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The only way the Cubs could top yesterday's 12th-inning thriller is if Carlos Zambrano goes Johnny Vander Meer on us and tosses his second straight no-hitter, in which case he'll have to legally change his name to Carlos Zamber Meer.

Since that day, June 15, 1938, there have been 154 no-hitters tossed and not one of those guys did it again the next time out. Also, you'd probably have to walk Albert Pujols four times to get it done, so don't bet on it.

Adam (great name) Wainwright (9-3, 3.20) goes for the Birds 9-3, 3.20 and like all his starters, Tony La Russa hits him eighth. In fact, the Cardinals have two Adams in the lineup today with Adam Kennedy in right. This doesn't happen often.

The Cubs will counter with nine guys named Alfonso, Ryan, Derrek, Aramis, Jim, Mark, Mike, Henry and the aforementioned Carlos. Not-a-one Adam, which is fine, if you're into that sort of thing. It's all right here in the lineups.

Fittingly it's Jorts Weather as the Cardinals and their adoring Ozark Army invade.

Baseball soon. There's only one way to rock.

Actually baseball news update: Geovany Soto was a late scratch with a sore left hand. Len Kasper says it's minor joint irritation. Maybe he hurt it receiving all those high-fives after his game-tying, three-run homer in the ninth inning yesterday.

First inning

Right. So much for all that. Skip Schumaker doubles to left field on the second pitch. Do I have to change that Johhny Vander Meer photo now? Johnny Vander Meer is safe. Ryan Ludwick bloops a single to shallow right beyond a diving Mike Fontenot. There goes the one-hitter. First and third for Pujols and this never is good. Sometimes I have to leave the room when Pujols bats. Zambrano gets ahead 1-2 before Pujols rips an RBI single to left. There goes the shutout. First and second still no one out for Felipe Lopez. Zambrano falls behind 3-0 before firing a strike right over the plate. Walk. Bases loaded. Here comes Larry Rothschild. Still no outs, people. Zambrano's stalking around, slapping his glove and gets an earful from Rothschild. Troy Glaus flies out to shallow center and Ludwick holds at third. Jerky Cubs fans give Zambrano a sarcastic standing O for getting one out. Wow, how quickly they forget. Adam Kennedy drives one deep the other way for a grand slam. Aaron Miles grounds out for the second out. Wainwright , who's a pretty good hitter for a pitcher, takes a called third on the outside corner. The Gatorade dugout coolers better hide because here comes Carlos and he's not happy.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

Soriano lines a single to left. Here's your half-inning late wind update: It's blowing from the SSW at 7 mph. Translation: It's blowing out on this beautiful, 75-degree International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So everyone do their best to sound like Nate McLouth. Theriot flies out to center. Derrek Lee, yesterday's Hero 1B, looks at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt to work it full. Soriano takes off but it's ball four, which puts two on for Aramis Ramirez. Wainright jams Ramirez, who pops out. They finally showed Zambrano in the dugout after the top of the first. He gently tossed his glove and hat on the ledge, but then grabbed a batting helmet and slammed it to the ground. He then turned around and screamed at home-plate umpire Greg Gibson before disappearing down the tunnel to, I'm sure, spaz out on some piece of equipment. Edmonds grounds out to the right side and so much for those two runners.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

Second inning

Jason LaRue hits the first pitch of the second to the left-field gap. The ball disappears in the ivy, Edmonds throws up his hands, but LaRaue keeps jogging around the bases. It's a ground-rule double and he'll have to return to second. Can't blame Gibson for that. Schumaker flies out to left. Zambrano walks Ludwick as Comcast shows a woman holding a sign that reads "Medicare chicks dig Lou." Pujols grounds to Theriot, who double clutches getting the ball out of his glove and barely gets Pujols at first. The other guys move up. Second and third for Lopez with two gone. Zambrano uncorks a wild pitch in the dirt that gets away from Blanco, allowing LaRue to score. ... Lopez knocks home Ludwick with a single to right. Zambrano's velocity is way down today, according to the TV guys and now you wonder if his shoulder's bothering him or he's just having an off day. Zambrano walks Glaus and he's done. Here's Piniella. Zambrano stalks back to the dugout, yanks his jersey out of his pants, rips off his hat off and screams at the sky. For a second there, I thought he might go "Slap Shot" on us and take a naked lap around the warning track. So to recap: In his next start after his no-hitter, Zambrano goes 1 2/3, gives up seven runs on six hits and three walks -- sor far. Sean Marshall enters for what could be some loooooong relief and inherits two runners. Kennedy bloops a single in front of Edmonds to knock home the eighth run. Kennedy has two hits and five RBIs already AND IT'S THE SECOND INNING. Marshall fans Miles.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

