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Cubs Slow Cardinals' Playoff Run In Rain, Win 5-4 In 11

John Gress - Getty Images

Well, that was... unexpected.

Wet, and unexpected, and dramatic, and... well, we just haven't had much of that this year (except the wet, of course), so celebrate the Cubs' 5-4, come-from-behind win over the Cardinals. It was just the fourth walkoff win for the Cubs this year and "raised" the team's record in one-run games to 14-26, which is still really bad.

One thing was accomplished with this win: It's the 59th win this year. Thus, the Cubs can no longer break the team record for losses; if they lost all 11 remaining games, they'd do no worse than tie it. And I do think they'll win a couple of games, maybe at Colorado, likely against the Astros to wrap up the year.

Where do I even start? How about at the end? In the 11th inning, as it was starting to rain for the second time of the day (after about three dry innings following some pretty heavy downpours -- it was clear they were going to play no matter what), Welington Castillo led off with a single and was replaced on the bases by Brett Jackson. Dave Sappelt sacrificed Jackson to second. Pinch-hitter Steve Clevenger sent a medium-deep fly ball to right field; that's not a no-brainer advance, but Jackson slid safely into third, where he scored the game-winner on David DeJesus' single, DeJesus' fourth hit of the game. That wouldn't have necessarily been an easy run to score, either, had Jackson not advanced; Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran charged the ball and might have thrown Jackson out in that case.

All of that was made possible by Darwin Barney's two-run, two-out, two-strike home run off Fernando Salas. How unlikely was that? Well, maybe not so much. Barney has one walkoff home run this season, May 30 against the Padres, and seems to be picking up the knack of getting hits in key situations. He's absolutely a guy who could be a part of a future Cubs playoff contender, if surrounded by better players in the lineup. The Cubs had gone down meekly much of the game, and Chris Volstad had another Chris Volstadish start. That is to say, it wasn't awful, but it wasn't good, either. Six hits, two walks and no strikeouts in five innings of work in which he threw a horrendously high total of 116 pitches. Put another way, that's 23 pitches per inning... every inning he threw. Put still another way, just three other Cubs pitchers (Jeff Samardzija on September 8, Matt Garza on April 12 and Ryan Dempster on June 10) have thrown more pitches than that in a game this year, and all three of those outings were at least eight innings.

But the Cubs trailed just 3-2 after Volstad's departure, thanks to a two-run third highlighted by a DeJesus triple and an RBI double by Alfonso Soriano; that gave Soriano 104 RBI for the year, tying his career high and putting him just one behind Chase Headley and Ryan Braun (entering Friday night's action) for the league lead. I'd love to see Soriano lead the league in RBI; given the trouble this team has had scoring runs all year, that would be an impressive feat.

And the bullpen did a (mostly) fine job; six Cubs relievers combined to throw six innings, allowing just two hits, three walks and striking out seven. James Russell was touched for a single run in the eighth; at the time, it appeared that put the game away for the Cardinals, but Barney's heroics were yet to come.

For the Cardinals, it cut their lead over the Brewers for the second wild card to just two games (pending Friday night's action); it also means that if the Reds win their game over the Dodgers Friday night, Cincinnati becomes the first team to clinch a division title in 2012.

Wet. Weird. Wacky. And a win. Those have been rare enough this season. So enjoy while we can, with just 11 games remaining.