Grady 1, Lou 0

Grady sent Ethier to hit for Andy LaRoche leading off the bottom of the eighth. Piniella countered with lefty Scott Eyre because Ethier hits left-handed. Ethier countered with a game-tying homer, the first pinch-hit jack this year by any Dodger not named Wilson Betemit. Also, Russell Martin made a spectacular catch of a foul pop by Matt Murton in the seventh, falling into the below-ground-level front row of the dugout-club seats and still holding onto the ball. Cubs 1, Dodgers 1, bottom 8

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Still within reach

Aramis Ramirez, pinch-hitting for the interestingly named Angel Pagan (it’s Puh-GONN, not PAY-gun), just flied to the track in right field with the bases loaded. Another two feet, and this one would have been way out of reach of the offensively challenged Dodgers. As it is, it ended the eighth inning, and the Cubs have now stranded nine. But they did get a run earlier in the inning on three straight singles off Rudy Seanez. Ethier now batting for LaRoche. Cubs 1, Dodgers 0, bottom 8

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Mass confusion

The Dodgers got out of the top of the third without even realizing it. Randy Wolf fielded a comebacker from Ryan Theriot and threw it to Jeff Kent for the force at second, the third out of the inning. But after stepping on the bag, Kent took a couple of steps toward Wolf as if the inning wasn’t over, and Wolf and the other seven Dodgers on the field seemed to follow suit. Only after the umpires reminded them that it was the third out did they start jogging off the field. It APPEARS that Kent was the one who initially got confused and everyone else then got confused by his confusion. Have to wait until after the game to find out what really happened, though. This is a pitcher’s duel extraordinaire between Wolf and Rich Hill, with some great defense (especially by former Gold Glove 1B Derrek Lee) thrown in. Cubs 0, Dodgers 0, end 4

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Today’s lineup: Nomar, Ethier sit

Furcal is back after missing yesterday with a tight right knee. And Martin is hitting third for the second time this season.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Saenz
LF Gonzo
3B LaRoche
RF Clark
LH Wolf

Today is the rubber match of the series. THE ALL-TIME SERIES. In the more than a century that the Dodgers and Cubs have been playing each other, they are dead even, with each team having beaten the other 1,006 times

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Cubs 4, Dodgers 2

Dodgers tried to rally in the eighth and then again in the ninth. But Jeff Kent, pich hitting for Gonzo, took a called third strike with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and Olmedo Saenz GIDP’s with two on and one out to end the game. Dodgers went 1 for 9 with RISP and lost by two runs. But the good news was that not only did Billingsley have a good outing, he also threw 40 pitches and ate three innings behind the shaky Hendrickson. That could put Billingsley in a position to start next Saturday at Pittsburgh, which is the next time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, or even sooner if Grady decides to push Hendrickson into the fifth spot (or replace him in the rotation with Kuo). Should be an interesting week. Dodgers fall to 28-21, and the Pods will tie them for first place if they beat the Brewers tonight. … One more night in my own bed. This 17-day stretch at home (two six-game homestands bookended around a three-gamer in Anaheim) has been OUTSTANDING. Most importantly, for me. But it has been good for the Dodgers, as well. They are 8-6 on that stretch, with one more game to go tomorrow, and with Randy Wolf going, they have a semi-favorable pitching matchup even though Rich Hill has pitched well for the Cubs. And don’t forget, this 10-game road trip starts with three in DC and four in Pittsburgh, where the Nats and Buccos are a combined 16 games under .500. And then, a three-game showdown with the Pods at Petco.

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