They entered the ninth inning with a three-run lead.
They were one out from victory.
And then they collapsed.
After an error by shortstop Starlin Castro, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied for five runs in the ninth to beat the Cubs 7-5 Wednesday.
"That one finished not like we would have wanted, obviously," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "It seemed like the inning kept opening up, and we weren't able to end up in the end putting a stop to it."
Martin Prado hit a two-run single off Pedro Strop (0-2), Miguel Montero had a tying single against James Russell and Aaron Hill followed with a two-run triple off Justin Grimm.
The beloved ballpark, the second-oldest in the major leagues behind 102-year-old Fenway Park in Boston, opened on April 23, 1914, when the Federal League's Chicago Federals beat the Kansas City Packers 9-1.
Fans sang "Happy Birthday" in the middle of the fifth inning Wednesday. The Cubs wore Federals' uniforms, and the Diamondbacks wore Kansas City Packers' threads.
The Cubs moved into the Friendly Confines in 1916, after the Federal League folded, and have established a tradition of beloved losers. The Cubs' only World Series titles came in 1907 and '08, when they played at the West Side Grounds, and they haven't even reached the World Series since 1945.
Still, the Cubs are 4,076-3,621 (.530) during the regular season at Wrigley, according to STATS, and 7-20 in the postseason. Chicago failed in its bid to win three straight games for the first time since last July 26-28.
"Big day out there. You want to show up, have a good turnout for the fans and former players in the crowd," Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija said.
Before a crowd of 32,323 — about 9,000 under capacity — the Cubs led 5-2 in the ninth. Strop walked Chris Owings on four pitches and Castro allowed Tony Campana's grounder to kick off his glove for an error. Castro tried to keep his left leg on second as he retrieved the ball, and second base umpire Brian O'Nora called the sliding Owings safe — a decision confirmed by the replay umpire in New York.
Pinch-hitter Eric Chavez walked on a full count, loading the bases, and Gerardo Parra struck out. Prado's bouncer up the middle bounded off second base, eluding second baseman Darwin Barney and kicking into short right-center field as the Diamondbacks closed to 5-4. Strop struck out Paul Goldschmidt for the second out.
Montero fouled off a 2-2 pitch, took a ball, and then lined a tying single to right. Hill blooped a ball down the right-field line and Justin Ruggiano injured his left hamstring as he tried for a sliding catch near the foul line and the bullpen mound. He needed assistance to leave the field and was replaced by Ryan Kalish.
Samardzija allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings and is winless in 11 starts since beating San Diego on Aug. 24. He was supported by Ruggiano's two-run homer in the sixth and a three-run fifth.
Trevor Cahill (1-4) pitched two scoreless innings for Arizona, which ended a four-game losing streak, and Addison Reed got his fourth save as the Cubs went quietly in a 1-2-3 ninth.
That gave the Diamondbacks gome good news on a day when they learned outfielder Mark Trumbo will be out an undetermined amount of time with a stress fracture in his left foot. Trumbo has felt plantar fasciitis since spring training.
"The plantar (fasciitis) at times has been pretty bad but manageable," Trumbo said. "That's what you have to do. You've got to earn a living and play. This was to the point where I severely had to compensate running-wise to the point where I probably wouldn't be much of an asset on either side."
Arizona starter Wade Miley gave up five runs — three earned — and four hits in five innings.
"I think we're going to continue to be the Kansas City Packers," Miley said. "We're the Packers now."
Even dressed as another team, the Cubs were still the Cubs.
NOTES: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said "it would be great, no question about it" if the Cubs were competitive. He also said replay review has "done great" and added that he's not reconsidering his decision to retire after the season. He also confirmed that baseball is working on an interpretation of the transfer rule. ... Ryan Dempster, who was at Wrigley Field for the 100th anniversary festivities, said joining MLB Network as an analyst is the best thing for him to do right now. Dempster didn't rule out returning to the field. ... Results of Ruggiano's MRI will be known Thursday. ... Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta is to make his fifth — and what the team hopes is final — minor league injury rehabilitation start Saturday for Double-A Tennessee. ... Arizona OF A.J. Pollock (neck stiffness) didn't start but pinch ran in the ninth.
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