10/05/08 1:33 AM ET
Cubs Short Hops: Game 3
Lee does what he can, but unable to keep season alive
By Nick Zaccardi / MLB.com
The Cubs couldn't string together enough hits for the third straight game and were swept out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
The normally calm Derrek Lee flipped his bat and slammed his helmet on the ground after striking out to end the fifth inning, a fitting summation of the Cubs' struggles against Hiroki Kuroda.
9 -- The Cubs have lost nine consecutive playoff games dating to 2003. Game balls
Lee laced two doubles, one to the right-field wall and one to the left-field wall. Unfortunately, nobody was on base when he got those knocks. Lee went 6-for-11 in the series but had no RBIs.
Fukudome came on in a double switch and singled in his first at-bat. In the field, he made a nice running catch on a Russell Martin pop fly in the seventh while playing center field.
Ward was Lou Piniella's go-to pinch-hitter in the regular season, and he proved clutch in his only at-bat on Saturday night. He singled home the Cubs' lone run in the eighth and was lifted for a pinch-runner.
Sense of October
Piniella was forced to insert Fukudome into the game as part of a double switch in the sixth. Fukudome had gone 0-for-8 in the first two games, losing his spot in the starting lineup. But the Cubs fell into desperation mode, down 3-0, and likely made the switch to keep star reliever Carlos Marmol in the game longer without coming up to bat.
4 AB, 3 H, 2 2B, 1 R
Comment: Lee doubled in the first, singled in the third and doubled in the eighth. While fellow sluggers Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano continued to struggle, Lee put together his second multi-hit game in a row.
1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 Ks
Comment: The left-hander struck out Andre Ethier, James Loney and Matt Kemp in the eighth.
"They say that sometimes the last game is the hardest to win." -- Piniella Next step
The Cubs go home and ponder how their 97-win season came crashing down so quickly in the playoffs. The curse reaches 101 years in 2009.
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.