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Baker: 'Wildest game I've ever seen'
Carlos Zambrano was asked before Tuesday's game why he didn't want to shut down for the rest of the year.
"First of all, I don't want this team to get 100 losses," Zambrano replied. "It's embarrassing."
The Cubs proceeded to commit six errors for the first time in 24 years, rebounded from a seven-run deficit and self-destructed in the ninth before posting a 9-8, 11-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on a bizarre night at Wrigley Field.
"That was the wildest game I've ever seen," manager Dusty Baker said.
Former Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis, who made a critical error in the ninth, came up with the game-winning single off Tim Hamulack in the 11th, sending home pinch-runner Juan Mateo from second.
Mateo looked like he was running in slow motion and scored standing up, barely beating the throw home. Baker had asked around the bench to see if any remaining pitcher could run faster than catcher Geovany Soto. After being rebuffed by Rich Hill, who said Soto was faster than him, Mateo finally answered the call.
"It wasn't pretty," Baker said of Mateo's romp. "But we won."
The Cubs have won back-to back games for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Aug. 13-16. They trailed 7-0 after three innings thanks in part to four unearned runs off Sean Marshall, as second baseman Freddie Bynum committed three errors in the first two innings and right fielder Jacque Jones muffed a routine fly in the third. The last time the Cubs committed six errors was against Philadelphia on June 14, 1982, at Wrigley.
The Cubs rallied for five runs off Derek Lowe in the fifth and tied the game 7-7 on Aramis Ramirez's pinch single off Jonathan Broxton in the seventh. After J.D. Drew's three-base error left Ryan Theriot on third base leading off the eighth, Derrek Lee delivered a sacrifice fly that handed the Cubs their first lead.
Ryan Dempster was called upon to try to convert his first save in almost a month, but rare errors by Izturis and Lee, both former Gold Glove winners, put runners on the corners with one out. Catcher Russell Martin followed with a potential double-play grounder to Izturis, but Lee couldn't snatch Theriot's relay throw in the dirt, allowing the tying run to score.
Dempster has blown three straight saves, but Baker said this one wasn't his fault.
"He didn't get any breaks," he said.
Bynum was the main culprit early on. He blew a potential double-play grounder when he couldn't get the ball out of his glove, made a wild throw to first and dropped a popup in the rain that was Ronny Cedeno's ball. Bynum became the first Cub with a three-error game since Shawon Dunston did it against San Francisco on May 9, 1997.
Marshall couldn't recover and was removed after 32/3 innings, trailing 7-0. Cubs starters have failed to last five innings in seven of their last 10 starts.
When the game went into extra innings, it looked as though neither team would score. But Hamulack walked two in the 11th, setting up Izturis' heroics.
"It's nice to be part of win like that," Izturis said.
The loss kept the Dodgers from gaining on San Diego in the NL West race as Los Angeles remained a game and a half in front.