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Cubs get 10,000th win, need 10 innings vs. Rockies
Most of the first 9,999 victories in Cubs history were fairly easy compared to Wednesday night's 10,000th at Coors Field.
In fitting fashion for a team with as much wacky history as the Cubs, they mounted a ninth-inning comeback against Colorado on Aramis Ramirez's home run, watched Kerry Wood blow the lead in the bottom of the inning and rallied again for a 7-6, 10-inning victory before a stunned crowd of 36,864.
In the end, Ryan Theriot's two-out RBI single off Kip Wells in the 10th gave the Cubs the lead for keeps, and they hung on after Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect 10th for the save.
"That was an exciting game, well-played on both sides," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Our kids battled. They came back in the ninth on the two-run homer, and then Theriot gets that big base hit there in the 10th. These kids are confident, I can tell you that, and they're getting after it every night."
With six straight victories and nine in their last 10 games, the Cubs are one of only four teams in franchise history to start off with a 15-6 record. The other three were the 1907 World Series champions, the 1969 team that collapsed down the stretch and the 1975 team that finished 12 games below .500.
"It's a lot of history here with the Cubs," Piniella said. "What, the second franchise in baseball (after the Giants) to win 10,000? Congratulations to this organization."
Starting pitcher Rich Hill didn't get the victory and didn't seem too psyched up about the milestone.
"It's something that's pretty neat, I guess," Hill said. "I don't know."
"It was a tough first 10,000 wins," Theriot said with a chuckle. "I hope the next 10,000 are easier."
"Really, I didn't remember a lot about the first 9,000," said Wood, who got what Theriot termed "a cool benchmark" win.
Ramirez's two-run home run off Rockies closer Manny Corpas erased a one-run deficit in the ninth. It was just another long and crazy night on the road for the Cubs, who have gone into extra innings in four of their seven road games, winning all four.
The Rockies' bullpen had blown three consecutive games going into Wednesday, turning a team strength into a weakness almost overnight. So when Corpas entered with a one-run lead in the ninth inning, you could almost hear the Cubs' players licking their lips in anticipation.
Sure enough, Corpas, who allowed three ninth-inning runs Tuesday night in a loss to Philadelphia, blew it again. After giving up a one-out single to Derrek Lee, who was replaced by pinch-runner Felix Pie, Corpas served up the two-run homer to Ramirez that gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead.
"It's obviously tough any time you lose leads late," Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki said. "It makes it extra tough. I remember we went through a stretch last year where we did the same kind of thing and ended up all right. At least we know we can still be OK."
Wood came on in the ninth and struck out Tulowitzki and Yorvit Torrealba to start things off. But ex- White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik singled and Spilborghs promptly tripled to right-center to score Podsednik with the tying run.
Hill, who will be skipped in his next start so the Cubs can throw their three right-handers against Milwaukee, threw five shutout innings before Clint Barmes led off the sixth with a leadoff homer, igniting a five-run rally.
Piniella pulled Hill after 84 pitches, just as he had last week in Hill's five-inning outing against Pittsburgh, when he threw 82 pitches.
"His pitch count wasn't high, he could have gone further," Piniella said. "We wanted to leave him with a nice, positive effort. We're in the process of building him up the way we should, and we just didn't hold onto the lead."