Zambrano's elbow really was the least of the Cubs' worries, the big Venezuelan throwing seven innings that were all but flawless but for a little wildness. He was dealing throughout, with velocity and movement, confidence and swagger, not to mention plenty of emotion. In other words, he was just the same good old Zambrano.
The offence though simply didn't show up yet again, and so when Zambrano departed after those seven innings having thrown 108 pitches, the bullpen had the slenderest of 1-0 margins to protect. Mike Wuertz didn't pitch particularly well, working too high in the zone for my liking and hanging a few breaking balls that he was lucky went unpunished. But he deserves little blame for the way the critical runs crossed the plate. In spite of some excellent defence (particularly from Neifi in the hole) that made the plays closer than they should have been, two infield hits gave the White Sox first and third with two outs, setting the stage for "Paulie", as the White Sox could all too loudly be heard chanting on the broadcast.
Konerko half lined and half blooped the ball towards short left center. Corey, reading it well right off the bat and using his sheer speed to good effect, covered a lot of ground and got within a dive of the ball. He dove, but just as the fans thought he'd got it covered and was about to end the inning, he closed his glove just a moment too soon. The ball hit off the glove and squirted into left field, behind Dubois who had been backing up Corey in case it got by him. Podsednik scored from third, and Rowand wasn't so far behind him that he couldn't plate the go-ahead run. And, just like that, the Cubs' one-run lead was not only gone but they trailed by one. Damn.
From there on out, there was a sense of inevitability to the game. Will Ohman came in and allowed hits to both runners he faced, and with that another two runs, and it was left to Hawkins to record the final out of the four-run rally. The Cubs got two back in the bottom of the inning (Hairston picking up a 3rd RBI and Lee a 38th), but Hawkins, left in to pitch the ninth, served up a meatball to Jermaine Dye. Then if was Bartosh's turn to make a mess of things, before Dusty finally decided he'd go to his best reliever of late, only a bit too late. Wellemeyer for closer?
And so the White Sox take the series. I'm not indifferent to that.