The immutable law of averages, which seemed to favor the Cubs in Friday's marathon 14-inning victory over Arizona, came back to pay its respects to the visiting Diamondbacks on Saturday.
"As good as I felt [Friday] night, I feel just as bad today," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said after the Diamondbacks halted a six-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory before 40,304 at Wrigley Field.
It was hard to tell what annoyed the fans more: a late-inning gnat invasion or the latest Cubs' bullpen collapse.
"If it's the law of averages coming back to bite me right now, I don't know," Cubs closer Joe Borowski said after squandering a 3-2 lead in the ninth. "Whatever it is, I have to get out of it real quick and help this team win some games."
Cubs starter Shawn Estes had delivered one of his best outings of the season, tossing seven innings of four-hit ball.
Estes struck out eight, retired the first 11 batters and was undamaged save for solo home runs by Luis Gonzalez (No. 19) in the fourth and Junior Spivey (10) in the fifth.
"I'm happy with the way I threw. I gave my team a chance to win," Estes said after being denied a second straight victory. "I was throwing strikes and getting my breaking stuff over. Unfortunately, we didn't pull it out."
Estes left after seven innings and stood to get the win when Ramon Martinez singled home Kenny Lofton to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh. Lofton drew a two-out walk from Arizona starter Miguel Batista and stole second.
Mike Remlinger pitched a perfect eighth for the Cubs, but the game unraveled in the ninth.
Shortstop Alex Cintron reached Borowski for a leadoff home run to tie the game. Luis Gonzalez followed with an infield hit on a grounder behind second, hustling down the line to beat shortstop Alex Gonzalez's throw. After Shea Hillenbrand popped to second, Raul Mondesi lined a double to the gap in left-center to score Gonzalez with the go-ahead run.
Borowski, 19-for-23 in save opportunities, gave up two runs on three hits in 11/3 innings on Friday, but the Cubs rallied to win. Saturday's problem was an inability to put hitters away. He had Cintron in an 0-2 hole, but Cintron fouled off several pitches before hitting the game-tying homer on a 2-2 offering.
Mondesi, who came into the game hitting .143 in his return to the National League and was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Estes, also fouled off several before rifling a 1-2 pitch into the gap.
"I wish I could say I pitched like garbage the last two days," Borowski said. "The results haven't been what I wanted, but the pitches I've made haven't been bad. Unfortunately, you go through periods where you make good pitches and you still get hit.
"There are going to be days when I throw the ball right down the middle and the guy pops it up. Unfortunately, this comes at a horrible time because if we win right there we're in good momentum. Hopefully, [Sunday] we can go out and win this series."
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the first inning but failed to score. Lofton doubled home Paul Bako with the game's first run in the second, and Sammy Sosa's sacrifice fly to right in the fifth scored Estes, who had doubled.
Martinez represented the tying run when he lined a two-out double to left-center off Arizona closer Matt Mantei in the ninth, but Sosa tapped back to the mound to end it.
Martinez took over for Mark Grudzielanek in the sixth, after the Cubs' second baseman was hit on the right hand by a Batista pitch. Grudzielanek was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for X-rays, and the Cubs were awaiting the results.
"Whether you're up by one or you're up by three, you still have to go out there and do the job," Borowski said. "When it's a closer game there is a slimmer margin for error. But there are no excuses. When I go out there with a lead I have to shut them down. The last two days I pitched horrible."
Diamondbacks 4, Cubs 3