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Bellhorn heroics overshadow bullpen woes
Long before Thursday's first pitch, one irate fan at Miller Park screamed to the players: "You should honor your contract to the end of the season."
When the final out was recorded in the Cubs' 13-10 victory over the Brewers, it was hard to envision anyone wanting to see more baseball.
After this three-hour-40-minute marathon, the players might have been wondering if a new labor agreement owners and players were attempting to hammer out before Friday's strike deadline would provide overtime pay.
The Cubs turned a laugher into a nail-biter when they gave up six runs in the ninth inning to the National League's worst team. But Mark Bellhorn's fourth-inning heroics gave the Cubs a cushion that even they couldn't blow.
Bellhorn became the first player in National League history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning. He joined Cleveland's Carlos Baerga as the only ones to accomplish it. Baerga did it against the Yankees on April 8, 1993.
"He really did have a sensational day," Cubs manager Bruce Kimm said.
Bellhorn was scheduled for a day off until Sammy Sosa was scratched from the lineup with what's now being diagnosed as a strained muscle in his back that could sideline him another few days. That prompted Kimm to move Angel Echevarria from first base to right field, clearing a spot for Bellhorn.
The low-key Bellhorn didn't know he had entered the record books until after the game. He didn't try to retrieve the home run balls.
"But if somebody wants to give them to me, I'll keep them," he said. "If not, oh well."
Bellhorn's five RBIs in one inning tied Billy Williams' team record, set in 1964. And the Cubs' 10-run fourth marked their biggest outburst since 1990, when they scored 10 in an inning against the Expos.
Bellhorn echoed the sentiments of his teammates, all of whom said Thursday did not feel like the season's final game.
"It's not cold enough," catcher Joe Girardi said.
As the team's player representative, Girardi has the responsibility of informing his teammates Friday morning whether they should report to the ballpark for the scheduled 2:20 p.m. game against St. Louis.
"I told them to turn on CNN, but some guys don't get up and watch TV," he said. "I'll make contact with everyone."
So the players will wait by the telephone.
If this was the season finale, the Cubs' 56-76 record has to rank as one of their most disappointing in recent memory. Kimm went 22-26 after taking over for Don Baylor on July 6.
"I'm not treating this as the end of the season," Kimm said.
And he managed that way. With doubleheaders slated for Saturday and Monday, Kimm rested Fred McGriff and tried to close out the game with rookie Francis Beltran.
Beltran walked three consecutive batters before giving up a single. Kyle Farnsworth then gave up a one-out grand slam to Richie Sexson, cutting the Cubs' lead to 13-9.
Farnsworth finally put the game out of its misery four batters later.
It was a sloppy affair that featured three errors, 11 walks and plenty of ugly pitching lines. Plus there was the premature departure of Brewers reliever Valerio De Los Santos, who left the game because of "flulike symptoms."
On the other end of the spectrum was Matt Clement, who earned his 11th victory. He struck out 10, reaching double digits for the sixth time.
Clement hopes to have the chance to do it a seventh time. But has hasn't let the labor talks bog him down.
"We'll worry about [Friday] when it gets here," he said.