Cubs

Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

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Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 10:10 p.m. Updated: 11:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs came storming out of the dugout as if they had just won a playoff game, hopping around home plate. It felt like a raw October night 34 degrees at first pitch and wind strong enough that Geovany Soto could feel his eyes watering.

Teammates mobbed Soto after he sprinted from first base on Tyler Colvins two-out, pinch-hit double into the right-field corner. Just like that, it suddenly ended in the 10th inning, a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.

That was the best feeling in the whole world right then and there, Soto said. We wanted to get out of there so badly.
WATCH: Soto's comments on the frigid weather

Really, there was no end in sight. Colvin had been hitless in his last four games and went 3-for-24 on the just-completed road trip. He was pressing and had trouble catching up to the fastball. He lined a 92 mph sinker from Padres reliever Chad Qualls and the celebration was on.

You got to have your confidence, Colvin said. You got to go up there knowing youre going to hit. Thats the way I have to approach it.

WATCH: Colvin on his big hit

It has been that way for the 8-8 Cubs, who have hit the .500 mark eight different times already, the first time theyve opened the season like that in 81 years.

Getting traction in the standings and with fans hasnt been easy. The attendance was announced at 36,597, though there were nowhere near that many bodies in the ballpark. Even Carlos Zambrano walked into the interview room afterward and twisted his head to try to get a look at the Bulls score.

For all the talk across the years about getting rid of Zambrano, were left with this question: Where would the Cubs be without him?

On a pitching staff filled with question marks, Zambrano has been the one carrying the rotation. He gave the Cubs eight scoreless innings and snapped the teams streak of 11 consecutive games without a quality start. He did it without wearing long sleeves.

Thank God that everything is going good for me, Zambrano said. Ive been working hard. Ive been doing whatever it takes in between starts to win, to be ready for every game. We needed this one.

WATCH: Zambrano on the magnitude of this game

Zambrano has not lost a game in almost 10 months, since the Cubs told him to leave U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 and get into anger-management counseling. He seems to have come out of it in a much better place.

Even in showing up Mike Quade last week, Zambrano demonstrated another level of maturity by immediately apologizing for walking off the mound before the manager got there.

Zambrano didnt try to shift the blame elsewhere. And there was absolutely no rush to get him out of this game as he commanded his fastball and dropped breaking pitches down into the zone. He retired the final 13 Padres he faced and struck out three in a row at two different points.

He stayed calm, Soto said. He stayed within his game.

And as Zambrano neared his 10th and final strikeout, the crowd rose to its feet, getting loud even with Wrigley Field about half-empty.

I love these fans, Zambrano said. Theyve been there for me. When I do badly, theyve been there for me, too. But that gets me going, believe me.

I dont like to screw it up. I just want to go out there and win. Every time I heard something from the crowd, I felt motivated.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol combined to shut down the Padres (7-9) across the final two innings. These are the types of games you have to endure in Chicago in April. Maybe it can be a springboard for an inconsistent team looking to get hot.

I believe in this team, Zambrano said. I believe that we can get on a streak and win 10, 15 games in a row. We can do it. If we can keep winning series, (then) when the winning streak comes were going to be in a good position. We have a great team. Its up to us.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

'We gotta bring it' — Cubs looking for motivation with five games left

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USA TODAY

'We gotta bring it' — Cubs looking for motivation with five games left

Thanks to a 6-0 loss to the Pirates Tuesday night, the Cubs are in an uncomfortable position in the NL Central division with just a half-game lead and five left to play, yet the clubhouse remains confident.

In fact, Mike Montgomery — who surrendered five runs on seven hits in four innings Tuesday — said after the game that this loss might serve a positive purpose.

"We got a resilient bunch of guys. We know where we’re at, and it’s kind of a little bit of motivation," Montgomery said. "We gotta bring it these last five games. Our guys know that, we’re not going to get discouraged. We’re going to regroup and get ready for tomorrow."

The Cubs have little choice but to bring it, especially with the red-hot Brewers scoring more runs on Tuesday night (12) than the Cubs have in their last three games combined. The Cubs did score 8 and then 6 runs on Saturday and Sunday on the South Side, but they turned around and put up only a single run Monday night before being blanked Tuesday. 

Joe Maddon said after the shutout loss that the up-and-down nature of his offense is a frustration.

"We're not happy. And again it’s really coming down to the one component of the game we just haven’t been good at recently, and that’s offense," Maddon said. "And then you have to be careful because guys start pressing even more."

In the loss, the Cubs got four hits off of Pirates starter Chris Archer, but he struck out nine and squashed any remote scoring opportunity almost as quickly as it arose. Whether or not the lineup is pressing, they struggled to put together good at bats against Archer.

"This has been going on for a bit — our offense has been very inconsistent. I mean, Archy was good, but we just got to fight through that, especially this time of the year," Maddon said.

Leadoff man Daniel Murphy started the game with a promising single for the Cubs, but the rest of the lineup couldn't turn that into a go-ahead run. The Pirates followed up with a three-run homer in the second inning, setting the Cubs up to chase for the rest of the night. 

"Our concept of scoring first is going to be pretty important," Maddon said of the next five games. "We have to grab the lead and hold on to it."

But, like Montgomery, Murphy saw some positive takeaway from Tuesday's loss.

"I think that what this club has done a really good job of is kinda washing off a poor performance, which is unfortunately what we've had the last two nights," Murphy said. "We'll go home, we'll sleep up, see our families, and see if we can come in here tomorrow and play a little bit better."

The pressure of a very close division race that is coming down to the final days is real, and Montgomery said that it creates the win-or-go-home playoff atmosphere in these last games. That's a challenge he and his teammates are up for. 

"We’ve grinded out this whole year. We have a lot of good players, a lot of guys who have been through a lot of different things," Montgomery said.

He knows a bit about that, having pitched the final out of the 2016 World Series. The core of the group that won that championship is largely still intact, but the success of the postseason two years ago feels further away in history when the picture to win the division is looking increasingly bleak. 

Unless the Brewers slow down, the Cubs are in a position where they have to nearly win out to keep from losing their hold on the NL Central. That said, they are a virtual lock for a postseason spot no matter what, thanks to the wild card. 

Not really a desirable outcome for a 90+ win team, but a loss for the Cardinals and a win for the Rockies on Tuesday put the Cubs' magic number to at least get in to the postseason down to one.

But that's not the outcome the team is expecting, and certainly not the one they're shooting for. Montgomery said that losing both the pitching and the hitting battle to the Pirates Tuesday is a little fuel for the Cubs.


"Take it like every game matters from this point on," Montgomery said of the team's mindset for the next five days. "Our guys are equipped for that, and mentally this gives us a chance to really come together as a group and go out there and perform our best baseball."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Can the Cubs clinch the playoff berth or will the Brewers continue to sneak up on them?

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Can the Cubs clinch the playoff berth or will the Brewers continue to sneak up on them?

Ozzie Guillén and Scott Podsednik join Leila Rahimi from the studio to talk about the Cubs potential for clinching the playoff berth. Will the Brewers continue to sneak up on the Cubs?

Plus, Is Moncada's season considered a success?

Listen here or in the embedded player below!