I know everyone on the board has taken the leap and assumes Zambrano is hurt. Maybe and how horrible of an all-time Cubbie Occurence or whatever the heck you want to call it would that be? Zambrano throws a no-hitter as the Cubs march to the playoffs but hurts himself in the process. Ugh. OK, I'll shut up. DeRosa grounds back to the pitcher. Fontenot fans. Blanco bounes out and so much for the second.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

Third inning

Wainwright leads off the third in a battle of two very tall guys. Both pitchers are 6-7. Wainwright wins that one by drawing a walk. Piniella looks, uh, not pleased. Jason LaRue takes a ball and Blanco trots out to talk to his pitcher. LaRue, sporting some of the worst facial hair in the history of sports, flies out to DeRosa in shallow right. Schumaker fans. Marshall walks Ludwick. Two on for Pujols. So now we have to listen to six innings of Len and Bob making excuses for Zambrano and Marshall? "If we only had yesterday's strikezone today." Ifs, buts, candies and nuts. Pujols flies out to Edmonds.

Marshall looks at a changeup for a called third strike. Soriano grounds to Miles, who sails the throw to first. Pujols had to leap out of his shoes just to catch that. Soriano reaches on the error. Theriot flies out to right. Lee draws a walk. With a 2-2 count, Ramirez fights off a few pitches. Ramirez flies out to right.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

Fourth inning

Angel Guzman replaces Marshall. Lopez flies out to Soriano. Glauss taps one back to Guzman for the second out. Kennedy lines a single to center for his third hit. At least no one was on base this time. Miles sends one deep to left-center. Edmonds makes a long run, but alligator arms it on the track. It goes off the tip of his glove and Kennedy scores. Wainwright grounds out.

Cardinals 9, Cubs 0

Edmonds takes a called third. DeRosa strikes out swinging and now all Fontenot needs to do is swing at strike three in the dirt to complete the hat trick. Fontenot rips a double to the right-field gap. Blanco pops out to his counterpart LaRue.

Cardinals 9, Cubs 0

Fifth inning

LaRue singles. When Jason LaRue goes 2-for-3, it's time to tip your cap and move on. Which Piniella has done. Lotta substitutions here. Almost the entire lineup. Let's see: Michah Hoffpauir in for Soriano; Ronny Cedeno in for Theriot; Daryle Ward in for Lee; Casey McGehee (Who? Wha-ha?) in for Ramirez; Pie in for Edmonds and Johnson in for DeRosa. I don't think the TV guys told us about this. Did they? They may have. Not sure. Schumaker grounds out. Ludwick makes it 11-0 with a two-run homer to right. Lopez flies out to Pie.

Cardinals 11, Cubs 0

Yes! Koyie Hill. He grabs a bat with his and will hit for Guzman. He takes a called third strike. Hoffpauir nearly takes off Wainwright's head with a line drive single up the middle. Brenly points out the Cubs have just Kosuke Fukudome and Soto left on the bench. What if Blanco gets hurt? I guess they'll have to throw Soto in there, injured hand and all. Maybe Piniella will go with Carlos Marmol, who's a converted catcher. Doubtful. Cedeno draws a walk. "Let's get 10 guys on base and have somebody hit a homer," Brenly cracks. Here's Ward with two guys -- not 10 -- on base. Ward lines one to right where Kennedy misplays it trying to make a diving catch. It rolls to the wall for and RBI double. The Cubs get on the board. Here comes the all-time comeback by the bench reminiscent of the Bobby Hansen game in the 1992 NBA Finals. My guy Casey McGehee knocks in Cedeno with a grounder to second. Pie hits with Ward on third and two outs. Pie flies out to center but the comeback is on! Where'd everyone go?

