Playoff Series: Game 6 of 7

Florida leads 4-3 (as of 10/14)

Game 1: Tuesday, October 7
in 11
Chi Cubs8
Game 2: Wednesday, October 8
Chi Cubs12
Game 3: Friday, October 10
Chi Cubs5Final
in 11
Game 4: Saturday, October 11
Chi Cubs8Final
Game 5: Sunday, October 12
Chi Cubs0Final
Game 6: Tuesday, October 14
Chi Cubs3
Game 7: Wednesday, October 15
Chi Cubs6

Marlins 8


Cubs 3


    8:00 PM ET, October 14, 2003

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 000000080 8 - -
    CHC 100001100 3 - -

    W: C. Fox (1-0)

    L: M. Prior (1-1)

    8-run 8th inning propels Marlins past Cubs

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Five outs to go. Wrigley Field crowd on its feet. World Series within their grasp.

    Then, it was almost as if the baseball gods realized these were the Chicago Cubs.

    Game 6 breakdown
    Unsung Hero
    Ivan Rodriguez. Having watched Luis Castillo reach base on a walk -- more on that later -- Pudge faced an 0-2 hole against Mark Prior in the eighth. The Marlins' Mr. Clutch then punched a single to left that scored Juan Pierre, who doubled earlier in the inning. The rally was on. Eight runs later, Florida found itself headed for a Game 7.

    An unidentified Cubs fan. Castillo drew a base on balls in the eighth after one of the most infamous plays in baseball history. Castillo's fly ball down the left-field line appeared headed for the seats. Moises Alou raced to the wall that straddled the foul line and jumped to make the catch -- by all indications it would have been caught. That's when a spectator wearing headphones and a Cubs hat lunged for the ball and knocked it away from Alou. Castillo stayed alive and drew a one-out walk. The rest is history.

    Turning Point
    Following Pudge's at-bat in the eighth and still one out, Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder to short. Alex Gonzalez went to his right and tried to get into position for a throw to either second for a possible double play, or first for a sure out. Neither happened because the ball glanced off Gonzalez's glove. E-6. Bases loaded. Derrek Lee then delivered a double that scored two runs and knocked Mark Prior out of the game.

    It Figures
    For the first time in the NLCS between the Cubs and Marlins, neither team hit a home run. The two teams combined for 19 in the first five games of the series.

    On Deck
    Mark Redman vs. Kerry Wood, Game 7 on Wednesday night at Wrigley. The Cubs have not lost a game Wood has started since Sept. 2. Wood, however, was less than invincible is his last outing, giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings in Game 3. Redman only allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in the same game.

    Those lovable losers blew it again thanks in part to -- of all things -- one of their own fans.

    In a stunning eighth-inning turnaround, the Florida Marlins took advantage of left fielder Moises Alou's run-in with a fan on a foul fly and an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez to score eight runs in an 8-3 victory Tuesday night, forcing the NL championship series to a Game 7.

    "I don't know about the fan robbing them," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "I don't think that was the turning point of the game."

    He might've been the only person in the ballpark who felt that way.

    Mark Prior, Sammy Sosa and the Cubs cruised into the eighth with a 3-0 lead, all set to end their 58-year absence from the World Series.

    What followed was a sudden collapse that would rival anything in the Cubs' puzzling, painful past -- and the emergence of baseball's most infamous fan since Jeffrey Maier.

    A 26-year-old wearing a Cubs hat prevented Alou from catching Luis Castillo's ball. Given a last-gasp chance, the Marlins broke loose. That's about when security decided to escort the fan out. He threw a jacket over his face for protection, but not before other fans hurled beers in his direction.

    "You cost us the World Series!" one fan yelled at him.

    Alou said: "Hopefully, he won't have to regret it for the rest of his life."

    Now, after the Marlins' second straight win in the series, it goes down to Wednesday night. Ace Kerry Wood will pitch for Chicago, while the Marlins will go with Mark Redman.

    "It has nothing to do with the curse," Cubs manager Dusty Baker insisted. "It has to do with fan interference and a very uncharacteristic error by Gonzalez. History has nothing to do with this game, nothing."

