Nearing the end of a season that has alternated between meaningless and annoying, the Cubs had a chance to do something important: Shut the St. Louis Cardinals out in Chicago. Before the weekend series, the Cardinals were 0-10 in the city, swept twice by the Cubs and once by the White Sox. But as the Cubs usually do when the games actually matter, they came unglued.

On Friday, they were outscored 11-3 and out-homered 6-2 in an embarrassing loss that ended the Cardinals’ futility in Chicago. Starter Carlos Marmol made it through just three innings, but at least he didn’t give up five runs and three round-trippers in one inning, like reliever David Aardsma did.

The Cubs were victorious 5-4 in a 10-inning affair Saturday, but that didn’t help Carlos Zambrano, who pitched seven innings of two-run ball, only to watch reliever Bob Howry squander Zambrano’s chance for a win. With the Cubs leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth, Howry gave up a home run to the first hitter he faced, Chris Duncan, effectively ending Zambrano’s bid to capture a Cy Young Award.

“He got me good there,” said Zambrano after the game. “Bob got me good.”

On Sunday, Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter made his own case for the Cy Young Award, giving up just two runs over eight innings. St. Louis won the contest 5-3, and finished the series with 10 home runs.

“So what?” said Phil Nevin after the game. “It’s not like we had anything to play for … last I checked we were like 10 games out of the Wild Card. Luckily this is my only year here.”

Number of the Weekend: 45
Days until Dusty Baker will officially start referring to the 2007 Cubs as “they” rather than “we.”

heckler editorial staff