The Red Sox were only in Chicago for three days, but inside the cramped visiting locker room at Wrigley Field, it felt like a whole lot longer.
"Man, it seems like about 12 years," Jon Lester said as the Red Sox were packing up for their return trip to Boston.
There were no black cats at Wrigley Field this weekend. No fan interference, no goats in the stadium. No Curse of the Bambino lingered and there wasn't any controversy over fried chicken or beer.
But there was ninth-inning drama, shaky fielding and some unlucky hitting on the part of the Red Sox. There was Dustin Pedroia swearing in his media appearance after Friday's game and there was Boston manager Bobby Valentine with his hands on his head, responding to a reporter's question with "sometimes, crazy times call for crazy measures."
There were injuries, which have hampered the Red Sox all year. Josh Beckett (shoulder) and Ryan Sweeney (toe) found themselves on the disabled list this weekend and Scott Podsednik (groin) and Kevin Youkilis (toe) had to leave Sunday's game.
Beckett was supposed to be Sunday's starter, but shoulder inflammation forced Franklin Morales to the mound for his first start since 2009. He responded, allowing just two runs in five innings and striking out nine.
Morales didn't pick up the win, as two errors in a disastrous sixth inning allowed the Cubs to tie the game against reliever Matt Albers, despite the fact the ball never left the infield.
"All the sudden, there are men all over the bases and it's a tie score, but Albers never gave in," Valentine said.
The Red Sox could have easily withered under the adversity they faced this weekend and that sixth inning could have been their doom. But they rose above it and plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning.
"The guys came right back and answered the bell," Valentine said. "That's what happens. You win a game, you get that one hit and then other hits follow."
The Red Sox couldn't get the big hit on Friday, as Pedroia left the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 3-0 ballgame. Saturday, Boston eeked out a 4-3 victory on the back of Lester, who was in complete control until one pitch to Luis Valbuena got away from him and wound up in the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer.
Sunday was a step in the right direction, but could hardly be considered smooth sailing as three straight hits in the ninth loaded the bases for David DeJesus, who just missed a game-tying grand slam.
But Alfredo Aceves nailed down the win and the Red Sox caught the bus to the airport with a .500 (33-33) record.
It's been said that the BP Crosstown Cup -- which starts Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field -- has a tendancy to send the two Chicago teams in opposite directions. The White Sox swept the Cubs last month at Wrigley Field and wound up charging to first place. The Cubs, meanwhile, saw any hope of a surprise season dissipate as they found themselves in a 12-game losing streak.
Maybe this historic weekend series will do the same for the Red Sox. Maybe that seventh inning Sunday was the spark they need to catapult into a push for the playoffs.
"We need a team effort all the way," Valentine said. "We need the constants to remain constant."