Doug Glanville was talking before Game 3 about the "Red Ivy Cubs," the nickname he and Josh Paul invented for the first team in eons to play in October when the leaves on the Wrigley Field walls were turning colors.
"We're starting something new," Glanville said. "Maybe it can become a tradition."
More than five hours later, Glanville delivered a pinch RBI triple in the top of the 11th inning, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 win over Florida and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
In a wild game that saw both teams mound late-inning comebacks, the Marlins finally blinked, sending the Cubs into delirium. The game was reminiscent of Tuesday's 11-inning Game 1, with the Cubs coming through in the final inning this time, then almost watching the roof cave in during a bizarre bottom of the 11th.
"There were a lot of emotions in that game," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Matt Clement faces his former team on Saturday in Game 4, matching up against Florida rookie standout Dontrelle Willis, the former Cubs prospect.
After Kenny Lofton's opposite-field single with one out off Michael Tejera started the Cubs' 11th, McKeon brought in Braden Looper to face Glanville. Baker stuck with Glanville against the right-hander.
"I thought Dougie had a good chance of getting a hit," Baker said. "Our odds were good he wouldn't hit into a double play to end the inning."
Lofton took off for second on a 2-1 pitch, and Glanville lined it perfectly into the spot vacated by shortstop Mike Mordecai and into left field. What could have been a double-play ball scooted past a diving Jeff Conine in left and rolled all the way to the warning track, allowing Lofton to zoom around the bases as Glanville wound up with a triple.
"My goal was just to make contact, and if I could, get it into the gap, which is what happened," Glanville said. "I knew Lofton could do the rest."
Joe Borowski pitched 21/3 innings of relief for the win, his longest outing since going three innings on April 2, the second game of the season.
When Mike Remlinger came on in the bottom of the 11th for the Cubs, the craziness was only beginning.
Remlinger struck out Luis Castillo for an apparent second out, but the pitch eluded catcher Paul Bako and went to the backstop. With two outs and Castillo on second, Derrek Lee hit a grounder to third that Aramis Ramirez bobbled for an apparent error.
But Ramirez was fortunate enough to see Castillo headed toward him and caught him in a rundown. Castillo was eventually called out for running out of the baseline, putting the Marlins in a 2-1 series hole.
"I thought this was a seven-game series," McKeon said. "Reading all the articles you guys write, I didn't know whether we should show up."
Kerry Wood and Florida left-hander Mark Redman staged an engaging duel for seven innings before 65,115 at Pro Player Stadium.
But neither was around at the end, leaving their bullpens to decide it.
The Cubs led 2-1 in the seventh when the Marlins scored two off Wood, taking a 3-2 lead on Ivan Rodriguez's line single to right.
But pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin tripled off the right-center wall with one out in the eighth, giving Randall Simon the chance to play the role of hero.
Marlins reliever Chad Fox, who had wiggled out of a seventh-inning jam by striking out Eric Karros with the bases loaded, threw his first pitch to Simon right down the middle and Simon planted it in the right-field stands.
Simon's two-run homer gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead, but that didn't last long. Todd Hollandsworth tied it in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single off Borowski.
The Marlins loaded the bases against Borowski with two outs in the ninth, but the Cubs' closer retired Mordecai on a flyout, sending the game into extra innings.
Wood walked a tightrope for much of game, knowing he had to be almost perfect on a night when the offense was operating on low volume. After the teams combined for 13 home runs in the first two games, both starting pitchers took charge in Game 3, which featured only two extra-base hits until the Cubs' eighth.
But now that the Cubs have won Game 3 in whirlwind fashion, they hope to put the pedal down on Saturday.
"It's a great thing for momentum," Glanville said. "Now we know at the worst we'll take the series back to Chicago."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times