Derrek Lee's home run into a 14-m.p.h. wind in the 10th inning Wednesday gave the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets, after new closer Ryan Dempster had blown a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth.
"I guess we don't do anything the easy way," manager Dusty Baker said.
Lee even did a Sammy Sosa-like hop after the ball left his bat, though he insisted afterward he did it unconsciously.
"I don't know what I was doing," he said. "I didn't know I hopped. I was just praying for the ball to get over that fence so we'd get the win."
But before the Cubs could celebrate their first series triumph since April 25-27 against Cincinnati, they had to sweat out the possibility of losing Dempster for a prolonged period.
Dempster was hit in the right forearm with a Mike Piazza line drive to end the Mets' 10th and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital afterward. X-rays proved negative and general manager Jim Hendry said Dempster had a deep bone bruise. He added the Cubs would know more about his condition Thursday.
The game-time temperature Wednesday was 49 degrees, a 28-degree drop from Tuesday night, with a bitter wind blowing in from left.
Mark Prior left after seven innings with a 3-2 lead, allowing only one earned run on two hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts. But in a virtual rerun of his last start May 6 against Philadelphia, the Cubs' bullpen left Prior empty-handed. Prior has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his six starts but has only a 3-1 record to show for it.
The daily drama began in the ninth when Dempster entered for his first save opportunity since being moved into the closer's role Monday.
After striking out Victor Diaz on a slider, Dempster gave up a game-tying single on a 1-1 fastball to Eric Valent, who was hitting .148 at the time.
It was the fifth blown save in 10 opportunities for the Cubs' bullpen.
The Cubs promptly wasted a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the ninth when Neifi Perez hit into a pitcher-to-home-to-first double play.
At that point, it looked like another in a season-long series of Cub-related disasters.
But in the bottom of the 10th, Lee fouled off five straight 3-2 pitches before grabbing hold of a Heath Bell fastball and powering his 10th home run into the front row of the left-field bleachers.
Lee's shot allowed the remnants of the chilled crowd of 38,475 to heave a sigh of relief.
"When I hit it, I thought it was gone," Lee said. "Then as I was watching it, I thought 'That ball's not going to make it.'"
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