If you're looking for a game that will be interesting for more than two innings, perhaps you've come to the right place. Carlos "Capital Zed" Zambrano and Chad "Nickname Withheld" Billingsley will pitch. Guys like Ryan Theriot and Casey Blake will be hitting and fielding. Nasally-sounding Hall of Famers like Tony Gwynn will be in the booth analyzing. And Viewers Like You will be jumping for your lives. * * *Bottom 9th 10

3Well, the final inning — or at least the Cubs' first four batters — was like trying to give the massage parlor customer a happy ending after castrating them with rusty surgical equipment. Why torture a team like that? Just let them strike out or ground out quietly and send the series to LA where no one will notice Chicago will be swept. Oh well. Really painful games all night. So much for belief in the NL Central. If you go to bed tonight and still hear a nonstop influx of booing, you'll know why. Thanks for persistently refreshing, gang. 12:49 — After working a full count and fouling off a couple pitches, Ward strikes out on a seemingly-low ball. The fans are outraged — OUTRAGED! — that it wasn't a walk to load the bases and give them hope that maybe the seven-run lead was still manageable. ESPN's Gamecast takes a stand on Pitch No. 7:

12:44 — Fukudome mystically watches strike three go right by him, and with two outs, the strange rally is almost over. And how much stranger could it end but with Daryle Ward at the plate. 12:43 — The booing just grew some more. I think that out finally woke people up from a delightful ether nap. 12:42 — Pow, Soto hits a screamer over Angel Berroa's head, but not so high that Berroa can't jump and make the catch. And he does. That's why he won Rookie of the Year all those years ago. One out. 12:40 — I still hear booing. Stop that, Bill Murray! It's not ironically funny! 12:39Pie Jesu domine. Felix eamus catuli. Pie walks to first, continuing this bizarre inning of hope. 12:37 — Torre has had enough of Takashi Saito's mop-up work. Time for Jonathan Broxton's mop-up work. Felix Pie will pinch hit. 12:34 — A granule-sized portion of karma rights itself when DeRosa doubles after all over Kemp's coconut. Two runs are in, and the game score looks less sadistic. 12:33 — Chicago's last hope of a rally falls by the wayside as Chan Ho Park stops warming up in the bullpen. 12:32 — Ooh, DeRosa's ball down the left field line is called foul, but the replay shows a bit of white grass being disturbed. Clearly this will make a difference in the outcome of the game. 12:30 — It's not so much twisting the knife anymore, but it's more of a refusal to pull it back out. Aramis Ramirez singles to left and Lee prances to third, setting up a "yeah right" rally. 12:29 — Ah, yes, that'll do. False hope. Lee's hit rolls into the ivy, and Pierre and Kemp try to start the wave in left center. Or they just want to show everyone they don't want to try and get the ball, because thene Lee could advance to third, and THEN they'd be in big trouble! Between Innings I'm just imagining the ways this game can get worse for the Cubs. (It will get worse.) Will someone get injured? Will Lou Piniella get ejected? Maybe Dusty Baker will be named manager for Game 3. It's too early to predict. Top 9th 12:24 — Now even Angel Berroa is getting base hits. The incessant "boo" has turned into what I think is Cubs fans stabbing each other with toothpicks and switchblades to ease the pain of watching the action on the field. 12:23 — Yet another case of wanton double digitry. The tenth run steps in as Blake's ball back up the middle gives Juan Pierre another run. 12:20 — Just when they were out of the inning, Theriot heaves a throw to first that instead bounces away from Derrek Lee and behind the tarp. As TBS points out, everyone in the infield has an error. Hey, why not play favorites? 12:17 — As Loney flies out to Fukudome, TBS points out Ron Santo calling the game on the radio, and how this game "must be killing him." Oh, and here I thought it was the diabetes. But it's playoff futility. How foolish of me! Bottom 8th 9

