Hours before the first pitch was even thrown in Cubs-Giants Monday night, the managers of both teams fielded questions on the miraculous comeback that occurred the last time these two teams squared off.
But the Cubs offense couldn't complete another epic comeback against the San Francisco bullpen Monday, dropping a 6-4 contest in front of 36,204 fans at Wrigley Field.
Two hundred, twenty three days after the Cubs scored four runs in the ninth inning to eliminate the Giants in the National League Division Series, they put a four-spot on the board in the eighth inning.
But the Giants had built a six-run lead and called upon Hunter Strickland (who was on the mound for the final runs of that Game 4) to induce a rally-killing double play ball from Willson Contreras.
The Cubs had done nothing against Ty Blach for seven innings before Jason Heyward led off the eighth with a single. Javy Baez followed with a homer, pinch-hitter Ian Happ tripled and Ben Zobrist drilled another blast into the right-field bleachers.
Pinch-hitter Jon Jay followed Zobrist's homer with a single and after Kris Bryant flied out, Anthony Rizzo was plunked, putting two on and one out for Contreras.
"We're not tired of saying that we never quit," Baez said. "The game is 27 outs, maybe more. We just gonna keep fighting until the game is over."
Mark Melancon — the big-money closer recently activated off the disabled list who was signed to help stabilize the back end of the Giants bullpen — pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the San Francisco victory.
John Lackey had a rough outing for the Cubs, allowing five runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in five innings. He also hit two batters and gave up two home runs — including a solo shot by Joe Panik to lead off the game.
"Honestly, I threw the ball better tonight than I have my last three," Lackey said. "I felt like I executed quite a few pitches, but they got a few more balls up than we did."
Overall, Maddon liked what he saw, from the stellar defense to the "never quit" mentality.
"We had really good at-bats, played our defense," Maddon said. "That's what I'm looking for. More of that. When you lose a game like that, my thought has always been, if we keep playing like that, we're gonna win plenty.
"We didn't quit. I have nothing to complain about. I shall sleep well. That's the game we're looking for right there.
"You saw the effort. ... Sometimes the score is not in your favor but when you play baseball proeprly and keep doing that, it comes back to you."