It was getting late, and besides, Aramis Ramirez was becoming concerned about that big zero by his name.
"I told (manager Lou Piniella) I was worried — I've never been 0-for-6 before," Ramirez said. "I had to do something. I was thinking about bunting."
Luckily for the Cubs, Ramirez was only kidding. He ended a very long afternoon 1-for-6 but with a home run that gave the Cubs a 7-5 victory in 11 innings over the Cardinals on Saturday.
As thanks for the victory, and for finishing a 3-hour-50-minute marathon, Ramirez's teammates mobbed him at home plate and pounded his helmet.
"It's fun. You don't mind being pounded," he said. "We just beat a first-place team, and we're tied for first."
Indeed they are, tied with the Cardinals after a pair of victories coming from Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano in last-at-bat home runs.
When it comes to pure entertainment, it's hard to top the 91/2 hours the Cubs and Cardinals have provided the last three days at Wrigley Field. And there is a still the nationally televised Sunday night game to go.
Well, maybe "pure" isn't exactly the way to describe what has happened here. "Exciting" might be better.
Fans have been treated to 1,037 pitches from 30 pitchers. They have watched 56 hits, including 10 home runs, and 31 walks produce 38 runs. And they have watched 44 batters strike out.
Saturday ended with the sixth Cardinal pitcher, Dennys Reyes, taking the loss and the sixth Cubs pitcher, Angel Guzman, getting the victory, his first in the majors in his 40th appearance.
"I was looking for a bottle of champagne," Piniella said.
Guzman pitched a scoreless 11th. In fact, the bullpen threw five innings in relief of Ryan Dempster and allowed one run. That came off Carlos Marmol, who allowed back-to-back doubles to start his second inning of work.
Marmol, who saved Friday's game, didn't make it through that eighth inning. Closer Kevin Gregg had to work through that inning and one more, retiring six straight batters. Aaron Heilman also threw a scoreless inning before Guzman.
"I had to use my bullpen in an unconventional way," Piniella said. "I don't want to do that too often."
In the 11th, Soriano led off with a walk, but Kosuke Fukudome forced him at second on a failed sacrifice. After Lee flied out, Ramirez came to bat.
"History tells you he'll get the job done," said Ryan Theriot, who had three hits.
History also says the Cubs and Cardinals have a way of putting on shows, even when they aren't battling for first.
"Wins now count the same as in September," Ramirez said. "So you might as well go ahead and get them now."