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Relievers, DeWitt key unlikely comeback

7/8/2011

WASHINGTON -- After the Chicago Cubs scored nine straight runs, wiping out an eight-run deficit, manager Mike Quade, the eternal optimist, turned out to be more soothsayer than dreamer in his pregame conversation with the media.

"I believe we can turn this thing around, and I believe it can start today," Quade said before the game.

Quade was enthused about hearing that Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano are on their way back to the mound after injuries and ailments forced them to miss their last starts. However, Quade had no idea that he was in for a game in which his team, trailing 8-0 through four innings, would rally to escape with a 10-9 victory over the Washington Nationals.

"Character has never been in short supply around here," Quade said after the game. "Now we need to take some of that character and put it toward some good, intelligent baseball."

Darwin Barney's RBI double in the ninth inning was the game-winning hit after Washington tied the game 9-9 in the eighth off Sean Marshall.

"Down 8-0 it's real easy to roll over," Barney said. "But it starts with the [relievers]. They kept us in the game, and we responded to Washington's big inning with one of our own."

The game appeared out of reach in the second inning as the Nationals put eight straight hitters on base against Matt Garza, who departed for the second-shortest start of his career.

"I didn't want to come out after the second inning," Garza said. "Our bullpen guys are pretty beat up. They showed how they do it and what they can do."

The bullpen allowed just two runs in seven innings and three runs in 12 innings over the past two games.

In the comeback win the Cubs equaled the nine unanswered runs they scored in 2008 against the Colorado Rockies. Their biggest comeback win was from a nine-run deficit in 1989 against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field.

Blake DeWitt's three-run homer brought the Cubs within 8-6 and knocked out Livan Hernandez, who had cruised through five inning with a four-hit shutout.

"In that situation you're just looking for a pitch to put a good swing on," DeWitt said. "Pinch-hitting is tough, and all you can do is look for a pitch and put a good swing on it."

Barney's game-winner came with two outs in the ninth, but he pointed to DeWitt's homer as the key to the improbable win.

"That was huge for us," Barney said. "After the swing he put on the ball, there were 24 other guys going crazy and being happy. I knew we were back in the ballgame. At that point you're down by two, and you're a bloop and a bomb away from a tie."

Carlos Pena did just that, tying the game with a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Aramis Ramirez's eighth-inning RBI gave the Cubs their first lead at 9-8.

The Cubs last scored double digits June 16 in a 12-7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.