It was the second time in three games that the outcome turned on what was perceived to be a bad call by the plate umpire. The Dodgers lost a 3-2 decision to the Mets on just such a decision.
But the Dodgers had little else to complain about, having both hit and pitched poorly over the final nine innings of the loss. The game was not an artistic success with 17 runs, 23 hits, eight errors, 13 walks and 26 men left on base between the two teams.
Los Angeles failed to win a game in which the Cubs, owners of the worst record in the NL, committed six errors and messed up at least two other plays.
After scoring four in the first, two in the second and one in the third the Dodgers kicked in the cruise control behind Derek Lowe, their hottest starter and the National League Pitcher of the Month in August.
But Lowe struggled from the start despite the big lead.
He allowed a double and a walk in the first, a double in the second, a single in the fourth and then the roof fell in on him in the fifth. He gave up five hits in succession, collected a strikeout, then gave up two more, a walk and sixth hit of the inning and quickly Chicago was back in it, trailing 7-5.
"That game was decided in the fifth inning," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "Not the 10th or 11th or whatever it was we played."
Joe Beimel came in to pitch the sixth and after a single and a walk, Elmer Dessens was needed to get out of the inning. Brett Tomko was tagged for a single and a pair of walks before Jonathan Broxton was called upon and he promptly allowed a two-run single to tie the game.
J.D. Drew made a three-base error in the eighth and a sacrifice fly put Chicago in front 9-8. The Dodgers tied in the ninth, scoring a run without benefit of a hit, the generous Cubs providing a pair of errors.
Aaron Sele provided two scoreless innings before Tim Hamulak took over in the 12th and walked two before serving up a sharp single to center by old friend Cesar Izturis, swapped for Greg Maddux just before the trading deadline.
The Dodger offense took off like it would make things easier for Lowe, and it did for four innings.
Julio Lugo and Nomar Garciaparra singled in the first and Drew walked. Jeff Kent's singled in the first run, Andre Ethier lived on the first of three errors by the Cub's second baseman in the inning, to make it 2-0. Matt Kemp's fielder's choice moved the score to 3-0 and when the ball was thrown away on the play, L.A. led 4-0.
They added two more in the second on a stunning fourth error by the Chicago second baseman and Rafael Furcal's home run. An error on the third baseman and Russell Martin's single moved the Dodger lead to 7-0 after three.
But then the offense shut down, collecting only another single by Martin in the fifth and a double by Lugo in the eighth and after Garciaparra and Lowe were unable to drive him in, Lowe error gave the Cubs an 8-7 lead.
Kent lived on an error to open the ninth, Wilson Betemit, hitting for Matt Kemp who is 3-for-21 since returning from Las Vegas, lived on an error by the third baseman, allowing pinch-runner Kenny Lofton to race to third.
With Cincinnati's 5-4 win over the Padres on the board, Martin's fielder's choice tied the game and Saenz was hit by a pitch but Furcal bounced out to end the inning. A pair of walks in the eleventh inning -- giving the Dodgers their 22nd and 23rd runners of the evening -- died on base when Ethier grounded out.
Tony Jackson wrote in the Los Angeles Daily News, "If the Dodgers end up blowing their already thin lead in the National League West and watching the playoffs from the comfort of their living rooms, history will likely show that the race turned on their most indigestible loss of the season. And for that, the Dodgers can blame only themselves."
Score by innings r h e Dodgers 421 000 001 00-8 8 2 Chicago 000 050 210 01-9 15 6 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal SS 5 1 1 2 .296 Lugo 3B-2B 6 1 2 0 .222 Garciaparra 1B 6 1 1 0 .307 Drew RF 3 1 1 0 .277 Kent 2B 4 1 1 1 .276 Lofton PR-CF 0 1 0 0 .305 Ethier LF 5 0 0 1 .321 Kemp CF 4 1 0 1 .259 Betemit PH-3B 2 0 0 0 .272 Martin C 6 0 2 2 .291 Lowe P 1 1 0 0 .103 Beimel P 0 0 0 0 .000 Dessens P 0 0 0 0 .000 Anderson PH 1 0 0 0 .274 Tomko P 0 0 0 0 .120 Broxton P 0 0 0 0 .000 Saenz PH 0 0 0 0 .291 Sele P 0 0 0 0 .192 Loney PH 1 0 0 0 .280 Hamulack P 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 44 8 8 7 Chicago 45 9 15 9 Errors- Drew, Furcal. 2B- Lugo (4). HR- Furcal (11). RBI- Furcal 2 (57), Kent (64), Ethier (54), Kemp (23), Martin 2 (56). LOB- Los Angeles 13, Chicago 13. DP- 1 (Furcal, Kent and Garciaparra). Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Lowe 5.0 10 5-5 1 2 3.77 Beimel 0.2 1 0-0 1 0 3.23 Dessens 0.1 0 0-0 0 0 3.66 Tomko 0.1 1 2-2 2 0 4.70 Broxton 1.2 2 1-0 0 3 2.59 Sele 2.0 0 0-0 0 0 4.35 Hamulack (0-3) 0.2 1 1-1 2 0 5.35 WP- Lowe. Hit by Pitch- Saenz. T- 3-59 Att- 35,618Winning Choice-- At least the Dodgers won something. The coin toss, which took place at the league office for home-field advantage in a potential one-game playoff for the NL West title against either San Diego or San Francisco went the Dodgers way. No coin toss has yet taken place for a wild-card tie, but it will at a later date if it looks like it might be necessary. If the Dodgers finish tied with the Padres or Giants both clubs are guaranteed playoff berths, no one-game playoff will be held to determine the actual division winner. Instead, a tiebreaker formula will be employed to determine playoff seeding. …The Braves run of 14 straight division titles came to an end Tuesday night. …Greg Maddux dodged questions about his future before the game. "I'm going to play this year, and I don't want to get ahead of myself," Maddux said. "You know, there's a lot that can happen in the next month, month and a half, over here. I just want to kind of focus on that and enjoy some time off and then start making decisions." … Olmedo Saenz recorded his 34th pinch-hit as a Dodger on Sunday, tying Rick Monday for eighth place on the all-time franchise list. Mickey Hatcher is next with 38. …The Marlins RF Cody Ross had four hits and three of them were home runs against the Mets. …Brad Penny (15-8, 4.21 ERA) opposes Angel Guzman (0-5, 7.53) in tonight's game in Wrigley Field. Rookie Hong-Chih Kuo will start on Thursday against the struggling Cubs, and Maddux will start on Friday in the first game of a crucial four-game series against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.