Unless they turn it around at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will make it 99 years and counting without a World Series title. The Billy Goat Curse would still reign.
The frustration is showing, too. After giving up the go-ahead homer to Young in the second inning, Chicago starter Ted Lilly spun around, wound up with his pitching arm and slammed his mitt to the ground.
“I’ve never seen a pitcher throw the glove like that on the mound,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said with a bemused smile. “He threw a high fastball and the kid put a good swing on it.”
Lilly, though, was not amused.
“It was clear that I was upset,” he said. “This was a big game.”
Three years removed from a 111-loss season, the young Diamondbacks are one victory from the NL championship series. They can complete a sweep Saturday in Chicago, where Arizona will send Livan Hernandez to the mound against Rich Hill.
Bob Melvin, Arizona’s low-key manager, is the maestro of this team’s unlikely climb to contention.
“It was rewarding to get here,” he said. “Now that we’re here and now that we’ve got a couple under our belt, our expectations keep rising, and that’s the way it’s been all year.”
Eric Byrnes had an RBI triple for the Diamondbacks, the first team since the 1906 White Sox to have a league’s best record and worst batting average.
They won yet again with timely hitting, solid starting pitching, sound defense and a strong bullpen.
“Everything is going our way right now and hopefully we’ll keep it that way,” Drew said. “We had clutch hitting and then clutch defense.”
As for Piniella, his best-laid plans might be for naught.
The Cubs’ manager pulled ace Carlos Zambrano after only six innings and 85 pitches with the score 1-all in the opener Wednesday because he was planning to pitch him on short rest Sunday in Game 4. Now, there might not even be a Game 4.
Doug Davis gave up a two-run homer to Geovany Soto in the second, then settled in for three scoreless innings. The Arizona left-hander, acquired in the trade that sent Johnny Estrada to Milwaukee last offseason, allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings overall. He struck out eight and walked four.
Davis also had an RBI on a safety squeeze. He left to a standing ovation, at least from the Diamondbacks’ portion of a crowd that included a large share of Chicago fans.
“I had a decent curveball,” Davis said. “I threw it early for strikes. Around the fourth or fifth inning, I was able to expand it and get swings.”
However, reliever Juan Cruz promptly gave up a two-run double to pinch-hitter Daryle Ward, with both runs charged to Davis. That was the only mistake the Arizona relievers made. Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon and Jose Valverde each threw a scoreless inning to close it out.
Valverde had to pitch around an error by second baseman Augie Ojeda that left two runners on base. But the right-hander struck out Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to end it, two of Chicago’s 23 strikeouts in the first two games.
“They’re an aggressive swinging team,” Davis said, “and they swung at a lot of pitches that would have been balls.”
The Cubs’ top four batters were 4-for-19 with seven strikeouts. In the two nights combined, the first four batters are 5-for-35 with 13 strikeouts.
“I think they have a very good scouting report,” Alfonso Soriano said, “and they know how to pitch.”
Lilly lasted just 3 1-3 innings, allowing six runs and seven hits.
There were more Cubs fans on hand for this one than Arizona’s 3-1 victory Wednesday night, and they were roaring early when Chicago took the lead on Soto’s two-run homer in the second.
It didn’t last long. With runners at second and third and two outs, Lilly had a 1-2 count on Young, but ran it to 3-2. Then the Arizona rookie hit a 421-foot shot into the left-field seats and the Diamondbacks led 3-2.
“You feel like you’re floating on air when you’re running around the bases,” Young said. “There’s no feeling like it.”
Lilly fired his glove to the ground as the ball sailed over the wall, and the Cubs trailed the rest of the way.
Drew, who had another outstanding defensive night at shortstop, followed with a broken-bat infield single. Byrnes missed a homer by about a foot, hitting one off the top of the left-field wall for a triple that brought Drew home, and it was 4-2.
Drew added a two-run triple in the fourth after Ojeda reached on a bunt, though it appeared he ran out of the baseline. Piniella complained, but not with much enthusiasm.
Four of six Diamondbacks who walked came around to score.
“That’s the type of team we need to be,” Melvin said. “We need to be able to grind guys.”
Cubs RHP Kerry Wood, who made a comeback this year from a career-threatening shoulder injury, pitched two scoreless inning and became the 20th player in franchise history to appear in three postseasons—1998, 2003 and 2007. … With scattered showers in the area, the roof at Chase Field was closed. … The crowd of 48,575 was not a sellout.