Well, one out of three will have to do for now.
Three days ago the Cubs had three starters of the power core of their pitching staffMatt Clement, Mark Prior and Kerry Woodlined up to face teams that will be watching the playoffs on TV.
On Friday, they survived 49 minutes of rain delay and barely escaped the Cincinnati Reds for the only victory from their three starts, a 7-6 comeback win that allowed the Cubs to stay within one game of the Houston Astros in the National League Central Division race.
Pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin's two-run single in the seventh inning gave them the winning margin after they had blown a five-run lead, and manager Dusty Baker finished the day drained.
"We needed this game very badly," Baker said before making it clear that the Cubs need to elevate their game. "Our hot time is still coming."
For a while, however, it looked as if the Cubs were going to lose ground to somebody. They wasted a 5-0 lead and fell behind 6-5 on Dernell's Stenson's two-run, pinch-hit double in the seventh inning. But they strung together a walk and three hits with two outs in their half of the seventh to regain the lead on Goodwin's clutch hit.
Mike Remlinger and Joe Borowski closed out with two innings of scoreless relief, but not without another scare.
Borowski recorded his eighth straight save, his 27th in 30 opportunities this season, but a pair of singles in the ninth almost became his undoing. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez saved the Cubs with a leaping stab of pinch-hitter Ray Olmedo's high bouncer, turning a potential game-tying hit into a forceout.
"If [Ramirez] mistimes his leap, we're in a lot of trouble there," Borowski said.
A crowd of 38,219 watched the Cubs flirt with losing their third straight game despite scoring in the first four innings against a last-place team playing out the string. Wood wobbled through six innings and left with a 5-1 lead, seemingly a lock for what would have been a career-high 13th victory.
The lead vaporized in the seventh when all three men to face Mark Guthrie scored. Two came in on a double off Antonio Alfonseca, making his return from a five-game suspension. The Reds then took the lead with a walk, sacrifice and Stenson's two-run double to the wall in left-center field.
The Cubs waited out the rain delay, then may have saved their season. With two out, Randall Simon walked ahead of Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez singles to load the bases. Goodwin, pinch hitting for Paul Bako, grounded hard up the middle.
Ex-White Sox second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez managed to get a glove on the ball, but it trickled beyond him far enough to allow Simon and Ramirez to score and put the Cubs up 7-6.
Wood, like Clement and Prior before him, struggled. He needed 96 pitches just to get through the fifth inning and was gone after the sixth. He struck out nine but walked four and hit two batters.
"We won the game, that's what matters," Wood said. "You'd like a few less dramatics, but that's the important thing."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun