Hero: Darwin Barney went 3-for-4 (all singles), was hit by a pitch, and scored twice.
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: Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4) wrapped up a terrific April with a solo home run in the second inning and an RBI single in the fourth. It was the 10th homer of the season for Soriano (.258 BA, 20 RBI), who shares the major league lead in home runs with Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano smashed two solo home runs. It was the 27th career multi-home run game for Soriano, who leads the Cubs (11-14) with nine long balls.
Hero: Reed Johnson, who replaced center fielder Marlon Byrd in the starting lineup, went 3-for-4 with a double.
Hero: Carlos Zambrano remained undefeated since his meltdown at Comiskey Park on June 25 with eight innings of three-hit ball. Zambrano struck out 10 - the first time he achieved double-digits in strikeouts since his no-hitter on Sept. 14, 2008 - and walked just one.
For whatever it's worth, it was the Cubs' first "quality start" since Randy Wells turned one in against Arizona on April 4. The "quality start" statistic is as nonsensical as the "game-winning RBI." A pitcher who lasts just six innings and allows three runs is credited with a "quality start." The benchmark for what is deemed "quality" should be a bit higher.
Hero: Man, does this guy rake lefties! Jeff Baker went 4-for-5, including a go-ahead, three-run homer off Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf (0-2) in the fourth inning. Baker is 6-for-11 against southpaws this season.
Baker also contributed a two-out RBI single in the sixth and scored in the ninth on a Marlon Byrd double after reaching on a leadoff single.
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.
(Editor's Note: Fourteenth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)
It seems so long ago, but it's only been a little over two years since the Cubs, with the best record in the National League, clinched their second straight Central Division title with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 20, 2008. My confidence in the Cubs was never - before or since - as high as it was in '08. And the highlight of that magical regular season came on Sept. 14 when Carlos Zambrano pitched the first Cubs no-hitter in over 36 years.
(Editor's Note: Tenth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)
On Sept. 18, 2008, the Cubs' magic number for clinching the NL Central appeared like it was going to be stuck at four. The North Siders trailed the second-place Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and nobody on base.
(Editor's Note: Ninth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)
The Cubs were riding high when they played host to the Colorado Rockies on May 30, 2008. They had won their previous four games to improve to 33-21 and held a 1.5-game lead over second-place St. Louis in the National League Central.
My grandfather turned 90 earlier this year.
Pops is no saint, but I have always been struck by his ability to make friends. It's a testament to his talent for relating to others that a week does not go by when somebody in our neighborhood asks me how he's doing or tells me a story about a good time they had with him.
But the fact that he has been a Cubs fan since at least the 1930s has to be penance for something. The man has been subjected to more bad baseball in his lifetime than anybody else I know and has not even enjoyed the experience of watching his favorite team play in the World Series since 1938. He was serving in the Pacific while the Cubs participated in the 1945 Fall Classic.
"Wait 'til next year!" my late grandmother would mutter whenever she'd hear a Cubs fan speak those words. "It's always wait 'til next year with those Cubs!"
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.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry made the right call Tuesday in announcing that Mike Quade would manage the team in 2011.
Tyler Colvin was released Wednesday from a Miami hospital and, according to Len Kasper during Wednesday's Cubs-Giants telecast, was driving from South Florida with his grandfather to his home in South Carolina where he will recuperate.
It seems so long ago, but it's only been two years since the Cubs, with the best record in the National League, clinched their second straight Central Division title with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. My confidence in the Cubs was never - before or since - as high as it was in 2008. And the highlight of that magical regular season came on Sept. 14 when Carlos Zambrano pitched the first Cubs no-hitter in over 36 years.
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.