The Cubs are 0-6 in NLCS closeout games ... here’s how it happened

The Cubs are 0-6 in NLCS closeout games
Cubs players look on from the dugout during a 6-0 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 18.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Chicago Cubs have had six chances to win a National League Championship Series game that would have put them in the World Series. They are 0-6 in those games. A look:

1984 vs. San Diego Padres

Back when the NLCS was best-of-five, the Cubs won the first two games at home and seemed a cinch to win at least one of the games in San Diego to advance.

Game 3: The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second, but the Padres scored three runs off  Chicago starter Dennis Eckersley in the fifth and four more in the sixth, capped by Kevin McReynolds’ three-run home run off of George Frazier. Final score: Padres 7, Cubs 1.


Game 4:  After the Cubs all game erased 2-0 and 5-3 deficits, the score was tied, 5-5, in the bottom of the ninth when Chicago closer Lee Smith gave up a single to Tony Gwynn and then a massive homer to Steve Garvey to end the game and send the series to a decisive fifth game. Final score: Padres 7, Cubs 5.

Game 5: The Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 after two innings and maintained that lead until the bottom of the sixth, when the Padres scored two runs on consecutive sacrifice flies by Graig Nettles and Terry Kennedy. The Cubs felt good though, with eventual 1984 Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe on the mound. But it all fell apart in the seventh. After a walk and a bunt, Tim Flannery came up with Carmelo Martinez on second and one out. He hit a grounder to Leon Durham at first, but the ball went between his legs and into right field, scoring Martinez with the tying run. Then the floodgates opened. Alan Wiggins singled, Gwynn doubled home two and Garvey singled home Gwynn to give the Padres a 6-3 lead. Closer Rich Gossage came in and shut down the Cubs in the eighth and ninth to send San Diego to the World Series. Final score: Padres 6, Cubs 3.


2003 vs. Florida Marlins


The Cubs had a 3-1 lead in the series, with Games 6 and 7 scheduled for Wrigley Field, so what could go wrong?

Game 5: Josh Beckett tossed a two-hit shutout and the Marlins got home runs from Jeff Conine, Mike Lowell and Ivan Rodriguez in an easy win. Final score: Marlins 4, Cubs 0.

Game 6: The Bartman game. The Cubs led, 3-0, going into the top of the eighth. With one out and a man on second, Florida’s Luis Castillo lofted a fly ball down the left-field line that drifted just foul. Several Cubs fans reached for it and one deflected it, interfering with a possible catch by left fielder Moises Alou. Despite Alou’s protests, umpires refused to call interference, allowing the at-bat to continue. Castillo walked. Rodriguez followed with a single, scoring Juan Pierre. Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder to short that could have been a double play, but Alex Gonzalez muffed it, loading the bases with one out. Derrek Lee doubled, scoring Castillo and Rodriguez. Kyle Farnsworth came in to replace Mark Prior and intentionally walked Lowell, loading the bases again. Conine hit a fly ball to deep right, scoring Cabrera and allowing Lee and Lowell to move up a base. Farnsworth intentionally walked Todd Hollandsworth, loading the bases for the third time. Mike Mordecai doubled, scoring all three runners. Pierre singled in Mordecai, capping the Marlins’ eight-run inning. Final score: Marlins 8, Cubs 3.

Game 7: Again the Cubs grabbed an early lead; they were ahead 5-3 after three innings with ace Kerry Wood on the mound. But Wood gave up three runs in the fifth, with Rodriguez, Cabrera and Lee all driving in runs, and the Cubs never caught up. Final score: Marlins 9, Cubs 6.