big series at St. Louis this week.