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Cubs left trying to grasp collapse

CHICAGO — Now, it's an even 100 years for the Cubs.

The team that posted the best record in the National League is picking up the pieces again after three horrendous performances that resulted in a sweep by the Dodgers in the division series.

A century and counting since their last World Series championship.

"I don't have the answers, we didn't play well," INF Mark De-Rosa said. "This is the best team I've ever played on my entire career and for three games we didn't give ourselves a chance. We kicked the ball around the field, we didn't hit, we put too much pressure on our pitchers to come through. We never made them get on the defensive."

There was so much promise when this postseason began. Now, there's so much pain, plus a dose of uncertainty.

The Cubs led the Central or shared the lead from May 11 on, clinched on Sept. 20 and went 97-64, the most wins for this franchise since 1945, the last year it reached the World Series.

Along with potential roster moves, there's another important issue: The Tribune Co. still is trying to sell the team and Wrigley Field. But no one was talking about next year, last year or the prior 99 years on Saturday night.

There was not a lot of talk at all after the Dodgers finished with a 3-1 win. The big screen TVs were off. There was no shortage of sullen faces around the clubhouse.

"It's just disappointment, you work so hard for so long and it's over," 1B Derrek Lee said. "We feel like we are a much better team than we showed."

The Cubs bats were quickly being packed. Chicago was outscored 20-6 in the series.

"Let me tell you this, you can play postseason baseball for now to another 100 years, but if you score six runs in a three-game series, it's going to be another 100 years before we win," manager Lou Piniella said. "We just didn't hit; you have to score runs. We had opportunities and you have to take advantage of them. This is six games I managed now in the postseason and we have scored just 12 runs. That doesn't get it done."

Alfonso Soriano, who went 1-for-14 in the series, seemed more defiant than humbled by the sweep.

"We have the best team in the league and we struggle in the playoffs," he said. "We did not play good, like a team. That's the reason we didn't win."

DODGERS READY: In the midst of the Dodgers' wild champagne celebration, a dripping Manny Ramirez had a message for future postseason opponents.

"We did it once," the dreadlocked slugger screamed. "Believe me, we can do it again."

The way they dominated the long-suffering Cubs, the Dodgers certainly appear to have what it takes to beat anyone, starting with the Phillies in the NL Championship Series.

"We had nothing to lose," Ramirez said. "We got in and we were underdogs, now we're going to the second round.

"It doesn't matter if you're the underdog or the favored team. But we don't want to peak too soon. The key is to go to the big dance."

The Dodgers and Phillies open the best-of-seven NLCS on Thursday in Philadelphia.

CC AT THE BAT: Brewers LHP CC Sabathia struck out as a pinch-hitter in the third inning against the Phillies. He batted for starter Jeff Suppan and got a standing ovation with Milwaukee trailing 5-0.

WEEKS HAS TEAR: Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks tore cartilage in his left knee and was replaced on the postseason roster with top prospect Alcides Escobar. Weeks will need surgery, which has not been scheduled.

Cubs left trying to grasp collapse 10/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 11:53pm]
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