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.
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: Reed Johnson, who replaced center fielder Marlon Byrd in the starting lineup, went 3-for-4 with a double.
Hero: Matt Garza - who did not figure in the decision - allowed six hits, struck out nine, and walked three over six shutout innings. Garza walked the first two men he faced in the sixth but escaped a bases-loaded-jam when Brad Hawpe rolled into an inning-ending double play.
"If I don't win a game all year but we win my games, it doesn't bother me one bit," Garza said.
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: Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a double off the right-field scoreboard to raise his average to .360. Ramirez was hitting .143 entering play on April 16, 2010.
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.
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: Starlin Castro produced three more hits, including a pair of triples, and is hitting .615.
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: 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.
Hero: Tom Gorzelanny finished his season by allowing just three hits over six innings while walking four and striking out three.
Hero: Rookie lefty Scott Maine continued the stellar work of the Cubs' bullpen by setting the Padres down in order in the eighth to lower his ERA in 12 appearances to 2.13. Relievers have posted a 1.38 ERA in 58 2/3 innings of work over the Cubs' last 21 games.
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.