    The eighth inning began easily enough, with a flyout to Alou. But Juan Pierre doubled, and sheer disaster followed.

    Castillo lifted a fly down the left-field line and Alou ran toward the brick wall, ready to do anything it took to make the catch.

    Instead, the fan reached up for the ball -- not over the wall, though -- and deflected the ball away.

    "I timed it perfectly, I jumped perfectly," Alou said. "I'm almost 100 percent that I had a clean shot to catch the ball. All of a sudden, there's a hand on my glove."

    Left-field umpire Mike Everitt correctly ruled no interference. Unlike the 12-year-old Maier in the 1996 ALCS at Yankee Stadium, this fan did not reach over a wall.

    "The ball was in the stands. It was clear," Everitt said. "I just zeroed in on the ball, and it was an easy call."

    Alou slammed his glove in anger, and many fans in the crowd of 39,577 booed and began to pelt the fan with debris.

    "The ball was in the stands, the umpire saw that," McKeon said. "I didn't think there was any interference. I don't think that was the turning point in the game."

    Chicago fire fighter Pat Looney was seated next to the fan, whose identity was not released, and said there was no misconduct.

    "It looked like it was out of play. Don't blame him," Looney said. "I should've pushed him out of the way. If I saw Alou coming, I would have.

    "He wasn't leaning over. He was behind the rail, he didn't know Alou was coming," he said. "It looks like I touched the ball, but I didn't. I got 50 hate calls already. The firehouse where I work is being bombarded."

    Castillo then walked, and the crowd sensed trouble brewing. Ivan Rodriguez hit an RBI single and Miguel Cabrera followed with a grounder in the hole that the sure-handed Gonzalez simply dropped for an error that loaded the bases.

    "For whatever reason, I didn't catch the ball," Gonzalez said. "It seemed like the spin on the ball ate me up. I didn't think it would get to me that fast."

    Derrek Lee stepped up and hit a drive into the left-field corner, pumping his fist even before he reached first base, and the two-run double tied it.

    Prior was pulled and Kyle Farnsworth came in and intentionally walked Mike Lowell to load the bases. With the crowd sitting in stunned silence and Prior blankly staring, Jeff Conine hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly.

    Mike Mordecai broke it open with a three-run double off the wall in left-center, his shot hitting near a splash of red-and-orange ivy, and Pierre added an RBI single.

    It had to be a haunting reminder for Baker. Last October, his San Francisco Giants took a big lead into the late innings of Game 6 of the World Series, and wound up losing the game and series to Anaheim.

    Chad Fox got the win and Prior took the loss, although long-suffering fans in Chicago -- still waiting for the Cubs' first Series championship since 1908 -- will certainly blame the fan.

    The Cubs have never clinched a postseason series at home, and had not even reached the World Series since 1945. Those droughts will continue for another day, and possibly a lot longer.

    "We've just got to go out and play better ball tomorrow," Baker said.

    Prior was dominant until the eighth, allowing until only three hits until then.

    And once again, Kenny Lofton got the Cubs off to a fast start.

    Lofton led off the first with a single, moved up on a sacrifice and scored his NLCS record-tying eighth run on Sosa's opposite-field double to right. That run gave the Cubs a 12-0 margin in the first inning of this series.

    Sosa and Alou singled to start the sixth against Marlins pitcher Carl Pavano. With two outs, reliever Dontrelle Willis threw a wild pitch that let Sosa scamper home.

    Mark Grudzielanek made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the seventh.

    Game notes

    Rodriguez tied the NLCS record of nine RBI set by San Francisco's Matt Williams in 1989. ... Sosa shattered his bat on an infield single in sixth, and the barrel skittered out near second base. Two bat boys sprang from the dugout to retrieve the pieces. Unlike at road parks, where broken bats by Sosa prompt catcalls of "Cork!" no derisive shouts were heard at home. ... Cubs 1B Randall Simon provided a comic moment in the second. He jumped up for Conine's liner and the ball popped out of his glove, bonking him in the head on the way down. Conine got an infield single and Simon was fine.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press