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Aramis Ramirez' Big Night Leads Cubs Over Astros 14-7

Now that was fun!

And it was almost as if two different games were played last night; the Astros ran out to leads of 6-0 and 7-1, in part because of a throwing error by Ryan Theriot on what looked like it would become a routine inning-ending double play (with only one run scoring in that second inning).

The Cubs roared back to score 13 (yes, thirteen!) unanswered runs and blast the Astros 14-7; it was their second 14-7 win of the season (the first was Starlin Castro's major league debut on May 7).

Is Lou Piniella still going to retire after all of that?

After watching the Cubs rally from a six-run deficit on the day he announced he was retiring from baseball at season's end, Lou Piniella was asked if he had changed his mind.

"No, sir," Piniella said emphatically. "No, sir."

A few more things about Lou's announcement after the jump. Regardless of where this season does finally end up, winning games like that is enjoyable for any player or baseball fan. The three-homer game by Aramis Ramirez was the fourth of his career; Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times notes how rare that is:

... who has hit the most games with three homers (or more - the source I'm using includes four homer games on the list) in one game:

Six games with at least three homers in them

Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa.

Five games

Carlos Delgado, Mark McGwire, Joe Carter, and Dave Kingman.

Four games

Aramis Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Steve Finley, Barry Bonds, Larry Parrish (!?!?!?), Willie Stargell, Ernie Banks, Ralph Kiner, Babe Ruth (includes post-season, as is the case for the others on this list), and Lou Gehrig.

Babe Ruth is the only one on the list above to have done this in a postseason game (there are others who have done that who have fewer than four such games; see the linked list above). So A-Ram needs just one more such game in his career to get into real rare territory. In addition, since returning from the DL, Aramis is now hitting .354/.393/.817 (1.210 OPS) with 20 runs, six doubles, a triple, 10 HR and 25 RBI in 21 games.

Ryan Dempster had a shaky outing, though you can't blame him entirely; that Theriot error extended the second inning and after it, Dempster both hit a batter and walked a batter with the bases loaded. He wound up throwing a ridiculous 113 pitches in five innings -- but in addition to the offensive explosion, credit to the bullpen -- Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol gave up nothing in their four innings of work, retiring all 12 batters they faced.

Many of us, including me, have criticized Lou Piniella for the last year and a half for looking distracted, detached and disengaged from the game he has played and managed for nearly half a century (he first played in the minor leagues in 1962, 48 years ago).

But I'm going to give the man some credit here. He was a good player for a long time and persevered -- he spent seven years in the minor leagues and had to go through five organizations before getting his major league shot, and he made the most of it, winning the Rookie of the Year award for the Royals in 1969. He then played 18 seasons in the major leagues, playing till he was nearly 41 years old (unusual in that era -- he was the oldest position player in the AL in 1984), and was a key contributor to two World Series winning teams as a player.

This is his 23rd season as a manager; he's got a World Series ring there too (oh, and how we wish he'd won a second one in 2008), and six other postseason appearances, including the pair with the Cubs. He'll wind up with a winning record as Cubs manager, and possibly be as high as tenth in winning percentage among all Cubs managers. He did an excellent job here up until that last week of the 2008 season. For that, I salute him.

For the rest of what's happened since then, it is indeed time for him and the franchise to move on. I've made it clear who my preference as manager is, but for tomorrow's off day, I'll have a look at a number of candidates for the job and try to look objectively at their pluses and minuses. And I'll have some comments on Jim Hendry's retention as general manager then, too.

In the meantime, there's another game to be played this afternoon. The game preview will post at 11:30 am CDT.