After a day of Cubs pitching miscues, reliever Shawn Camp froze with men on first and third and one out in a tied extra-innings game. He was quickly called on it -- a balk, said home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson -- and Giants catcher Hector Sanchez trotted home with the go-ahead run in what would end up being a wild 10-7 Giants victory on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
"My spike got a little caught and I froze up," Camp said afterward. "Usually when something like that happens, just ... freak incident. First time it's ever happened in my career, so nothing I can say about it."
Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro would both drive in runs in that 10th inning before all was said and done. But Camp was just the last in a line of Cubs hurlers who couldn't execute their roles in the series finale with San Francisco.
Even after a first-inning passed ball charged to catcher Dioner Navarro gave the Giants an early 1-0 lead, starter Edwin Jackson was gifted a 4-1 advantage thanks to a pair of two-run homers from Starlin Castro and former Giant Nate Schierholtz in the bottom of the first.
But while Jackson could afford to be aggressive -- his nine strikeouts were the most he's had since last Aug. 30 with the Nationals -- he floundered by the sixth inning, when he walked three of the first five batters he faced and uncorked two wild pitches (the second of which accounted for the Giants' third run).
Reliever Michael Bowden followed Jackson with one out in the inning, and fared even worse. The right-hander retired just two batters while allowing one hit and one walk -- in addition to throwing three more wild pitches.
Those five errant throws in the sixth inning set a Major League regular-season record, a feat matched only by Rick Ankiel's infamous outing (he threw all five) in the 2000 postseason.
"It's inexcusable to let your team down like that when you self-implode in an inning like that and not make an adjustment to regain control of your pitches," Jackson said. "I let a flaw pretty much detonate the inning and ruin the game."
But the Cubs were able to put all that behind them in the eighth, when they took advantage of Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt's own wildness. The lefty gave up a leadoff double to Anthony Rizzo before walking three of the next four hitters (one of them intentionally) before Alberto Gonzalez, who homered in the previous inning, hit a sacrifice fly to left to give Chicago a 7-6 lead.
The advantage would not stand up. With the Giants down to their last strike against Camp in the ninth, the righty hung a 2-2 slider to Hunter Pence that the outfielder deposited in the left-center field seats.
"I've made that pitch a thousand times in my career," Camp said. "It was just a hanging breaking ball, and he hits hanging breaking balls. In that situation, it just can't happen. It's unacceptable and it cost us the game."
"Until two strikes, I kind of was [trying to hit a home run]," Pence said. "And then with two strikes, I was just trying to see the ball as hard as I could. I know he's got the sneaky sinker, the backdoor sinker, that you have to protect [against], and he's got the really good slider. So I just tried to get low and be ready to hit early and see it as hard as I could."
Pence's blast evened the ballgame at 7 until the Giants took the lead for good in the 10th. After each team blew a save, Sergio Romo locked down his seventh of the year.
"That was as tough as any of them so far," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We've battled. Everybody's battled to the end. But we're just having trouble shutting a game down. Our bullpen just can't seem to finish off any games."