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Credit Where Credit Is Due

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That's a phrase I used in the comments in the game thread to describe Will Ohman's strikeout of pinch-hitter Jeff Kent with the bases loaded and the game on the line in the bottom of the 8th.

It's only fair, because we have all ripped on Ohman and the rest of the bullpen when they have had one of their multiple meltdowns this season.

So when they do the job -- Ohman and Ryan Dempster shut down the Dodgers after that point, and the Cubs beat the Dodgers this afternoon 4-2, evening the series at one game each, and incidentally, also evening the all-time series against the Dodgers, going back to 1890 in Brooklyn, at 1106 victories for each team.

Credit to Aramis Ramirez, one of the hottest hitters in the league right now, tied for third in the NL with 12 HR and sixth in RBI with 36.

Credit to Lou Piniella for starting Mark DeRosa, who had hit a double and a HR in two career AB vs. Dodger starter Mark Hendrickson, and hitting him fifth, from which batting order slot he hit another HR vs. Hendrickson, his fifth of the season.

But most of the credit today to Carlos Zambrano, who actually at last looked like the Z of old, the ace of the staff, before he ran out of gas in the 8th inning. He was "on" from the first inning, where he put the Dodgers down 1-2-3; he wound up with eight strikeouts and, more importantly, only one walk. The key wasn't velocity -- many of you have complained about his velocity being down, and maybe it is -- but the terrific movement he had on his pitches today, particularly his slider. Z's ERA is still ghastly at 5.24, but that's down 0.37 in one game; it was his fifth win of the year. That's a full two weeks ahead of when he registered his fifth win last year -- that didn't come till June 10, 2006, although his ERA was 2.93 on that date.

And credit to Ryan Dempster for ending it with a double-play ball after giving us all heart failure yet again with two singles allowed, putting the tying run on base and giving us visions of that Thursday game in New York (I'm not even going to give you a link -- you don't need to look at that again).

For those of you, like me, who were watching on Fox-32 in Chicago, we were "treated" to about half the game with a very large box showing the local radar; there were severe storms and a possible tornado that blew through Kendall and Will counties southwest of Chicago, while the game was relegated to a smaller box. I don't want to minimize the impact of these sorts of storms -- but really, did we need that large of a box? The small box could have shown the radar image just as well, while allowing the vast majority of viewers who were NOT affected by the storm to see the game. Besides, if anyone was in the path of the storm, they likely weren't watching television anyway, or perhaps had even lost power by then.

The rest of the NL Central plays tonight, so the Cubs have a chance to gain a full game on everyone (except the winner of the Pirates/Reds game, and does that really matter?). One hundred and sixteen games remain in this season. That is more than enough time to right this ship. This Cubs team is, as we all know, flawed. But so are all the other teams in the Comedy Central. The last two days, the offense has shown signs of life and production. If the bullpen can throw as they did today, rather than as they did yesterday, this team could be ready to go on a winning streak.

Rich Hill will attempt to right his own ship tomorrow against Randy Wolf, who, like Hill, has been both dominant and horrid this season. The Cubs played a nice ballgame this afternoon. Onward.