Heroes: Carlos Pena (home run) Kosuke Fukudome (double) each contributed three hits and bookended a dramatic two-run ninth inning rally off Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero (2-1) to lead the Cubs (15-17), as Pat Hughes described it, "to their most gratifying victory of the season."
Hero: Marcos Mateo, rebounding from a rough outing on Tuesday, retired all three batters he faced after entering in the top of the ninth with Arizona runners on the corners and no outs. Mateo's effort kept the Cubs within striking distance.
Hero: Blake DeWitt put a miserable spring training behind him by delivering a tie-breaking, two-run double to cap a five-run Cubs eighth.
I remember fondly throughout my childhood the February day in which my father would bring home a stack of baseball preview magazines.
I would devour those things and have continued the practice into adulthood. All of that reading material has helped me get through those final few weeks without baseball, but I learned long ago that such publications should not be believed as gospel.
When spring training opened last month, Cubs manager Mike Quade let it be known that there would be open competition for a large percentage of the spots on his team's Opening Day roster.
Consider me among those who has been underwhelmed by the Cubs' offseason activity up to this point, but it seems that every piece of less-than-exciting news has been surrounded by a silver lining.
The improved play the Cubs demonstrated under interim manager Mike Quade during the season's final weeks (a 24-13 record) was encouraging but it doesn't change the fact that the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano hit his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season to raise his batting average to .257 and his slugging percentage to .501.
Hero: Carlos Zambrano (10-6) earned his seventh road win of the season after allowing just three hits in seven innings while striking out five and walking four. Zambrano, who is 7-2 in 12 career starts against San Diego, is 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 10 starts since rejoining the starting rotation on Aug. 9. Big Z, who will make his final start of the season this weekend at Houston, has pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
Heroes: Relievers Justin Berg, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Andrew Cashner, James Russell, and Thomas Diamond combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Hero: Carlos Zambrano labored through six shutout innings, throwing 116 pitches. Zambrano - who is 6-0 with a 1.42 ERA in nine starts since rejoining the starting rotation on Aug. 9 - allowed three hits, struck out eight, and walked five.
Heroes: Jeff Baker (4-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI) and Welington Castillo (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) led the Cubs' 10-hit attack. It was the first major league home run for Castillo, a 23-year-old rookie catcher.
Hero: Blake DeWitt (2-for-4) hit a two-out, three-run homer into the right-field bleachers off New York starter R.A. Dickey (9-6) to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead in the sixth inning.
Hero: Ryan Dempster (12-8), now 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his five August starts, allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out eight over seven shutout innings.
Hero: Casey Coleman (1-1) allowed one (earned) run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings while striking out three and walking two en route to his first major league victory. Coleman took a one-hit shutout into the seventh. He also contributed an RBI single.
Hero: Randy Wells (5-11) allowed just one run in the first inning and turned in seven innings of three-hit ball. The right-hander struck out six and walked three.
Hero: Randy Wells (5-10) was working on a three-hitter when he allowed a leadoff homer to Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs in the eighth inning. Stubbs had just two hits in his previous 39 at-bats. Wells allowed three runs - all earned - on five hits in seven-plus innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked two.
It's been a foregone conclusion that the Cubs' season will end in Houston on Oct. 3 for some time, but there are plenty of reasons to follow the Cubs for their final 53 games of this season and to be optimistic about the 2011 season.
Hero: Geovany Soto went 3-for-5, scored three times, and knocked in five. Soto hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off former Cubs right-hander LaTroy Hawkins.