Matt Murton scampered home from third on a wild pitch from Philadelphia closer Brett Myers in the bottom of the ninth, and the Cubs grabbed a first-place tie with Milwaukee in the National League Central following a 5-4 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
Murton led off the ninth with a bloop to left field that eluded a diving Jayson Werth, allowing Murton to take second. Murton went to third on Myers' first wild pitch of the inning while pitching to Ronny Cedeno -- who was attempting to sacrifice Murton to third. Myers then walked Cedeno and Jacque Jones intentionally to load the bases. Myers struck out Jason Kendall, then with a 1-1 count to pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd, Myers uncorked another wild pitch to the backstop, bringing home Murton.
"[The game] had ebbs and flows all over the place," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I told some of my pitchers in the dugout by the eighth inning I'd had enough fun for one evening."
"That last pitch was a split," Myers said, referring to the wild pitch to Floyd. "I thought that was the best pitch to try and get Cliff out right there, but he didn't swing at it and it got past [Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz]. Nine times out of 10, Carlos blocks that ball. It was a freaky game from the beginning."
Once again, it was the bullpen that stood tall for the Cubs, getting 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief from Scott Eyre, Carlos Marmol, Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster.
It was an up-and-down night for Cubs starter Rich Hill. He escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first, allowing just one run, then pitched three shutout innings before getting chased in the fifth after giving up a 4-1 lead. Overall, he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering three earned runs on eight hits, while walking three and striking out five.
"We've got to start getting more out of our starting pitchers," Piniella said. "We might have to go to 13 pitchers before this thing is over. Don't think we haven't talked about it.
"Our bullpen has been used a lot and we didn't want any extra innings if we could help it."
A Brewers 8-5 loss to the Mets earlier in the evening opened the door for the Cubs to pull into a first-place tie with their neighbors from Wisconsin.
But as the skipper has preached continuously during the team's recent run of success, "what's important is to be in first place the last day of the season. Right now, it looks good.
"I'm just pleased the way that these kids are playing," Piniella said. "They're giving everything they got.
"[The media] makes too much out of first place. We've played good baseball to be where we're at, but there's so much baseball to be played."
Despite another taxing night for Chicago's relievers, Piniella says he'll fight the temptation to activate Kerry Wood on Thursday, as opposed to the Friday date that was announced before Wednesday's game.
"It's a temptation to get [Wood] out there tomorrow," Piniella said. "He pitched an inning and two-thirds on Tuesday. Let's give him two nice days off; let's get him nice and fresh, feeling strong, and we'll bring him in when the Mets are in town and go from there."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.