10/12/2003 7:42 PM ET
Game 5 loss puts clinch on hold
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Game 5 wrapup: Marlins 4, Cubs 0
MIAMI -- The Chicago Cubs knew it wouldn't be easy getting to the World Series. They just didn't anticipate how tough Josh Beckett would make it.
Beckett threw a two-hitter Sunday to lead the Florida Marlins to a 4-0 victory and spoil the Cubs' bid to clinch the National League pennant. The Cubs are trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 1945; they haven't won the championship since 1908.
Mike Lowell belted a two-run homer and Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Conine each added solo shots for the Marlins, who avoided elimination and closed to 3-2 in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
Only three teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the pennant since the LCS went to a best-of-seven format. The only National League team to do so was the Atlanta Braves in 1996 when they rallied against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"We're going back home and we know we have a chance to finish this deal on Tuesday," Chicago's Sammy Sosa said.
Not according to Beckett.
"We're not going to quit. There's still going to be a Game 6 -- and a Game 7," he said.
The Florida players and staff had their suitcases packed and parked by the clubhouse door before Sunday's game in anticipation of a return trip to Chicago to extend the series. Hope they brought some sweaters. Temperatures at Wrigley Field for Tuesday's Game 6 will be in the 50s.
"I had an idea we were going back home," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "These guys are tough to beat here. We came in 1-1 and we're leaving 3-2 [in the series]. Now we're going back home to our fans and our people. It's going to be exciting when we go back."
Chicago phenom Mark Prior, unbeaten in the postseason, including a win in Game 2, will make his second start of the series in Game 6 against Carl Pavano. Before Sunday's game, Marlins manager Jack McKeon couldn't name a starter. He said he had to take care of Game 5 first.
"These guys won't give up. You know they won't give up," Prior said of the Marlins. "You know Josh is going to come out and do everything humanely possible to shut us down. He has that ability."
Florida's starters had let the team down in the first four games and came into Game 5 with a 7.38 ERA. Beckett fixed that.
The young right-hander struck out 11, walked one and gave up a two-out single to Chicago's Alex Gonzalez in the fifth and a one-out single to Moises Alou in the seventh. He's the fourth pitcher to throw a two-hitter in LCS history, and the first since Dave Dravecky did so for San Francisco on Oct. 7, 1987. The speed gun clocked Beckett at 100 mph on a few occasions.
"That's his bread and butter, his fastball," Chicago's Gonzalez said, "and you're going to get it."
Beckett had never thrown a complete game in the big leagues. Until now.
"Bottom line is you look at what Josh Beckett did and say, 'Here's to you,'" Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger said. "We saw that with Kerry [Wood] and Mark [Prior] in the first round. Good pitching is going to dominate and that guy is a lot better than good. You're not happy with the results but you look at the big picture and it's all right."
Longtime Cubs fans shudder at the memory of 1984 when the team had a 2-0 lead in what was then a best-of-five NLCS against San Diego. The Padres rallied to win the next three games. That was the closest the Cubs have come to the World Series since '45.
"As a staff and as a team, we're not dwelling in the past and we're only looking forward to the future," said Cubs hitting coach Gary Matthews, a member of that '84 team.
If they brought champagne to Miami, the Cubs will have to keep it on ice.
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano was his usual animated, chest-thumping, fist-pumping, screaming self. The 22-year-old Venezuelan doesn't hide his emotions.
But he also couldn't hide his disgust after serving up Lowell's blast, slamming his glove into the dugout bench when the inning was over. Zambrano gave up two runs on five hits and four walks over five innings.
"He got himself in trouble with the walks and he ended up throwing more pitches than you'd like to see," Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "He made some pitches with his slider and then he hung one to Lowell."
Zambrano hasn't given up many home runs this season -- nine in 214 innings -- but Lowell's was the fourth off Zambrano in 16 2/3 innings in the postseason.
What about his antics?
"That's his style," Rothschild said. "He's not trying to show anybody up. He's an emotional guy. That's a non-issue for me."
Baker had told Zambrano to be himself.
"I was doing the job in the regular season and Dusty told me, 'Don't worry about your emotions, just go out there and pitch your game and do everything that you did in the season,'" Zambrano said.
The Marlins should've popped champagne just for stopping the Cubs from scoring in the first inning. Beckett retired the side in order in the first for the first time in the series.
Zambrano escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. He gave up a one-out single to Juan Pierre, walked Rodriguez and hit Miguel Cabrera but got Derrek Lee to hit into a force at second.
Baker cautioned before the game that both sides were on edge. Tempers flared in the Chicago fouth when Beckett's first pitch to Sosa was at his head and knocked him down. An upset Sosa said something to home-plate umpire Larry Poncino and some of the Cubs players jumped to the top step of the dugout. Rodriguez, the Marlins catcher, stepped between his pitcher and the slugger and consoled Sosa, finishing their talk with a pat on the side of his head.
"He overreacted a lot," Beckett said of Sosa. "I don't know what he was trying to do -- trying to pull a Boston Red Sox-Yankees thing. I was so surprised I had to shoot something else back at him. It was kind of baffling to me, really."
Sosa said he didn't think Beckett was throwing at him but considered it might have been retaliation after Cabrera was hit the inning before.
"He probably wasn't [throwing at him] but because of what happened before that was my reaction," Sosa said. "I don't have anything against anybody. But if I don't like something I'm going to let him know."
The Marlins loaded the bases again with two out in the fourth but Zambrano got Luis Castillo looking on a called third strike. Zambrano celebrated by punching his fist in the air.
But Lowell connected in the fifth, driving in Cabrera, who had walked, and Rodriguez made it 3-0 with his second homer in the series, a solo shot off Dave Veres with one out in the seventh.
Now, the Cubs hope to have a reason to celebrate at home.
"Just to be able to get this far is definitely gratifying," Matthews said. "We're not hanging our heads because we lost this ballgame. They're a good ballclub. They didn't get where they are now because they weren't."
This is the 13th time the NLCS will go beyond five games since the seven-game format was introduced. Only five NL Championship Series have ever gone to seven games.
"To come down to this place and win the first two is huge," Remlinger said. "To win three against anybody in the playoffs -- especially this team in this park -- is tough. They're a good team and their fans do a great job for them.
"This is all right," Remlinger said. "We go back, get a day off, go home, get some rest, see our families. We've got our guy going Tuesday. We'll come back Tuesday night and we'll have our fans with us and hopefully we'll have a great ballgame."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Fewest hits allowed in shutouts in LCS history:
Jon Matlack, NY vs. CIN, 1973
Josh Beckett, FLA vs. CHI, 2003
Bob Forsch, STL vs. ATL, 1982
Dave Dravecky, SF vs. STL, 1987
Kevin Brown, SD vs. ATL, 1998
Mike Hampton, NY vs. STL, 2000
Randy Johnson, ARI vs. ATL, 2001
Roger Clemens, NY vs. SEA, 2000
Vida Blue, OAK vs. BAL, 1974
Dave McNally, BAL vs. MIN, 1969
Blue Moon Odom, OAK vs. DET, 1972