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Cubs Deal Padres Devastating Setback To Playoff Hopes, 1-0; Marmol Posts 37th Save

I could get used to these 1-0 wins. Couldn't you?

First, before recapping the Cubs' 1-0 win over the Padres, their fifth 1-0 victory of the season and second this week, let me just say:

I really, REALLY, REALLY hate those 1984 Padres uniforms. And based on this tweet from Carrie earlier today, I was led to believe that the Padres "Throwback Thursday" would be from 1978, not 1984. I should have known better -- the Padres marketing department spares no opportunity to stick it to the Cubs, which in my opinion is truly classless. You don't see the Yankees or Red Sox do those kinds of things; the Cubs' biggest rival, the Cardinals have more respect for the Cubs than that. It's just really difficult to see a Padres team wearing those uniforms -- any Cubs fan who lived through that NLCS or, like me, was there and saw the way Padres fans treated us, would feel the same way. Served 'em right that they had to sit through a 22-minute rain delay, their second of this season.

That's why I take great satisfaction in the fact that a Cubs team far out of playoff contention rose to the occasion and has virtually delivered the death blow to a San Diego club that was in first place for almost five months. The Padres now must sweep the Giants to tie for the NL West lead. Or, they could win two of three while the Braves are getting swept by the Phillies -- but don't count on that, because Atlanta has the best home record in the National League.

Enjoy your winter at home, Padres players and fans. The Cubs have almost singlehandedly handed the NL West to the Giants, by losing two of three to them at home and beating their rival three of four.

The Cubs put together another fine pitching performance by four pitchers Thursday night; Tom Gorzelanny got himself in some trouble with walks, but got out of it. All the Padres got tonight, apart from a handful of walks from Gorz, was three singles. Andrew Cashner was throwing 98+ and continuing his much better pitching since Mike Quade became manager. Sean Marshall did his job effectively, and Carlos Marmol was outstanding in closing off the Padres for his 37th save -- 13 of those saves coming in September. That ties him with Bruce Sutter (1979) for fourth place on the all-time Cub single season list; next up is Randy Myers (38 in 1995).

That could happen this weekend, and if the Cubs can sweep the Astros they'd pass them into fourth place. The Brewers have defeated the Mets to win their 76th game so the best the Cubs could do is tie them. I'd very much like to see the Cubs do that, and perhaps the Rockies could help out over the weekend in defeating the Cardinals so the Cubs can finish within only a few games of them as well. There are no dominant teams in the NL Central -- not even the champion Reds -- and I do not think the Cubs are as far away from contention as some of you do.

Props to Brad Snyder for his ninth-inning RBI single, the first game-winning RBI of his career, after Aramis Ramirez blooped a single to lead off the inning. Darwin Barney pinch-ran and advanced to second on Xavier Nady's first sacrifice bunt since 2006 (and only the seventh of his major league career), then scored on Snyder's hit. It was the 61st 1-0 game in the major leagues this season, most since 1976, and eighth for the Cubs this year (5 wins, 3 losses).

Which is yet another reason to build a strong pitching staff for 2011. Baseball seems to be swinging a pendulum toward lower-scoring games and better pitching; Cub starters did their part this year (tonight's quality start was the Cubs' 93rd, tied with the Astros for third in the NL behind the Phillies and Giants). Form a more solid bullpen and you have a team that could surprise next year.