10/14/2003 11:00 PM ET
Improbable rally forces Game 7
CHICAGO -- Game 7 is necessary.
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
The Florida Marlins removed the if from that detail Tuesday night with an amazing rally from the jaws of elimination.
With the Chicago Cubs five outs from a trip to the World Series as young ace Mark Prior worked on a stylish four-hit shutout, the Marlins erupted for eight runs and an 8-3 triumph.
They evened the National League Championship Series at 3-all with some clutch hitting, some tenacious pitching and, yes, some more of that Cubs curse.
Chicago can still defeat the hex that has kept it out of the World Series since 1945. The role of ghostbuster now befalls Kerry Wood, who will face Florida left-hander Mark Redman in Wednesday night's finale.
But the Cubs can no longer deny it.
Not after the Marlins' stunning eighth-inning rally was aided by a fan's attempted snare of Luis Castillo's one-out foul down the left-field line, a ball Moises Alou was about to catch. Castillo ended up walking to load the bases, setting up Pudge Rodriguez's single for the Marlins' first run.
Not after Miguel Cabrera's nice and easy grounder to shortstop hit a divot and took a right turn on shortstop Alex Gonzalez, clanking off his glove for an error.
Not after Prior's seven innings of utter domination turned into his loss.
A two-run double by Derrek Lee and later a bases-clearing double by pinch-hitter Mike Mordecai turned it into a Marlins laugher -- and Cubs tearjerker.
Juan Pierre, whose one-out double had begun the uprising, singled to score Mordecai with the inning's eighth run.
Fans who only minutes earlier had been whopping and hollering in anticipation of a Cubs triumph streamed into the streets shaking their heads and wailing. They were not cursing. Perhaps they felt they had already seen enough of that on the field.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.