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Series shifts back to Chicago
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10/12/2003  7:24 PM ET 
Series shifts back to Chicago
Role reversal: Beckett all over Cubs
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Josh Beckett shut the Cubs down in Sunday's 4-0 victory at Pro Player Stadium. (Richard Patterson/
MIAMI -- The National League Championship Series didn't make a simple U-turn back to Chicago.

Josh Beckett screeched it to an about-face, and spun it out back toward Wrigley Field for a Game 6 Tuesday night, with an overpowering 4-0 two-hit masterpiece.

As if pushing the "mute" on a favorite remote, Florida's 23-year-old right-hander on Sunday silenced a Cubs lineup that for four games had turned the NLCS into fireworks -- with a short fuse.

After 33 runs, the Cubs got zip. After 47 hits, the Cubs got two. After 11 first-inning runs, there was a 12-pitch 1-2-3 first to let all know, "Not here. Not now. Not this time."

Thus, the Marlins peeled themselves off the wall in their signature style. Mike Lowell, Pudge Rodriguez and Jeff Conine went over the wall in support of Beckett's commanding pitching.

How responsible of Beckett to restore peace, since he was the one who had set the unruly tone of the first four games.

In the first inning of Game 1 in Chicago five days ago, he had surrendered four runs.

Making great on his second chance, Beckett fanned Kenny Lofton -- his first of 11 strikeouts -- and retired both Mark Grudzielanek and Sammy Sosa on grounders to short.

There is irony attached to Beckett's two contrasting starts. Florida won both. The one common element is Lowell, whose 11th-inning pinch homer claimed the Game 1 9-8 victory, and whose fifth-inning blow Sunday broke the mutual spell being cast by Beckett and Carlos Zambrano.

Now the Cubs will have Mark Prior and Kerry Wood waiting in Wrigley Field. That sounds great to the Marlins, who, with a different and season-ending result Sunday, would instead have chores waiting for them at home.

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

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