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 went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .417.
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.
(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.
For the first time in my life, I felt sorry for the New York Yankees when they fell to the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series.
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.
I don't regret Jim Hendry's July 31 deadline trade with the Dodgers, but it's worth noting that Ted Lilly has been nothing short of spectacular since joining his new team.
It's difficult to judge a trade like the one the Cubs made ahead of Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline.
Hero: James Russell allowed one hit struck out three, and walked none in two shutout innings of relief.
Hero: Ted Lilly, if he is traded later this week, had the best final two outings by a Cubs pitcher before being dealt since Steve Trout in 1987. But Lilly had nothing to show for his efforts.
Hero: Carlos Silva (10-4) rebounded after back-to-back horrible outings to reach double figures in wins for the first time since 2007 when he earned 13 victories for the Minnesota Twins. Silva allowed one (earned) run on five hits in five innings while walking one and striking out four.
Hero: Ted Lilly impressed the scouts who were there to see him but he ... couldn't ... quite ... finish the job. Lilly was working on a five-hit shutout when he allowed a leadoff homer to Pedro Feliz in the the eighth inning that tied the game at 1. Hindsight is 20-20, but Lou Piniella allowed Lilly to hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh with an off day Thursday. TRL exited with one out in the eighth after allowing seven hits, walking one, and striking out six.
Hero: Aramis Ramirez hasn't yet made us forget about his sorry first half, but by all means he can continue to try to make amends.
His takes on Uncle Lou, Big Z and Teddy Baseball this morning:
Hero: Aramis Ramirez went 2-for-5 with a pair of two-out, two-run doubles to raise his average to .211. Since July 5th, Ramirez is 14-for-33 (.424) with four home runs and 13 RBI.
As a kid, whenever I had a bad day, my father would remind me that "the sun will come up tomorrow."
"It's been a good week in my book. It really has," writes Cub Factor correspondent Marty Gangler.
Hero: Marlon Byrd keeps on hitting. Byrd went 4-for-5 Friday with three RBI, and is now hitting .319. He is third in batting in the NL and leads the league in doubles with 27. The center fielder also made a diving catch of a Xavier Paul line drive in the fifth with his team trailing 8-3.