Cardinals 11, Cubs 2

Sixth inning

Hill stays on to to catch; Kevin Hart on to pitch. Apparently Mike Fontenot going to have to ride this one out as the remaining starter in the game. Fukudome can play second, can't he? Glauss grounds out to whomever's playing third this inning. And, hey, good point on the board: What happened to Sam Fuld? Adam Kennedy doubles off the left-field wall and now needs a triple for the cycle. Cesar Izturis, who came in at some point to play short, bats. Izturis flies out right to Pie. Brian Barden hits for Wainwright. Barden singles to center. Kennedy rounds third, Pie comes up throwing and nearly fires it to Tony La Russa in the Cardinals' dugout. Hill leaps and catches it, fires to second to get Barden but nearly throws it back to Pie in center. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Iowa Cubs. Hart walks LaRue. Schumaker grounds out to Fontenot. The Cardinals tack on another goal to regain that double-digit lead.

Cardinals 12, Cubs 2

Josh Kinney is your new pitcher, St. Louis. Johnson grounds out to third. Fontenot takes a called third strike. And Kevin Hart hits for himself and strikes out swinging for himself.

Cardinals 12, Cubs 2

Seventh inning

Brian Barton, who stole R.W. McQuarters' hair, hits for Ludwick. Hart's first pitch one-hops the advertising board behind homeplate. Barton strikes out. Mark Johnson hits for Pujols and strikes out. Lopez singles to center. OK, now they're just pulling people out of the crowd to hit. Nick Stavinoha grounds to short and Cedeno boots it. Two on for Kennedy, who needs a triple for the cycle. Kennedy fans and here's Ryne Sandberg to sing TMOTTBG. He looks less than happy watching this mess.

Hoffpauir grounds out. Cedeno singles to center. Ryno's talking about that Peoria Chiefs-Kane Country Cougars game. They should ask him about that Dayton Dragons game. Ward grounds into a 4-6-3 double play.

Cardinals 12, Cubs 2

Eighth inning

Michael Wuertz will pitch the eighth. Izturis singles to left. Barton strikes out. LaRue hits into an inning-ending double play.

McGehee grounds out to second. No, this is not the last FTC of the year, for those of you asking. We'll bring you every playoff game for both the Cubs and Sox. This is the last regular-season FTC and I suppose I should've had some nice give-aways today, but you know, that would take a promotions budget. I guess we've got a ton of ChicagoSports.com hats lying around, if anyone wants to stop by, I'll give you one. Or Rahula will give you one. Pie grounds out. Johnson singles to right. Fontenot walks. Fukudome hits for Wuertz, who replaced Hart, who replaced Blanco in the batting order. Fukudome singles up the middle and Johnson scores from second. With Hill up, a wild pitch allows the two runnes to move up. And another wild pitch and Fontenot scores. Hill strikes out. The Cubs get a couple of runs.

Cardinals 12, Cubs 4

Ninth inning

Bob Howry will work the ninth. Schumaker swings at the firt pitch and grounds out to Fontenot. Barton singles to center. Johnson singles to left. The pitcher Kelvin Jimenez will hit for himself. He takes a callled third strike right down the middle and walks back to the dugout. Stavinoha grounds into a fielder's choice and here come the Cubs down eight runs.

The Hoff strikes out swinging. Cedeno draws a walk. Ward bangs a double off the wall in the right-field well. Cedeno stops at third. The immortal Casey McGehee works the count full before grounding to first. But there's an RBI for my guy. Cedeno scores on the play. Ward takes third. Pie doubles over Barton's head to the left-field wall, scoring Ward. Don't go anywhere, folks. Folks? Anything? Nothing. Moving on ... La Russa yanks Jimenez for some other pitcher, Ron Villone. Johnson fouls off a few pitches. Johnson chases one away and that's it. Ball game and it wasn't pretty. But you've got to move on.

Final: Cardinals 12, Cubs 6

Zambrano follows up his no-hitter with the much more common many-hitter. But don't fret. It's just a matter of time for the Cubs. Can you imagine if this game happened in a tight race? Good lord. The only question is the health of Zambrano. Thanks for reading all year, everyone. See you in the playoffs. Beer me.

acaldarelli@tribune.com

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