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When You Come By, Bring My Stomach

OK, I'm dating myself.

If you're old enough to remember Jack Brickhouse (and that's almost 25 years ago, at least, not), he used to say that all the time when a tense situation was defused in favor of the Cubs.

That's what happened tonight in New York, as the Cubs beat the Mets 2-1 in 10 innings, their eighth straight win over the Mets dating back to April of last year.

Stat corner:

* The Cubs have now won 11 of their last 13 games.

* The Cubs are 15-6 in September, an even better percentage than last September's 19-8.

* The Cubs move up to 10-6 in extra-inning games.

* LaTroy Hawkins has saved two one-run games on the road this week.

Remember when I said "baseball is a marathon, not a sprint"?

Well, NOW it's a sprint. With now nine games remaining in the season, every game assumes 7th-game-of-the-World-Series importance. The Dodgers and Giants are just starting on the West Coast as I write this, and the Cubs increased their wild-card lead over the Giants to a full game, pending the outcome of the game in San Francisco, and suddenly all of us are huge Dodger fans.

It has often been said that "the good teams, the championship-quality teams, win these sorts of games."

Well, maybe, just maybe, the Cubs are finally becoming that sort of team.

I can't say enough about the Cub pitching staff tonight. Glendon Rusch -- without whom, incidentally, we wouldn't even be having this discussion -- threw six outstanding innings, allowing only one run, and striking out seven, and the rest of the bullpen, even Dr. Tightpants, shut the Mets down the rest of the way.

Kris Benson, probably the Mets' best pitcher and someone who's given the Cubs fits all his career, did so again tonight, but made one mistake -- and Aramis Ramirez, who is turning into an absolutely great pennant-drive hitter, smacked it over the CF wall for a game-tying homer in the 7th. Other than Aramis, who had two other hits, the rest of the club got shut down tonight, with only a Moises Alou double and three singles, but they were enough, as Mark Grudzielanek singled in the 10th. After a couple of really futile-looking bunt attempts by Corey Patterson, he wound up hitting a little grounder to the mound which advanced Grudz anyway, and then Derrek Lee, who had looked sick against Benson, singled him in.

Lee then finished off his rotten day by stealing second -- and I say rotten because he could have advanced to third on the bad Mike Piazza throw, and I guess he must have been mad at himself for not doing so, because he promptly got thrown out trying to steal third.

The Shea Stadium crowd of 28,196 sounded like it had a significant minority (maybe as many as 1/3) Cub fans. We are everywhere.

Dave Otto filled in for Steve Stone, observing Yom Kippur (as Shawn Green and I will be doing tomorrow), and actually did a credible job. I didn't like him much during the time he was doing the job full-time, but either he's improved or I've softened, because I found him eminently listenable the last few days, whether he's been on TV, or on radio filling in for Ron Santo.

But the real credit tonight has to go to my daughter Rachel, who just acquired one of the newly fashionable (for girls and women) pink Cub caps.

She wasn't wearing it and came into the room during the ninth inning, and I insisted she put it on.

Draw your own conclusions. Let's go Dodgers.