Cubs lose, will have to wait to clinch

CHICAGO The Cubs could have clinched the NL Central Division title if they beat the Cardinals Friday afternoon if the Milwaukee Brewers also lost their game Friday evening.

The magic number remains at two. That means any combination of Cubs wins and Brewers losses would clinch the division Chicago's National League club.

It was real exciting in Wrigleyville until the first inning, when Carlos Zambrano fell apart, giving up a grand slam. Since then it's been pretty quiet, but Cubs optimism is still alive and well.

Scott Doherty was hoping to catch a Soriano home run Friday afternoon -- and watch his Cubs clinch the NL Central. He's going to have to wait at least one more day, but he's confident it will happen before the series with the Cardinals is over.

"I'd rather have them clinch on the field, so LaRussa and those guys can watch us celebrate on the field," said Doherty.

Cubs fans arrived at the Friendly Confines Friday ready to see a win over their arch-enemies. Instead it was Cardinals' batting practice for the first half of the game.

Fans were awfully quiet inside Harry Caray's during the game. Nevertheless, Cubs optimism is alive.

"There's still hope, they're going to make it. One year," said Sonia Morales, Cubs fan.

"They're going to clinch. You can't talk like that. You have to stay optimistic. They're going to clinch," said Maria Lule, Cubs fan.

As disappointing as Friday's game was, Cubs fans say they expected a tough fight from St. Louis.

"Even though they're 11 games out, they always give the Cubs a good run. No matter who's in first or who is in last, it's always a good series to watch," said Mike Scelonge, Cubs fan.

Pending an unprecedented collapse by the Cubs, fans are preparing for the playoffs. Fans had until noon Friday to register for a chance to purchase National League Division Series tickets. Cubs fans are pretty sure their team will be there.

"I'm hoping the Brewers lose today and they'll clinch tomorrow, so it ought to be a good weekend," said Laura Scelonge, Cubs fan.

Sometime this weekend, the Cubs are doing what they call a random drawing. The winners will be notified Monday and the tickets for the playoffs will go on sale starting Tuesday. First things first, though, they have to take care of the Cardinals.

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