Dick Pole began his day finding out he'd be managing the Cubs Wednesday night against Arizona, thanks to a one-game suspension dealt to Dusty Baker.
Pole ended the night watching the Cubs pull out a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Alex Gonzalez's go-ahead solo home run off Matt Mantei in the ninth.
"I haven't had a heartbeat like that in a while," Pole said.
Steve Finley's third solo home run, off LaTroy Hawkins, tied the game in the eighth, spoiling Greg Maddux's chance at earning his 291st career victory. But Gonzalez got Hawkins off the hook with his sixth game-winning home run in the Cubs' last at-bat.
"Alex clutched up for us," Maddux said.
Joe Borowski picked up his fifth save, retiring Luis Gonzalez on a warning-track fly ball with a runner on first to end it.
The Cubs avoided their first three-game sweep since Cincinnati took a series on Sept. 24-26, 2002, and moved into sole possession of first with a 13-8 record. After an off day on Thursday, they begin a four-game series in St. Louis, facing their heated rivals for the first time this season.
Baker declined to insert himself into the game by sending strategic moves to Pole through a third party while watching the game from his clubhouse office.
"I went in and asked him before the game if he wanted anything in particular," Pole said. "He said, `No, just go ahead and go with it.' I've been in the dugout for a few years, so . . . I pay attention to where the pitcher is and double switches and things like that. It worked out well. `Gonzo' followed orders real well."
Baker said he had a difficult time watching the game on the TV, with former Cub Mark Grace as color analyst on the Diamondbacks' broadcast.
"He did pretty good," Baker said. "I'd rather listen to our guys, but I couldn't find the [Chicago satellite feed]."
Todd Walker's double and Sammy Sosa's sacrifice handed the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the third, and Maddux began to get in a groove, retiring the side on only four pitches in the fifth inning. Finley's second solo shot in the sixth pulled Arizona to within a run, before Maddux turned it over to his bullpen.
"Mentally I was done," Maddux said. "Physically I felt good."
The D'backs may have suffered an even bigger loss when slugger Richie Sexson had to be removed from the game in the eighth after injuring himself while trying to check his swing against Hawkins.
Arizona manager Bob Brenly said Sexson, who played every inning of every game for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, is probably headed for the 15-day disabled list with a strained shoulder.
Though Hawkins retired Sexson's pinch-hitter, Carlos Baerga, Finley followed with the game-tying home run on the first pitch he saw, the fourth three-homer game of his career.
After seven straight scoreless outings in his first seven appearances, Hawkins has now served up home runs in his last two games.
Following the game, Baker congratulated Pole on keeping the Cubs from getting swept.
"How'd you do in the postgame interview?" Baker asked Pole.
"Not too tough," Pole replied.
"It's a lot easier then when [the Cubs lost] 9-0 or 10-1," Baker said, referring to the scores of the first two games in Arizona.
Baker returns to the dugout on Thursday in St. Louis.
Pole returns to his old role as bench coach, knowing he'll always have Phoenix.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times