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: Starlin Castro (3-for-4) contributed a two-run double in the fourth inning. Castro, who had his sixth three-hit game of the season, was 7-for-13 in the series with four RBI and is now hitting .418.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth home run of the season - a three-run shot during the Cubs' five-run first inning - and, with help from a Starlin Castro relay throw, gunned down Houston's Brett Wallace at the plate when Wallace tried to score from first on a Matt Downs double in the second inning.
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.
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.
Heroes: Thomas Diamond, Marcos Mateo, and Sean Marshall combined for two scoreless and hitless innings as Cubs relievers closed the season with 28 straight shutout innings. The bullpen posted a 1.19 ERA in its final 25 games.
Hero: Carlos Zambrano (11-6) allowed three runs - two earned - on three hits over 6 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three. Zambrano won his final eight decisions and posted a 1.24 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Ryan Dempster's endorsement Tuesday of Mike Quade for the Cubs managerial job in 2011 is the final event in a long series of developments that has convinced me that Quade is the right man for the job.
Heroes: Relievers Justin Berg, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Andrew Cashner, James Russell, and Thomas Diamond combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Heroes: Relievers Justin Berg, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, and James Russell combined to allow two hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings.
Hero: Tyler Colvin became the fourth Cubs rookie to hit 20 or more home runs in a season. The other members of the exclusive club are Walt "Moose" Moryn with 23 in 1956, Billy Williams (25, 1961), and Geovany Soto (23, 2008).
Much of the debate regarding how the Cubs should go about building a winner has centered on whether the team should "play the kids" or pursue a quicker fix.
Heroes: Relievers Marcos Mateo, Sean Marshall, and Justin Berg set down the final nine Houston hitters.
Hero: Rookie reliever Marcos Mateo had his best of his eight major league outings, striking out all three hitters he faced, in the bottom of the eighth.
Hero: Derrek Lee hit two solo home runs to straightaway center before being removed because of back spasms. He's walloped four of his 16 home runs on the season in the last three games.