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Glendon Rusch For President!

Yes, I know he can't run because he's too young (29). I still have the "GEORGE BRETT FOR PRESIDENT" T-shirt I got at the 1980 World Series, the year that Brett nearly hit .400 and led the Royals to the AL championship.

But man, after last night I pretty much think Rusch could cure cancer, or solve the Middle East crisis.

No matter what they ask him to do, he comes through. After Matt Clement left the game gassed (105 pitches) and with his batting order spot coming up, in the seventh, Rusch shut the Brewers down with a 25-pitch, 3-strikeout, one-hit, two-inning appearance, just what the ballclub needed.

And this is another reason that if Jim Hendry wants to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal that would have Clement (and a mid-level prospect) go to Boston for Nomar Garciaparra, I say do it. Rusch could step right back into the rotation, and though Clement's been terrific, that's not a major step downward, and it would a major step up for the offense.

I was of two minds in the ninth, and I bet Dusty Baker was too. Rusch could have easily finished the game, but not sending LaTroy Hawkins out there, after his miserable showing on Sunday, would have sent the resounding lack of confidence in a player that a manager never wants to show. Rusch's batting order slot came up in the top of the ninth, but with two out and no one on, Dusty could have stayed with him, as he's a pretty good hitter anyway.

This is Dusty Baker's hallmark, backing his players, and he did so last night, batting for Rusch, calling on Hawkins, and Hawkins got his 14th save, striking out Brooks Kieschnick to end the game, and the Cubs had a satisfying 3-1 win over the Brewers, not only their first win in Milwaukee this season, but the first time they even had a lead there.

For a while it looked like Clement was going to suffer the same fate he did last time he threw at Miller Park -- a 1-0 loss. This time it wasn't a solo homer, but a sac fly from the worst hitter in the starting lineup -- .195-hitting catcher Gary Bennett.

The Cubs decided they would hit the solo homer today, getting one from Derrek Lee (his 19th) to tie the game in the sixth. Again, I say: if the Cubs are going to live by the long ball, they also have to learn to be patient hitters, so they can draw some walks and have some of these homers actually come with runners on base.

They actually accomplished this in the game-winning rally without a homer. Aramis Ramirez hit his second double of the game and then Dusty wisely pinch-ran for him with Ramon Martinez -- at that point, it's smart to rest Ramirez, who's just coming off a groin injury.

Then, yes, Tom Goodwin actually walked. It was only his third walk of the year in 68 plate appearances. But the key plays in the inning were Alex Gonzalez' flyout, which allowed Martinez to take third, and Goodwin... well, he pretty much walked to second base, as he was halfway there before the pitch was delivered.

It's not that frequent that the Cubs get two runners in scoring position in this way. I was almost shocked, and even more so when Mark Grudzielanek drove them both in with a single.

Here's how shocked I was: even though I had stayed up till the end of the game, and knew they won, when the alarm blasted me up at 3:30 this morning, I was convinced they had lost. Took me a minute or two to remember that yes, not only was it a win, but a satisfying one.

Cub pitching has been consistently good, despite the occasional bullpen meltdown, and this is why a long winning streak is still within reach.

Let's continue today. It sounded like a home crowd in the bottom of the ninth, and you bet the players feed off that energy. It'll be a rematch of the Greg Maddux/Ben Sheets matchup from ten days ago at Wrigley Field, with Maddux only two wins away from 300.

Time to start that streak. NOW.