Dusty Baker and Ozzie Guillen met behind home plate Sunday after the final out of the final game of the 2006 City Series, exchanging hugs and wishing each other good luck the rest of the way.
After the Cubs knocked off the White Sox 15-11 at Wrigley Field to cap one of the wildest season series in the 10-year history of Cubs-Sox showdowns, it was time for both managers to catch their breath before moving on to more pressing matters.
For Guillen, the primary goal is catching Detroit in the American League Central and going into the postseason from a position of strength.
The White Sox fell 2½ games behind the Tigers with Sunday's loss but have 13 games left against them in what figures to be a great race to October.
For Baker, it's all about keeping his team afloat and simply keeping his job. On Sunday he was satisfied to come out the winner in a game that featured nine home runs and 34 hits.
"It was a great game to watch, a great game to manage," Baker said. "It's hard to outhit those guys, and that's what happened today."
A matchup of two pitchers who later would be chosen for the All-Star Game turned into a typical windblown Wrigley Field slugfest.
Carlos Zambrano hit his third home run during the Cubs' seven-run first inning and scattered seven runs in a six-inning stint, improving to 7-3.
Sox lefty Mark Buehrle gave up 11 runs on 13 hits in five innings, both career highs, falling to 9-5 in his most dreadful outing in three years.
Buehrle's ERA rose by more than half a run, from 3.22 to 3.86.
"On the drive to the game, you think this is going to be a pitchers' duel," Guillen said. "It wasn't. They had their best pitcher. We had our best pitcher. It was an ugly game. Ugly on both sides."
Zambrano facetiously suggested he might want to be a participant in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game, even though a sore left knee may prevent him from pitching. Buehrle, who started and won last year's All-Star Game, was glad Guillen selected him, though he conceded he certainly didn't look like he deserved the honor Sunday.
"It's nice and a great honor, but to pitch like crap today and not give your team a chance to win..." Buehrle said. "I didn't pitch like an All-Star today."
Neifi Perez homered and tied a career high with four RBIs for the Cubs.
Angel Pagan hit his first two major-league home runs, both off Cliff Politte, and Michael Barrett collected a career-high four hits, including a homer.
The Cubs finished the homestand at 2-5 and avoided getting swept at home by their crosstown rivals.
The seven-run first off Buehrle put the Cubs in control, and though the Sox kept coming back thanks to home runs by Juan Uribe, Jim Thome, Joe Crede and Tadahito Iguchi, it wasn't enough to pull off another miracle finish.
Former Sox closer Bob Howry pitched the final 11/3 innings and recorded his second save as beleaguered closer Ryan Dempster got the day off. Having lost his closer's role to Keith Foulke early in the 2000 season with the Sox, Howry can empathize with Dempster's plight.
"It's really magnified when we're not winning many games and you have an opportunity to win a couple and they get away," Howry said. "It gets magnified more than it would when things are going good.
"It's a tough spot to be in. I heard how he was finishing the season last year, so we know what he can do. There's no reason he can't start another string. Part of it is probably a confidence thing, but I can't say that for sure because I'm not him."
Baker said before the game that Dempster was still his closer, and general manager Jim Hendry reiterated that Baker is still his manager, at least until he decides otherwise.
"I'm going to tell you what I always have told you and what I told Dustythat I'm going to evaluate it at the pace I'm comfortable with," Hendry said. "I get up to work, whether we've done well or done poorly like we have now, and in my heart I do what's best for the Chicago Cubs. I will continue in the path I'm on and make the decisions that I feel are best for the Cubs."
Cubs 15, White Sox 11
7-up: Cubs show some pop
Huge 1st inning, 5 homers add fizz to entertaining series
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