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Cubs inch closer to World Series
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10/11/2003 11:05 PM ET 
Cubs inch closer to World Series
Ramirez, Clement put Marlins on brink of elimination
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Aramis Ramirez's grand slam in the first inning gave the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish. (J. Pat Carter/AP)
MIAMI -- The Cubs are one game from the end of a 58-year odyssey.

They took the penultimate step on their road to fruition with an 8-3 victory over Florida in Saturday night's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, for a 3-games-to-1 edge in the best-of-seven affair.

One more win in the NLCS will end a journey of disappointment, failure and anguish begun with the last out of their most recent World Series appearance, in 1945.

The Cubs haven't actually won a World Series since 1908, but first miracles first.

The Cubbies are at the door to Nirvana because Aramis Ramirez and Matt Clement sucked all the suspense out of Game 4 Saturday night.

Ramirez skied a first-inning grand slam and later added a solo homer -- Chicago's NLCS-record 10th.

Clement, brandishing that chin growth that gives him a bit of a Billy Goat look, pitched five-hit ball two outs into the eighth inning, masterfully driving any thoughts of a characteristic surge out of the Marlins' minds.

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis was the latest victim as the Cubs continued to show a side the NL rarely saw during the regular season.

An offensively-challenged team that rode the two right arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior to the NL Central title, the Cubs have spent this series flexing.

With nightly fast starts -- 11 first-inning runs -- Chicago has poured across 33 runs in the four games. In six regular-season games, the Cubs totaled only six homers off Florida pitching.

As their latest salvo set up a comfortable win, the sizable Cubs fans portion of the Pro Player Stadium crowd of 65,829 -- another Championship Series record -- hooted it up, figuratively popping corks on the champagne Wrigleyville expects to finally pour Sunday night.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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