The Cubs seemed to have a knack for these in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s — bad teams that somehow put together thrilling walkoff wins.
Alex Gonzalez, who had some pretty good years for the Cubs in 2002 and 2003, had a knack for walkoff home runs, at least while he was a Cub. In a little over one calendar year — from May 6, 2003 to May 10, 2004 — he hit five of them. You can read about all of those homers here, but this article is about another big walkoff hit A-Gon had.
The Cubs had not had a winning month in 2002 entering August, and they began the month 44-61, 15½ games out of first place. Thursday, August 1 was the last of a three-game set against the Padres at Wrigley and the Cubs had lost the first two.
It looked like they’d win the third game of the series comfortably. They led 3-2 going into the top of the eighth, but the Padres put up five runs off Kyle Farnsworth and Tom Gordon to take a 7-3 lead.
But the Cubs came back with three of their own in the bottom of the inning — a three-run homer by Mark Bellhorn, who had a fantastic 2002 season. Still, they trailed 7-6 going into the bottom of the ninth, with future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman on the mound to close things out for San Diego.
Sammy Sosa led off the inning with a single, but was forced by Roosevelt Brown. Another single by Fred McGriff put runners on first and second, but Corey Patterson hit a line drive to third.
Gonzalez smashed a double to deep right-center and Brown and Delino DeShields (who had run for McGriff) scored to give the Cubs an 8-7 win. It was one of only three blown saves (in 41 opportunities) for Hoffman in 2002.
The win didn’t help that year’s Cubs; they went 11-18 the rest of August and finished the year with 95 losses, the third year in four in which they’d lost at least 95 games. Despite that, of the 67 Cubs wins that year, nine were walkoffs.