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The National League Championship Series (NLCS) was a Major League Baseball playoff series played from October 7 to October 15 to determine the champion of the National League, between the Central Division champion Chicago Cubs and the wild-card qualifying Florida Marlins. The Cubs, by virtue of being a division winner, had the home field advantage. The Marlins would go on to win the series in seven games, advancing to the World Series against the New York Yankees.


The two teams were victorious in the NL Division Series (NLDS), with the Cubs defeating the Eastern Division champion Atlanta Braves three games to two, and the Marlins defeating the Western Division champion San Francisco Giants three games to one.

The series is most remembered for events that unfolded in the top of the eighth inning of Game 6. Coming into the game, the Cubs had taken two out of the three games in Miami, with the final two games at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicagomarker. The Cubs also had their best two pitchers, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, slated to start the final two games. With the Cubs leading 3–0 and just five outs away from their first World Series since 1945, Steve Bartman, a fan, reached for a foul ball hit by Luis Castillo off Prior, preventing Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou from catching it. Castillo proceeded to walk and Prior and the Cubs never recovered from the incident. Aided by Castillo's walk and later an error by Cubs shortstop Alex S. Gonzalez on a potential double-play grounder, the Marlins went on to score eight runs in the inning and won the game 8–3. The Marlins went on to win Game 7 and then to defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Chicago manager Dusty Baker, who won the NL pennant in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants, fell short in his bid to become the first manager ever to take different teams to the World Series in consecutive years.


Chicago Cubs vs. Florida Marlins

Game summaries

Game 1

Tuesday, October 7, 2003 at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicago, Illinoismarker

The Marlins took Game 1 of the series, coming back from an early 4–0 deficit. They scored five runs in the third on three home runs from Juan Encarnacion, rookie Miguel Cabrera, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodríguez. In the sixth inning, down 6–4, the Cubs tied the game on an Alex S. Gonzalez home run off Josh Beckett. The game remained tied until the ninth where the Marlins took a two-run lead. With two outs and one on in the bottom of the ninth, Sammy Sosa hit his first postseason home run off Ugueth Urbina to tie the game and send the game into extra innings. In the top of the eleventh, pinch-hitter Mike Lowell hit a solo home run off Mark Guthrie that ultimately proved to be the game winner.

Game 2

Wednesday, October 8, 2003 at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicago, Illinoismarker

Game 3

Friday, October 10, 2003 at Pro Player Stadiummarker in Miami Gardens, Floridamarker

Game 4

Saturday, October 11, 2003 at Pro Player Stadiummarker in Miami Gardens, Floridamarker

Aramis Ramírez blasted a first inning grand-slam, the first in Cubs postseason history, and the Cubs cruised to an 8–3 victory putting them just one victory away from their first World Series in nearly sixty years.

Game 5

Sunday, October 12, 2003 at Pro Player Stadiummarker in Miami Gardens, Floridamarker

With the Marlins facing elimination, Josh Beckett kept them alive by dominating the Cubs, holding them to just two hits and one walk as part of his standout 2003 postseason. The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer. Iván Rodríguez and Jeff Conine homered in the seventh and eighth innings respectively. Even with the loss, the Cubs looked good going back home with their two aces, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood ready to start Games 6 and 7.

Game 6

Tuesday, October 14, 2003 at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicago, Illinoismarker

The Cubs held a 3–0 lead going into the top of the eighth inning in Game 6 and, after Mike Mordecai hit a high pop fly to left field for the first out of the inning, had only two outs left in the inning—leaving the team a mere five outs away from their first World Series berth since 1945.

Prior had retired the last eight hitters and had allowed only three hits up to that point. Center fielder Juan Pierre (who was later traded to the Cubs) then hit a double off Prior to get to second base.

On the eighth pitch of his at bat, Luis Castillo hit a high foul ball toward the left field wall. Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou (a former Marlin) headed toward the stands to catch the ball for the potential second out. As Alou reached for the ball, Cubs fan Steve Bartman, along with others near the area, did the same. The ball bounced off Bartman's hand and into the stands. Though the Cubs pleaded for a call of fan interference, the umpire ruled that the ball had left the field of play and was therefore up for grabs.

As a result, Castillo remained an active batter at home plate. On the next pitch, Prior walked Castillo with a wild pitch that got away from catcher Paul Bako, also allowing Pierre to advance to third base.

Next, Iván Rodríguez hit an 0–2 pitch hard into left field, singling and scoring Pierre. Miguel Cabrera then hit a ground ball toward Cubs shortstop Alex S. Gonzalez that could have ended the inning on a double play. Gonzalez, who led all NL shortstops in fielding percentage, closed his glove too early and the ball landed in the dirt, allowing Cabrera to get on base, loading the bases. On the next pitch, Derrek Lee (a future Cubs All-Star) drilled a double into left field, scoring Castillo and Rodríguez to tie the game at 3–3.

Prior was then taken out of the game and replaced by Kyle Farnsworth, who intentionally walked Mike Lowell to load the bases. Jeff Conine then hit a sacrifice fly to right field for the second out of the inning, allowing Cabrera to score from third and the other runners to each advance one base. This gave the Marlins their first lead of the night. Farnsworth intentionally walked Todd Hollandsworth (another future Cub) to once again load the bases.

The Marlins now having batted around the order, Farnsworth faced Mike Mordecai, who was looking to make up for his earlier out. This time, Mordecai prevailed, hitting a base-clearing double to left-center field, allowing Lee, Lowell and Hollandsworth to score and making it a 7–3 Marlins lead.

Farnsworth was then taken out of the game and replaced by Mike Remlinger, who gave up a single to Pierre to score Mordecai from second base. Finally, Luis Castillo hit a high pop fly ball to shallow right field for the third out.

The Marlins' lead held, forcing a final Game 7.

Game 7

Wednesday, October 15, 2003 at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicago, Illinoismarker

The Marlins got off to a quick 3–0 lead in the first inning against Cubs pitching ace Kerry Wood, who hadn't lost at Wrigley Field in nearly six weeks. The Cubs responded by tying the ball game 3–3 in the second inning, which featured a two-run home run by Wood. Moisés Alou's two-run home run the following inning put Chicago up 5–3, but the lead wouldn't last. In the fifth inning, Florida capitalized on a pair of walks and scored three runs to go on top 6–5, a lead they would not relinquish. The Marlins added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to expand their lead to 9–5. Cubs pinch-hitter Troy O'Leary hit a home run the bottom of the seventh, making the score 9–6. After the Cubs were retired in order in the eighth inning, Florida closer Ugueth Urbina hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to lead off the ninth inning and proceeded to retire the following three batters, giving the Marlins their second National League Pennant in their eleven-year existence.

Composite box

2003 NLCS (4–3): Florida Marlins over Chicago Cubs

Series quotes

All quotes are by Thom Brennaman.

Eighth inning of Game 6

Game 7


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