ESPN introduces the Cubs as “The Best Team In The National League”. Oh, that is sweet. I’m looking forward to hearing Rick Sutcliff’s analysis of Z’s pitching tonight.

The first batter of the evening, Alfonso Soriano, is satisfied with only a single off a hit to left which Dan Murphy tries for, misses and leaves on the ground. Lotsa empty seats in Shea tonight, at least in the top of the 1st. A Theriot DP wipes Soriano off the bases. Dee Lee walks. Aramis hits two air homers on the first 2 pitches. And on the 5th pitch. K for Ramirez.

Now let’s see the Z-Man! Three up and three down. Z-Man looks good in the 1st.
Rick Sutcliff is discussing the Care and Feeding of the home plate umpire. Rick feels that the proper Care and Feeding benefitted Zambrano in the bottom of the 1st, while Perez and the Mets experienced the opposite result in the top of the 1st.

Mark DeRosa lofts a home run to left. That one was fair by at least 5 feet. Cubs lead 1-0. Cedeno takes a called third strike on a low pitch. Sutcliff calls it a “generous” call for the Mets. Zambrano will lead off the 3rd inning.

Bottom of the second. Z is throwing sinking 1 seam fastballs tonight according to Rick Sutcliff. Zambrano has the Mets 6 up and 6 down. Let me put it another way. There have been 2 hits in this game. The Cubs have 2 hits.

I enjoyed Bill Murray’s color commentary in the top of the 3rd. He’s sounding very mellow. Retired, he is. Interesting analysis of Zambrano’s trouble in his last start.

**BIG METS INNING ALERT** Argenis Reyes gets the 1st hit of the evening for the Mets. He’s put out at 2nd on Zambrano’s fielder’s choice of Oliver Perez’ poorly placed bunt. Jose Reyes draws the Mets 1st BB of the evening. Runners at 1st and 2nd with 2 out. Dan Murphy walks to load the bases.

Zambrano is throwing (or is having to throw) a lot of pitches tonight. He walks David Wright, scoring Argenis Reyes with the first Mets run. Score is tied, 1-1. Carlos Delgado takes Z to left center with a 4 run homer. Ohhhh, this is baaaaad. Score is 5-1, Mets. On the plus side, Zambrano has a 2 hitter going.

Before the game Lou said he wanted to leave Z in for a good long stretch tonight. (“We’ll let him work as long as possible.”) I think Lou will do just that, but, at this rate, the final score may end up being 15 or 20 to 3.

**BIG CUBS INNING ALERT** The bases are loaded for Mark DeRosa with 1 out in the top of the 5th. Two runs score on DeRosa’s double to left. That makes the score 5-3 with 1 out. Reed Johnson, representing the go ahead run, is up. Duaner Sanchez is pitching. Reed Johnson singles to left. Dan Murphy misjudges the ball and leaves it on the ground. Aramis and Fukudome (in for DeRosa) score, tying the game at 5. DeRosa, we are told, is out of the game with a knee injury. I don’t like the sound of that. The inning ends with the score tied 5-5.

Zambrano walks the 1st batter in the 5th, gets the next 2 out, then puts David Wright on and that’s all for Z. Neal Cotts comes in and puts out the fire. Rick Sutcliff sure called that sequence of events accutately.

Soriano leads off the 6th with a long out to left. Theriot grounds out 6-3. Dee Lee walks, Ramirez singles to right. Riccardo Rincon comes in to pitch to Fuku with 2 out and runners on 1st and 2nd. Fuku pops out to short. No runs scored. We hear how weak the Mets bullpen is, but they look pretty good to me. And, according to ESPN, Mark Derosa has a right calf strain.

Cotts walks Beltran to open the bottom of the 6th. Beltran steals 2nd as Church fans. Evans fans. Beltran steals 3rd with 2 out. Argenis Reyes fans, as Cotts strikes out the side.

In the 7th, Reed Johnson beats out an infield hit. Cedeno bunts back to the pitcher who cuts down Johnson at 2nd. Well, that’s better than a DP. Hoffpauir singles to right. Daryle Ward, pinch hitting for the pitcher, pops out to SS. Soriano doubles to left, scoring Cedeno. Theriot ends the inning 1-3. Cubs take the lead, 6-5.

Ramon Martinez, hitting for the pitcher, doubles to center to lead off the Mets 7th. Reyes bunts safely. Runners at the corners. The word is Cedeno was slow covering 1st, and then dropped the throw. The word from Rick Sutcliff is that Hart “almost” balked. Dan Murphy lines into a Dee Lee unassisted DP and Dave Wright flies out to Soriano. No runs score.

Dee Lee grounds out to 1B to open the 8th. Aramis walks. Fuku hits into an inning ending DP.

Samardzija is pitching in the 8th. Delgado doubles, Beltran singles, Church fans, Beltran takes 2nd, Evans grounds out to 3rd & Chavez gets a free pass to load the bases. Ramon Martinez walks to force in the tying run. 6-6. Reyes grounds out 4-3.
Samardzija throws about 30 pitches in the inning. Rick Sutcliff points out that Koyie Hill is telegraphing what pitch is coming next by how he sets up behind the plate.

In the 9th, the Cubs go 3 up and 3 down against Luis Ayala.

Bottom of the 9th. Howry is pitching. As Rick Sutcliff predicted, Hill telegraphed a breaking ball, and Murphy slammed it into the great big right center gap for a triple. The winning run is on third with no outs. Wright fans and the Cubs intentionally walk the next 2, Delgado and Beltran. Church hits into a 4-2 fielder’s choice. #8 batter fans. We’re out of the inning. Mets strand 3.

Top of the 10th. Theriot singles with 2 out and steals 2nd. He scores on Dee Lee’s bloop double to right. That was a clutch hit! Cubs lead 7-6. Aramis lines a homer to left. Cubs lead 9-6. Fuku ends the inning for the 3rd time tonight. All 3 of Fuku’s at bats have ended innings tonight. DeRosa, batting in that same 5 hole earlier (before being taken out with an injury) was 2 for 3 with a home run and a double.

Bottom of the 10th. Kerry Wood is pitching. 3 up and 3 down. Cubs win 9-6. Schadenfreude Baby!!

Z mowed ‘em down in the 1st 2 innings tonight, but he got bombed in the 3rd. Zambrano is threatening to become a short order pitcher, ala Kerry Wood or Carlos Marmol. Or maybe the Cubs will eventually platoon him with another pitcher (ala Edmonds and Johnson in center field) so Z can start every 10th day .

Rick Sutcliff’s analysis has been spot on tonight.

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I'm a third generation cubs fan, living in southeastern Wisconsin.