112:13 — Oh by the way Theriot grounded out harmlessly. 12:11 — Ha! After the second out, TBS gives a kiss on the cheek to one of its sponsors — some liquor, I think — reminding everyone to "drink responsibly." Cubs fans couldn't get timelier advice, I think. 12:09 — Wade will continue to stay on the mound and run around in an inner-tube being scared of things around the farm ... oh wait, wrong Wade. Pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot grounds out for Carlos Marmol, which is silly, because Marmol could have done that himself. Top 8th 12:06 — It probably warrants mentioning that "This Year's Joba," Carlos Marmol, is the guy who strikes out Andre Ethier after allowing those two runs. Poor guys. Look at them. You just want to reach into your pockets and see if you have a spare run to toss into their guitar case. 12:04 — Silly, Jim Edmonds, you're supposed to dive backwards, not forwards! Manny Ramirez's bloop single plates Furcal, and with a 9-1 lead the game has become that one scene from Schindler's List, only not as racist, but equally genocidal. 12:02 — Hey, so much for bringing trailing only by six anymore. Blake reaches base, gets to second somehow and scores on Furcal's not-a-bunt-single single. Between Innings Remember when you would watch Nick at Nite and there would be classic TV shows that never aired when you were alive? And now today it's shows like Nick At Nite and freakin Scrubs? That's how I feel right now with a TBS baseball studio with Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken and Curtis Granderson. Bottom 7th 7

111:58 — Now you can't weari Kosuke Fukudome shirts in Chicago workplaces either, but for different reasons. The rally dies with a lonely run scored. 11:54 — Cory Wade warms up on the mound as Cubs fans sing "Livin' On A Prayer" in a fit of non-irony. 11:51 — Everyone, wake up [bangs conveniently-placed gong with cooking spoon]. Geovany Soto just hit a base hit and there's dudes on the corners with two outs. Joe Torre is pulling Billingsley. You can pay attention now. I knew I wasn't a dummy for buying this gong. 11:50 — Salvation! Hallelujah! It Could Still Happen If You Disregard Much Of Reality! Edmonds shoots a double into the top of the ivy and Matt Kemp gets lost in the greenness. There's your first run. But it still sounds like they're booing. Maybe Wrigley Field just has naturally pessimistic acoustics. 11:49 — I'm not sure what to make of this. Mark DeRosa laces a 2-out double. Between innings Fan sign in a TBS montage: WRIGLEY FIELD: THIS IS BASEBALL SHANGRI-LA Really had to go to your B-level paradises to complete that acrostic, didn't you? Good thing playoff baseball isn't on ABC: WRIGLEY FIELD ALWAYS BASEBALL'S CHERNOBYL Seventh Inning Stretch Entertainment This was from last year's time period between the Cubs NL Central division and when they actually began playing baseball in the postseason. They got swept last year, remember, but clearly that won't happen this year!

Top 7th 11:41 — Aw, no more runs this inning. 11:41 — Aw, awesome! Another run! Football score joke! 11:38 — All right, a ground ball that could turn into a double play! We can finally get up and stre... aw, boooo, they didn't get it to first base in time. 11:36 — Well it's a good thing Cotts walked Mr. Ethier and not Zambrano. Now he tosses two more not-strikes to Loney before Larry Rothschild comes out to talk to him. Topic of discussion: there's so much air in those bags of potato chips. How come? 11:33 — Neal Cotts from the famed 2005 Chicago White Sox bullpen now gets to clean up a playoff game on the other side of Chicago. 11:31 — Seriously, this might be the most despondent sound I've ever heard from a sports audience. It's like they're slowly having their bone marrow drained by Sam Zell. Happiness emerges as Piniella yanks Zambrano from the mound after a walk, but for some reason you can still hear an "Oooooo" sound from half of the fans. 11:30 — Aw, I was kind of hoping Manny Ramirez approached the plate while riding an actual blue-colored bear. 11:28 — Ain't no way they're going to let Carlos Zambrano destroy the clubhouse so soon. He's still pitching. 11:27 — Another telling stat. The Cubs have been on base as many times as they've allowed an error. Bottom 6th 6

