... as it turned out, went to Michael Barrett, when his triple -- his first of the season -- flew past a diving Rob Mackowiak, scoring the tying run in the eighth inning today.
Jacque Jones then homered off Neal Cotts -- to the opposite field, no less -- to give the Cubs a 6-4 lead.
Cotts is lefthanded. Jones was 1-for-20 against lefthanders this year before that hit.
That's how stunning the Cubs' eighth-inning comeback was, and they added an insurance run in the ninth, and salvaged the final game of the first interleague series of the year, 7-4 over the White Sox.
I was pretty depressed after Paul Konerko's homer -- the fifth solo homer of the afternoon (including two solo jobs from Aramis Ramirez, who appears to be shaking the dust off his season) -- and a Mackowiak double had given the White Sox a 4-2 lead. Sign spotted in LF: "Sweep The Dusty". There were brooms everywhere. And the Cub comeback was accomplished just as quickly as the Sox' big innings had put away the first two games of the series.
Some of the Sox fans around me, and also on the way out, were discussing the Sox' inability to turn a DP on Todd Walker's grounder, which would have ended the inning. But that was no gimme, even though the throw wasn't one that Konerko could handle.
The real questionable thing was -- what on Earth was Cotts doing in the game pitching to Barrett? Barrett hits lefties just about as well as righties (.733 career OPS vs. LHP, .749 vs. RHP). Cotts, for his part, does retire righthanded hitters fairly well. But Cliff Politte was ready to go. I suppose the Sox would argue that they didn't want Politte to face Jacque Jones.
Anyway, we are all happy this worked out the way it did. Does this restore any grand hope of a miracle this year? Of course it doesn't. But for once, and for the first time in quite a while, the Cubs actually got clutch hits, strikeouts when they needed them from Carlos Zambrano (who had nine in total), and good relief pitching from Scott Eyre, Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster. That's the way it was supposed to have worked all year.
Here's how bad it has been. This was the Cubs' fifth win in May (May record: 5-15). It has been twenty days since Dempster last had a save, and he has been in only one save situation since then -- last Saturday vs. the Padres, when he gave up the 3-run HR to Mike Piazza.
I literally could not think of the last time the Cubs came from behind to win a game in the late innings. I had to look it up.
Know when it was? April 19 against the Dodgers, the night Derrek Lee got hurt. The Cubs are 9-20 since then.
That's bad, bad baseball. Sure, maybe this team isn't a world-beater. But it has to get better, even if it's a "dead cat bounce". At least that's more fun to watch.
There seemed to be more Cub fans in attendance today, or maybe that was just because the Cubs were more competitive. The RF side of the upper deck -- the part in the shade -- was half-empty by the fourth inning, because if you were in the shade on that side, with a stiff breeze blowing off the lake, it must have been terribly cold. In the LF bleachers, where I was, it was comfortably warm in the sun. I sat next to a "split family" -- the father and son Sox fans, the mother and daughter (teenage kids) Cub fans. I asked the guy how he survived, and he just shrugged his shoulders. But I was able to have good baseball talk with him, discussing the Cotts strategy, and other aspects of baseball.
That's what we all share, after all.
Michael Barrett was booed loudly, as you might have expected, but as I said, his triple proved to be "the silencer", as NBA play-by-play announcers will call an opponent's basket that calms a raucous home crowd.
And while Z threw a good game, he has GOT to watch his temper. After A. J. Pierzynski homered (to one of the loudest ovations I've ever heard at the Cell), Z apparently turned to the Sox dugout and to AJP and made some gestures, as if to say, "I'm going to hit someone." I didn't see this -- I had to get a phone call from a Sox fan friend of mine watching on TV in California! -- but it took all four umpires and Dusty Baker to calm him down.
Z. Maybe you need a Valium? Calm down, buddy. If he'd have hit anyone after that HR, his life would have been in danger.
Notes: to no one's surprise, the Cubs demoted Rich Hill to Iowa and recalled Michael Wuertz, which likely means Glendon Rusch will get another start. Rusch? Hill? And death is not an option.
Also, as noted in this diary, there is a possibility that Kerry Wood may have to miss a start or be "pushed back" due to "soreness".
All I have to say is: this really is getting ridiculous. Either pitch or be done with it.
I spoke to Dave about possible acquisitions the Cubs could make -- he says the Cubs should take a flyer on Edgardo Alfonzo, who was just released by the Angels.
Why not? He can't be any worse than Tony Womack. He had a halfway decent year only two years ago for the Giants. Not only could he not be worse than Womack, how much worse could he be than Neifi Perez at this point?
Anyway, one win isn't a panacea for all the Cubs' ills. But it does feel nice to get out of the Cell with at least one win, and not because of any "rivalry" -- but because the Cubs beat the best team in baseball, and decisively.
Finally, while I was walking to the park I saw another family, parents and two teenage girls. The girls were carrying a sign that had drawings of two empty chairs labeled "Red Sox" and "White Sox", and then a chair with a Cub in it, with the devil standing next to the Cub, and the heading "Baseball Hell".
I give them points for originality, at least.