Hero: Reed Johnson, who got a rare start in right field, went 3-for-5 with a triple, drove in four, and made a spectacular catch in the second inning, slamming into the right-field wall to rob former Cub Mike Fontenot of extra bases.
I wish Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley would stick to telling White Sox general manager Ken Williams how to do his job.
In Thursday's Sun-Times, Cowley, a former longtime White Sox beat writer, advised Cubs fans to not get their hopes up in regards to the North Siders signing St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. He suggested that any Cubs fan who dares dream of Pujols donning a Cubs uniform in 2012 should "pick up the nearest stapler and punch it into your chest to help snap you back to reality."
Hero: Darwin Barney went 3-for-4 (all singles), was hit by a pitch, and scored twice.
Hero: Ryan Dempster (1-4) had his second straight solid start, allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits while striking out four and walking none.
"I'm doing a better job of executing pitches," Dempster said. "I was able to keep the ball down, for the most part, today."
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."
In my visits to Wrigley Field in recent years, I have enjoyed a wide variety of vantage points.
I had the pleasure of watching the great Greg Maddux pitch from a second-row club box seat. I've also sat in the field boxes, terrace boxes, terrace reserved seats, and upper deck boxes - behind home plate and down both lines. I've even watched a couple games from rooftops across the street. But I had not sat in the bleachers since 2004 - two years before the seating area was renovated and named the "Bud Light Bleachers."
Hero: Carlos Zambrano (4-1) won his 10th straight road start with eight terrific innings as the Cubs (14-16), sporting classy 1944 replica uniforms, took two of three in the series and four of seven on the road trip. Zambrano, whose first pitch was delivered with an old-fashioned windmill windup, allowed one (earned) run on five hits while striking out four and walking one.
"He was Big Z today, he wasn't Carlos," Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd said. "I saw 92, 94 (MPH) on the board today. He's a power pitcher, and that's what he has to do to win."
Did you catch Big Z dancing in the dugout as a recording of the Glenn Miller Orchestra's "In the Mood" blared over the Dodger Stadium public address system? It's welcome to see him enjoying the game again.
"He did what he did easily, to me, without a lot of pomp and circumstance," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He just went after hitters. When he's got some soft game to go with his moving fastball and can locate, he's really tough. He went right after guys and attacked them."
Zambrano's last road loss came last June 25 at Comiskey Park - his infamous meltdown game.
Hero: Finally, the Demp we know and love. Ryan Dempster, who turned 34 on Tuesday, walked the first two batters he faced on eight straight balls, but bounced back to work seven solid innings. Dempster- who lowered his ERA to 8.05 while not figuring in the decision- allowed one (earned) run on six hits while walking two and striking out five.
"To say this was the best outing of Ryan Dempster's season would be probably the understatement of the year," Len Kasper said during the WGN telecast."He was really good."
Hero: Kosuke Fukudome, who turns 34 Tuesday, had five singles in five at-bats to raise his average to .478.
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: Andrew Cashner was terrific in his first major league start before exiting after 5 1/3 innings with tightness in his pitching shoulder. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits, struck out two, and walked one. He went to a three-ball count on just two batters, and fired 43 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
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.
The acquisition of pitcher Matt Garza by the Cubs, along with two minor leaguers, from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for five prospects - that include right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, outfielders Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and catcher Robinson Chirinos - is a brilliant and gutsy move by general manager Jim Hendry.
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.
"When you play with the Cubs, it's like playing with heavy shoes on."