011:25 — Happiness reaches an all time "wah" as Theriot slaps a ground ball to second for Chicago's second straight 1-2-3 inning and getting 11 outs from their last 11 batters. 11:23 — There's your boo-age. Soriano swings and connects with nothing but vapor trails. Vapor trails, in the game of baseball, are worth zero points. 11:21 — Zambrano bounces out to Torgo, and you can just feel the Cubs fans emanating a perpetual "boo" or "ooh" or "meh" from the bleachers. Top 6th 11:18 — Ending the hardly-a-threat, Furcal turns the fastball into an out. He learned that one from Juan Pierre. 11:16 — Zambrano handles the bunt and throws to SECOND!? Really? They call him out, but Torgo looked the opposite of out, which is standing on second with his tongue sticking out, going "nyah nyah nyah!" But what do I know. The umpire was closer to the play than me. 11:14 — Hey, that'll help. Zambrano throw inside — so much, that Casey "Torgo" Blake gets himself a free base because it knicked him in the tummy. 11:13 — A chat with Lou Piniella. Synopsis: other than that second inning, Zambrano's thrown the ball very well. Also, they need runs. Wasn't aware of that last one. 11:11 — Barack Obama asks me what change means to me. To me, it means turning homeless people into COTTON CANDY! Whee!! Bottom 5th 6

011:08 — Why are the Cubs fans yelling "Fuuuuuuuuuuuukudome" after he struck out? You'd think they'd yell something else, like ... oh. 11:07 — Edmonds' long fly ball gets caught by Manny Ramirez right behind the ivy. And being goofy, he leans back into the ivy for a second. Ha! BECAUSE NOBODY EVER DID THAT BEFORE, THOSE BRAINLESS ROBOT LOSERS!! 11:06 — Tom Verducci brings the well-placed Groundhog Day reference. Kudos, writer-slash-sideline reporter! Top 5th 6

011:02 — Why, it's ... it's a Cubs-made double play! I mean, one they didn't hit into! That turned the fake-cheering into actual-cheering. All right, we're only down six! 11:00 — Time for a Cub-like visit to the mound. Topic of discussion: Why don't elevators have a way of un-pressing buttons for certain floors? 10:57 — Manny Ramirez pops a solo home run in the hopes of showing all those overstarched suit-wearing fogeys that it pays to think freely and be yourself. Maybe for Game 3 he'll sport the 80s sideways ponytail. 10:55 — Proving commercials can make anything happen, Ashton Kutcher figures out how to work a camera. Bottom 4th 5

010:53 — Ah, there's the double-out ball. DeRosa saves the inning from not featuring the minimum three batters. Now they can go back out and play stellar defense! 10:51 — Aramis Ramirez's turn. He trinkles a ground ball to short, but the double play gets aborted when Lee's slide breaks it up. Unfortunately, something looks broken in Lee's body as he hobbles back to the dugout. 10:50 — Or not. Lee hits it to left field, where hustling is for "squares." Manny permits it to bounce in front of him for the single. 10:49 — Up come Lee, Ramirez, and DeRosa this inning, who — as TBS points out — are the three guys who have errors in the game. So, 1-2-3 inning then? Top 4th 10:46 — The five-run deficit is successfully protected after Curly Z struck out Martin. 10:45 — Wow! That's a very long bunt! (Or maybe he actually swung.) Furcal singles to advance Billingsley to scoring position. 10:42 — Gick. Errormiss Ramirez. rears his bobbly head again, and Chad Billingsley will run the bases like nobody's business. 10:41 — They snuck in a probably-not-live interview with Joe Torre in the dugout. It's been said in so many metro sports newspaper columns before, but it needs to be said again: Torre seems so much more relaxed and in love with baseball again because Seinfeld never did a caricature of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. He wants more runs because the lead isn't safe with the wind blowing out. Maybe the bench coach should show him the Cubs' record in October and he can rethink his strategy. Bottom 3rd 5

010:36 — All the cheering in the world couldn't get Soriano or Theriot to drive in Zambrano. (Hell, that's a lot of "O" sounds. Too many to be squeezed into one part of America's Lineup. 10:32 — With one out, Carlos "Curly" Zambrano tries to milk a quality at bat, and Chad Billingsley can't see the strike zone. (He's got his eyes closed.) Zambrano eye-pokes his way to a walk. Top 3rd 10:26 — Three straight strikes on Matt Kemp gets the crowd into it. THIS IS THEIR YEAR! Okay now to score at least one run to be down by no more than four. 10:25 — Loney hits the ball to kinda-deep center field. For some reason, Jim Edmonds didn't stand in place for five seconds, then start running and make a great diving catch. 10:24 — It's a routine ball that was actually caught, Charlie Brown. Andre Ethier pops up to Theriot. Bottom 2nd 10:20 — Soto's the first rookie catcher to start the All-Star game in a while. Good for him! But he struck out to end the inning, so we're even. 10:18 — Making the Cubbies jealous, the left side of the Dodgers field converts two groundballs into outs. Top 2nd 5

