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Cubs' Frantic Comeback Falls One Run Short; Pujols HR Lands On Kenmore

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Today, for the first time, BCB'er elgato ventured out to the left field bleachers to share a ballgame with me and my LF group.

At the very least, he can say he was entertained for three and a half hours. Jeff Samardzija looked absolutely pathetic against the Cardinals for four-plus innings. He issued six walks -- there were 18 bases on balls issued by both teams this afternoon -- and gave up a home run to Albert Pujols that hit off the back of the LF bleachers and was last seen bounding north on Kenmore Avenue, with ballhawks in hot pursuit. (Ken, perhaps you can fill us in on who eventually got the ball.)

The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 8-7, but not until five Cubs relievers had held St. Louis scoreless over the last 4.2 innings with only four hits, and the Cubs scoring runs in bunches in the fifth, sixth and seventh after spotting the Cardinals an 8-0 lead.

The Cubs' seven-run outburst was partly a gift, due to Cardinal errors by Brendan Ryan and Colby Rasmus; three runs were unearned. Rasmus overran a ball in the seventh inning hit by Xavier Nady that went for a single and a two-base error; a faster runner than Nady might have had an inside-the-park home run. Nady eventually scored when Kosuke Fukudome hit a fly ball down the left field line that was clearly foul; Matt Holliday caught it for a sac fly. 3B umpire Joe West -- every Cub fan's favorite -- called it a fair ball, which was ridiculous.

Incidentally, the Cubs hit no home runs today, which left them with 74 home runs at home in 2010. It's the first time a Cubs team has hit fewer than 75 HR in Wrigley in a season since 1993. (H/T: tweet from Carrie)

The Cubs got two more baserunners in the seventh thanks to a dropped third strike and a walk, and with Welington "Beef" Castillo up, there was hope of a tie, especially when Aramis Ramirez appeared on deck to pinch-hit. But Beef struck out and A-Ram never did appear.

So it all came down to a one-run deficit in the ninth inning and Aaron Miles, who had inexplicably been sent up to bat for Skip Schumaker in the top of the ninth, at second base. Maybe, we thought, Miles could make up for his dreadful 2009 season on the North Side by giving the Cubs a game.

As it turned out, he handled the ball on all three ninth-inning plays -- and nearly let Fukudome reach when he bobbled Kosuke's ground ball; Fukudome was out on a close play.

So thanks, Aaron, for nothing. With one more Cardinal loss or Reds win, you'll be watching the playoffs the same place all the rest of us will be -- on television.

A few more wraps on the home season: the Cubs finished 35-46 at home, the first time they have won fewer than 36 home games in a season since 1999, when they went 34-47. Attendance today was 38,057 (maybe 28,000 or so in the house on a chilly afternoon), bringing the season total to 3,062,973, the seventh straight year of three million or more. However, it is the smallest total since 2003 and the average of 37,814 is down 1,797 from last year's average (down about 4.5%) -- and the total in the house, obviously, is down more than that. I'd estimate there may have been as many as 500,000 no-shows this season -- and that's a warning shot across the bow of the ship of ticket sales, which has been full speed ahead for many years. Perhaps not so in the future; I've written about this before and will again before next year.

In the meantime, there are seven road games remaining, four in San Diego where the Cubs will have a chance to help decide the NL West champion and perhaps the wild card winner as well, followed by three to end the season in Houston. The Cubs trail the Astros by 3.5 games with seven left for the Cubs and six for Houston; the Astros will play a three-game series at Cincinnati before the Cubs come to Houston.

And if anyone has any photos of the rookie hazing of the Cubs, please post them or email them to me and I'll post them. I hear the costumes were quite creative.