Cubs postseason skid reaches nine

Cubs playoff skid reaches nine

CHICAGO -- Forget breaking the World Series curse, lately the Cubs haven't scrounged a single victory in the playoffs.

The forlorn franchise has dropped nine straight postseason games since 2003, when the Marlins, aided by one Steve Bartman, came back from a 3-1 deficit to take the National League Championship Series. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers took turns sweeping the Cubs out of the NL Division Series the last two seasons.

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Chicago's latest loss to Los Angeles on Saturday night typified the recent October struggles. The league's top scoring team in the regular season managed one run, and its stars were unable to come through. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto went a combined 1-for-12.

In the nine losses, Ramirez is 3-for-32. After going 2-for-14 in the 2007 NLDS, Soriano finished 1-for-14 this postseason. Soto went a combined 3-for-17 the last two Octobers. Each player hit at least .280 the last two regular seasons, and all three had over 20 home runs as All-Stars in 2008. It hasn't just been these three, the whole offense crumbled under pressure. They scored 21 runs in the nine losses, including 12 in the last two sweeps.

Sometimes, the club ran into dominant pitching (see Josh Beckett, Brandon Webb). Other times, the defense struggled (see Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS and Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS). Even the club's usually reliable pitchers have fallen victim (Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood).

In 2003, 2007 and 2008, Cubs fans wanted to believe the drought would finally end. But maybe, just maybe, the curse has gotten stronger with loss after loss after loss.

CUBS POSTSEASON FUTILITY
Year
Record
Postseason
Outcome
1906 116-36
2-4
Lost WS to White Sox
1907 107-45
4-0-1
Won WS over Tigers
1908 99-55
4-1
Won WS over Tigers
1910 104-50
2-4
Lost WS to Athletics (Phi)
1918 84-45
2-4
Lost WS to Red Sox
1929 98-54
2-4
Lost WS to Athletics (Phi)
1932 90-64
0-4
Lost WS to Yankees
1935 100-54
2-4
Lost WS to Tigers
1938 89-63
0-4
Lost WS to Yankees
1945 98-56
3-4
Lost WS to Tigers
1984 96-65
2-3
Lost NLCS to Padres
1989 93-69
1-4
Lost NLCS to Giants
1998 90-73
0-3
Lost NLDS to Braves
2003 88-74
3-2
Won NLDS over Braves
3-4
Lost NLCS to Marlins
2007 85-77
0-3
Lost NLDS to D-Backs
2008 97-64
0-3
Lost NLDS to Dodgers

Here's how it all came crashing down:

1. Marlins 4, Cubs 0
2003 NLCS, Game 5
Sunday, Oct. 12
At Dolphin Stadium

Beckett picks up his first career postseason win with his first career postseason complete game, limiting the Cubs to two hits and one walk while striking out 11. Florida scored on homers by Jeff Conine, Mike Lowell and Ivan Rodriguez to cut Chicago's series lead to 3-2.

2. Marlins 8, Cubs 3
2003 NLCS, Game 6
Tuesday, Oct. 14
At Wrigley Field

Up 3-0, the Cubs were five outs away from their first World Series since 1945. Then Steve Bartman happened. Bartman came into contact with Luis Castillo's foul fly ball in the stands down the left-field line, and Moises Alou was unable to make a play. That incident ignited an eight-run Marlins eighth, sending the series to a Game 7.

3. Marlins 9, Cubs 6
2003 NLCS, Game 7
Wednesday, Oct. 15
At Wrigley Field

Perhaps still reeling from the previous night's undoing, Wood gave up three runs in the first. Though Chicago stormed to a 5-3 lead through three innings, Wood ceded three more in the fifth, and the Marlins never looked back for the decisive victory on their way to a World Series crown.

4. Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1
2007 NLDS, Game 1
Wednesday, Oct. 3
At Chase Field

Zambrano went toe-to-toe with Webb for six innings before exiting in a 1-1 tie. Mark Reynolds led off the seventh by homering off Carlos Marmol, Zambrano's replacement, who went on to give up Arizona's third run in the same inning. The Cubs mustered four hits, and Zambrano had the lone extra-base knock.

5. Diamondbacks 8, Cubs 4
2007 NLDS, Game 2
Thursday, Oct. 4
At Chase Field

Ted Lilly got rocked for six runs in 3 1/3 innings, plenty of support for starter Doug Davis. Geovany Soto put Chicago up, 2-0, with a second-inning home run, and Daryle Ward added a two-run double. It wasn't enough as the Cubs flew home facing a sweep.

6. Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 1
2007 NLDS, Game 3
Saturday, Oct. 6
At Wrigley Field

Arizona didn't waste any time pulling out the brooms. Chris Young homered on the game's first pitch, and Justin Upton added an RBI single off Rich Hill in the first. Hill lasted three innings. The Cubs went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and grounded into four double plays, unable to capitalize on Livan Hernandez's five walks.

7. Dodgers 7, Cubs 2
2008 NLDS, Game 1
Wednesday, Oct. 1
At Wrigley Field

Ryan Dempster picked a bad time to lose control. In 4 2/3, the converted closer handed out seven walks, three of which scored on James Loney's grand slam in the fifth. Meanwhile, Derek Lowe showcased the stuff of a playoff veteran, holding the hosts to a Mark DeRosa two-run homer.

8. Dodgers 10, Cubs 3
2008 NLDS, Game 2
Thursday, Oct. 2
At Wrigley Field

Four Cubs infielders committed errors. That doomed Zambrano as he gave up five runs in the second, four of which were unearned. The bats again fell silent, this time against young Chad Billingsley making his first career postseason start. Kosuke Fukudome's second straight 0-for-4 night sent him to the bench for Game 3.

9. Dodgers 3, Cubs 1
2008 NLDS, Game 3
Saturday, Oct. 4
At Dodger Stadium

Hiroki Kuroda blanked Chicago over 6 1/3 innings, while Rich Harden was touched up for two runs in the first. Derrek Lee went 3-for-4, but Alfonso Soriano (0-for-5) and Aramis Ramirez (0-for-3) could not come through. After finishing the regular season with the top record in the NL, the Cubs became the first team to be bounced from the playoffs.

Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.