010:13 — Zambrano gets the final out by K'ing Mr. Ramirez, and I'm sure he's pleased with how that inning went. 10:09 — It's gonna happen. You guessed it, a three-run double for Russ Martin. These five-run second innings sure are popular to-nite. Let's take a look at a picture from Wrigley Field sent to us by a Deadspin reader:

10:07 — Furcal sure at his Hustle-A-Roni this morning (Juan Pierre had a full unopened can in his locker) and bunts his way to a single, beating DeRosa's throw by a half-step. One more run for LA. 10:06 — Chad Billingsley is no Brett Myers, and strikes out quickly. 10:05 — Likewise, the non-scrappy part of the infield defense comes through as Derrek Lee gets charged an error on a routine ball to himself. Carlos Zambrano seems to be in a delicate situation with the bases loaded:

10:04 — The scrappy infield defense comes through as Mark DeRosa bobbles and throws wide to Theriot. Score one for the Avoiders. 10:01 — Carlos Zambrano looks to be in the early stages of Curly Howard fixing the bathbut in "A Plumbing We Will Go." Matt Kemp gets a serious brushback, but strikes out. Nyuk nyuk nyuk. 9:59 — James Loney, on the hit-and-run, hits the ball to where Theriot was running away from. To compensate, he tries to catch it with his bare hand, which gives him as much a chance to catch it than if Edger Renteria used his glove. The ball bounces into the outfield, Ethier moves to third, and there are bros on the corners for Matt Kemp. 9:58 — They suggest maybe stepping out of the box will disrupt Zambrano's rhythm, because little things set him off. Of course, Gwynn says that's why they're not stepping out. !?! Andre Ethier battles back from an 0-2 count to snack a base hit. NO-HITTER BROKEN UP! Bottom 1st 0

09:54 — A clear statement was stated in the first. "We will hit harmless fly balls to center field to blow scoring opportunities." Aramis Ramirez has written in the ivy. No more first inning. 9:51 — "The Cubs can make a statement in the first inning." And that statement is: "Well, it's been 100 seasons, what's another year? Derrek Lee whiffs out. 9:48 — Ryan Theriot hustled his little keyster off to strike out. If only more of you out there were more like Ryan Theriot. 9:46 — Billingsley's pitch trickles through catcher Russell Martin's legs. Heh. I said "trickle." Soriano takes second. 9:45 — I've always liked how Alfonso Soriano's swing looks cartoonish and two-dimensional from the behind-the-pitcher camera angle. But it got him a single, so I'm not really in a place to criticize. 9:45 — A cunning strategy by Lou Piniella. He's having Shane Victorino bat second. Top 1st 0

09:42 — "Zammy embodying Zammy" damn well better not catch on, but he does cause Ramirez to strike out the way a free spirit would. Inning done. 9:40 — "Manny was Manny." That was way close enough for the slam-dunk square that shares its name. 9:39 — And we're off. Zambrano gets ahead of Rafael Furcal (in life and in the count) then takes him out by fielding a Don Knotts-weak grounder. Still More Pregame 9:32 — God. If I wanted someone to narrate my life story, it would totally be Tony Gwynn.

Pre-Game Babble This looks like Chicago's chance to even the series, because Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter this year and Chad Billingsley's only as well known as his Wikipedia page. But if LA can steal this game as well? Hoh. Lee. Christ. (By the way, ESPN's scientific process of using stats, video games, and dreidels are calling for a Dodgers-Phillies NLCS. So why fight it?) People have asked me why I don't live blog the vice-presidential debate instead. Well, I just watched one blowout. I don't feel like covering another. Back to the board games. How's our quest for bingo? Well, not great after one broadcast. Perhaps the midnight air seeps into the broadcasters' brains and spills a few great gems. One can only hope: