Well, after all, they are the Cubs.
Chicago righthander Kevin Tapani, who waged a brilliant duel with Tom Glavine, was two outs from a stunning shutout Thursday night in the second game of the National League divisional series. But Atlanta's Javy Lopez homered to tie the game in the ninth.After the Cubs had muffed a scoring chance in the 10th, they had a defensive breakdown in the bottom of the 10th. That allowed the heavily favored Braves to pull out a 2-1 victory on Chipper Jones' one-out single before a Turner Field-record crowd of 51,713.
The Braves lead the best-of-five series 2-0. Game 3 is Saturday night in Chicago.
Loser Terry Mulholland walked Walt Weiss with one out in the 10th and pinch-hitter Tony Graffanino surprisingly sacrificed with one out. The bunt went to the left of Mulholland, who made a move toward it and then decided he couldn't get there.
First-baseman Mark Grace fielded the ball and then tossed to first. Mulholland picked off the throw but was unable to touch first base. Second-baseman Mickey Morandini was on the bag and was Grace's intended recipient. Graffanino probably would have been out.
Grace said Mulholland's being such a good fielder hurt him. "It was aggressive play on Terry's part. Obviously, I was looking for Mickey," Grace said.
"Terry's involved in everything. He was over there like a cat. It was a mistake. It was an aggressive mistake, and you can overlook that."
Mulholland said, "It wasn't well-executed fundamentally on my part. I got in the way. This is about as tough as it gets as far as losing. We should have beaten those guys tonight."
Jones, who had struck out three times, lined Mulholland's first pitch into left field, the ball landing just inside the foul line.
Mulholland said, "I didn't make a good pitch. I don't feel he beat me as much as I beat myself."
Jones said, "I don't know how it stayed fair. With the night I was having, it was a little bit of justice."
Happy to see Tapani leave after nine innings, Jones said, "I've never had a righthander pitch me like that. I've struck out three times before, but that was against Randy Johnson."
Lopez hit a 1-0 high fastball for his homer. "You've got to tip your cap to him there," Tapani said.
Lopez said, "That's the best at-bat I ever had, especially in that situation. That's like winning the World Series to me. To get to the World Series, you have to win that type of game."
Jones said, "We didn't want to have to go to that crazy place in Chicago (Wrigley Field) and have to win a game just to get back to Atlanta."
In the Cubs' 10th, Lopez was involved in the defensive play of the game. As pinch-hitter Jeff Blauser struck out on a half swing against rookie Odalis Perez on a full-count pitch, Morandini took off from first. Lopez threw to shortstop Weiss, who had been playing in for a play at the plate because Glenallen Hill was on third and the Braves were conceding they couldn't get a ground-ball double play with Morandini running.
Weiss had a bad angle on Morandini after taking Lopez's throw but second-base umpire Randy Marsh called Morandini out. Television replays indicated that a tag might not have been applied.
"With a lefthander on the mound, it's tough to get a good jump and Mick didn't get a good jump," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "He knew the throw beat him, obviously, but he didn't think the tag was ever made."
Braves manager Bobby Cox countered, "Great tag by Walt Weiss."
The Cubs still have not won a postseason game since the 1989 NL Championship Series.
Riggleman had Rod Beck, who had 51 saves, available for the ninth but chose to stay with Tapani.
"When you've got a guy like Beck, the temptation is just to hand it over to him," Riggleman said. "But 'Tap' was on a roll and at the top of his game.
"The way I chose didn't work out. I feel terrible for Tap and our club that it didn't work out. That's the way I chose to go, and the results weren't good. It's always a tough call. I don't feel as if it was right or wrong. He was just throwing good."