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You Can Put It On The Board ... Nope!

Here's what really happened in the first inning when Ross Gload's long drive to right was first ruled a home run, then overturned and ruled (correctly) foul.

The ball hit the flagpole ropes attached to the foul pole, which is why 1B umpire Charlie Reliford originally called it fair -- he must have seen the ball change direction briefly. Three Cub players, including Sammy Sosa, rushed in to protest, and Sammy almost never does this unless he's sure he's right.

I haven't seen replays, but apparently they showed the ball going foul. You can see why it was originally called fair, though, based on what we saw in the RF bleachers.

This didn't seem that important when Gload doubled in two runs on the next pitch, but in reality it was a turning point in the Cubs' 6-2 win over the White Sox today, evening the season series at two wins apiece.

If four runs had scored that might have put the game out of reach with Esteban Loaiza on the mound. The two runs that the Sox probably felt were "taken away" from them kept the Cubs in the game, and the two runs that did score were unearned, due to a rare error by Derrek Lee, who couldn't get the handle on Juan Uribe's bunt attempt. Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano again, just as in his last start last week at the Cell, didn't have his sinker working early, throwing 54 pitches in the first two innings.

As quickly as the Cubs went down 2-0, though, they came back, scoring first in the Tomato Inning, when Gload dropped Derrek Lee's fly ball, scoring Aramis Ramirez, who had doubled. Once again, the Cubs managed a good offensive day (six runs, thirteen hits) without hitting a home run (the wind was blowing in from CF pretty good, and a couple of fly balls got knocked down). It could have been more except for three White Sox double plays, all of which were really close calls at first (in the third, Derrek Lee looked out, as did Corey Patterson in the 8th, but it did really appear like Carlos Zambrano had beaten the relay in the sixth).

The Cubs, through the four different scoring rallies, showed some real signs of life today, some fire in the belly, so to speak. This is something that must carry over on nearly a daily basis if they are going to make up the ground to the Cardinals.

Just as last weekend at the Cell, the Cub/Sox hostilities among fans seemed pretty subdued. With so many season tickets sold at Wrigley Field this year, the Sox portion of the crowd, though loud in the first inning, was fairly small (I'd say no more than 5,000 or so) and after the Cubs' rallies in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, pretty silent. I remarked to both Howard and Mike that a possible reason for this, is the fact that Wrigley Field this year is sold out every day. There didn't seem to be much change in the atmosphere compared to yesterday, for example. There were no fights in the bleachers, and we wound up giving a couple of seats to a nice young couple who were Cub fans, and in talking to them Jeff learned that the guy, who was British, was flying back to England next week on the airline Jeff works for. Small world indeed.

Now, of course, we have more potential injuries to worry about. Zambrano called out the trainer and coaches twice, and finally had to leave the game with what was officially termed "cramping" in his arm. This was probably smart after 124 pitches, and the official word is that Zambrano will not miss his next scheduled start, which should be Wednesday night in Milwaukee. After that we hope his next appearance will be in the All-Star Game -- his win today was his ninth, and since he allowed no earned runs his ERA dropped to 2.41.

A bit more concerning was what happened to Aramis Ramirez, who left with what was called a "strained groin" after a head-first slide into third base in the sixth. This is one player the Cubs simply cannot afford to be without for any length of time; tonight the word is "day-to-day". It's also still undetermined whether Todd Hollandsworth will go on the DL or not; an obvious situation for him was hitting for Francis Beltran in the 8th, but Dusty sent Todd Walker up instead (he was intentionally walked, something Mike and I thought was an odd strategy, even though setting up the DP, and it blew up in Ozzie Guillen's face when Mark Grudzielanek singled in the run that really sealed the win).

In case you care, the Cubs wives beat the Sox wives in the charity softball game played in lieu of batting practice today (say, maybe this is a good omen, not taking BP on Fridays). Starring was Danielle Grudzielanek, who has both power and speed. Maybe it'll rub off.

Today was another picture-perfect weather day (game-time temperature 75, with some high, wispy clouds), and I cannot remember a year in which there has been as much good weather for Cub home games (and we have nearly reached half the home schedule -- today was home game #39) as in 2003.

The next two days are supposed to be not quite as nice, so we may be dodging raindrops. This forecast calls for rain most of the afternoon tomorrow -- let's hope it holds off till late -- and then clearing out after midday Sunday.

Finally, I have discovered yet another good luck charm, in the person of my daughter Rachel, just back from summer camp. She has a newish Cubs cap which she likes -- and wore it all day both yesterday and today. I told her that she now must wear it every day. She's willing to take one for the team.