SAN FRANCISCO — With no hard feelings between the opposing teams--the managers send each other Christmas cards, for goodness sakes--the National League playoffs took a different twist before Sunday's game.
It matched Chicago Cub vs. Chicago Cub.
Along one foul line was pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, reiterating that the pulled muscle in his left leg felt fine, and that he was ready to pitch Game 6 Wednesday night in Chicago, if the series goes that far.
Along the other foul line was Manager Don Zimmer, who said Sutcliffe had not recovered enough from the Game 3 injury to pitch in Game 6. Then Zimmer reminded everyone that Sutcliffe is not the manager.
"I don't know what the deal is," Sutcliffe said.
"Look at him," Zimmer said. "Today, I don't think he's ready to pitch."
Before Game 4, Zimmer was leaning toward either left-hander Paul Kilgus or right-hander Scott Sanderson for a potential Game 6. Sanderson did get in two innings Sunday night but could be ready.
Zimmer could also change his mind and go with Sutcliffe, who gave up three runs in six innings Saturday when the Giants won, 5-4. But one thing won't change.
Sutcliffe and Zimmer won't be exchanging phone numbers this winter.
"I'll be ready to go Wednesday, I was fine (Saturday)," Sutcliffe said. "But I guess I'll just pitch when the manager says I should pitch."
Zimmer: "That is why I'm the manager. If anybody else wants to make the decisions, they should be the manager."
Their problems stem from midseason. Sutcliffe said then that he was pitching with a sore shoulder aggravated when Zimmer asked his starters to work on three days' rest.
Zimmer thought Sutcliffe should quit complaining and either pitch or visit the trainer's room. He thought Sutcliffe was setting a bad example for the team's many young players, a point he emphasized during that time when a reporter asked him to cite Sutcliffe's leadership ability.
"No comment," Zimmer said.
Sutcliffe was more than happy to comment Sunday when asked if, by not letting him start Wednesday, Zimmer was trying to give him more rest.
"I don't why," Sutcliffe said. "He did it this way (three days' rest) in all of July."
Zimmer said that, among other problems with Sutcliffe Saturday, he didn't like the way the Cub starter looked like between pitches. He was referring to Sutcliffe's habit of circling the mound, rubbing his face, shaking his head and looking like a beaten pitcher.
"I thought we had broken him of that," Zimmer said. "Earlier this year in Atlanta, down in the bullpen, I took the ball from him and said, 'Watch me, I'm going to throw two pitches.'
"During those pitches, I stomped around the mound and did everything he does. He finally said, 'Do I really do that?' I said, 'Yes, and you are putting your infielders and outfielders to sleep.' "
Zimmer said Sutcliffe improved after that session.
"The next couple of starts, he worked quick and went right after the hitters," Zimmer said. "But Saturday that changed."
The Giants' likely Game 6 starter would be Don Robinson, who was credited with the victory Saturday after giving up one unearned run in 1 2/3 innings in a relief appearance.
Robinson has a sore right knee, but it is not as bad as Mike LaCoss' sprained left knee. LaCoss had to leave Saturday's game because of the injury, after giving up three runs in three innings. He was encouraged Sunday by a magnetic resonance imaging examination, which showed no structural damage to the knee. LaCoss' status is day to day.
A day after forgetting the count on a game-losing home run pitch, Cub reliever Les Lancaster was not making excuses.
"There was no reason for it, it cost me, and I have nobody to blame but myself," said Lancaster, who gave up a seventh-inning, two-run homer to Robby Thompson on a 2-and-0 pitch that he thought was a 3-and-0 pitch.
Lancaster said part of the problem was that he replaced Paul Assenmacher with the count already 1-and-0 on Thompson. The other problem was the scoreboard.
"I'm sure I knew what the count was when I came in," said Lancaster, 27, who has played parts of three big-league seasons. "But when I made my first pitch and looked at the scoreboard, I saw 3-and-0. I know it wasn't 3-and-0, but that's what I thought I saw.
"The catcher (Joe Girardi) didn't say anything to me, the umpire didn't say anything to me, but I still should have known."
Lancaster spoke hurriedly, like a man who couldn't wait to get back on the mound and redeem himself.
"I do, I want to get it out of my mind, and it's hard right now," Lancaster said. "I know I'll be harassed by the fans for it."
Not just them.
Said Zimmer: "Tomorrow I'm going to go out and buy one of those umpire's indicators and give it to him."
The Giants' Will Clark and the Cubs' Mark Grace continued to make this a series controlled by first basemen.
By going three for four with two runs scored, Clark tied an NLCS record for hits with 10 and runs with seven. He is batting .625 for the series with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
Grace went one for three with two RBI and briefly tied the NLCS record with eight RBI until the Giants' Matt Williams broke it one-half inning later with his game-winning homer. Grace is batting .642 with one homer.