Game over: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: The Sox had a chance. Sweeney singled with one out before Aviles reached on an error by Valbuena at third base.
Nava pinch hit and struck out looking. Podsednik was next and he walked to load the bases for Pedroia. He was ahead 2-and-1 in the count but eventually grounded into a force at third to end it.
Weak effort by the Sox, who were held to five hits by Ryan Dempster (3-3) and two relievers. Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2) had a shaky start, giving up three runs in the first two innings before settling down.
Sox have lost five of seven and eight of 11. The Cubs, who came in with the worst record in baseball, also had four hits. But that was enough.
Top of the 9th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Mark Melancon walked DeJesus. Soriano popped to short. DeJesus was then thrown out stealing before LaHair fanned.
Last chance for the Sox. They'll face Carlos Marmol.
Middle of the 8th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Sox go down in order against James Russell. They have four hits on the day, all singles and three of them on the infield.
Top of the 8th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Atchison retired the side in order, fanning two. Dempster (7 4 0 0 2 3) is done.
Atchison made a nice play on Campana. Ortiz fielded a slow grounder in the hole and flipped to the pitcher, who outraced the speedy outfielder to the bag.
Middle of the 7th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Punto pinch hit for Matsuzaka and walked. He stole second and went to third when Podsednik singled. Pedroia lined out to right field and slammed his helmet down.
Atchison in for Dice-K. Matsuzaka's line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 94 pitches, 62 strikes. No support from the offense.
Top of the 7th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Matsuzaka retired the side in order. He has set down eight straight and 13 of 14. But the offense has offered no support.
Middle of the 6th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Ortiz singled with one out. Youkilis and Salty then flied to center. Youkilis (3 for his last 33) hit the ball hard but Campana tracked it down in the gap. The teams have combined for seven hits.
Top of the 6th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: The Cubs went in order. Matsuzaka is an inning away from a quality start, believe it or not. He has thrown 86 pitches, however, and there is stirring in the Red Sox bullpen.
Middle of the 5th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Aviles reached on an error and stole second. After Dice-K struck out, Podsednik hit the ball hard back to the mound. Aviles, with nowhere to go, was caught off second. Podsedni stole second but Pedroia flied to right.
Top of the 5th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Matsuzaka (naturally) allowed another hit by Dempster. But that was it. He has settled down, retiring seven of the last eight batters he has faced.
Middle of the 4th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Ortiz reached on an error by Castro then the Sox went in order. They're getting two-hit. So much for any momentum carrying over from Wednesday.
strong>Top of the 4th: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Matsuzaka retired the side in order. Most amazing thing that happened in Chicago since Matthew Broderick played a kid in high school when he was 23.
Middle of the 3rd: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: The Sox went in order against Dempster.
Top of the 3rd: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0: Theo is getting the last laugh today. Dempster — yes, the pitcher — had a triple to right field with one out. It was a ball down the line that Gonzalez dove for and got past him. He then missed the cut-off man.
Campana grounded to shortstop with the infield in. But Disaster-K hit Castro with a pitch. DeJesus then singled in a run.
Matsuzaka is already up to 52 pitches.
Meanwhile, running Gonzalez out to right field is asking for trouble. He had shoulder surgery and he's diving for balls in a chewed-up outfield? It would be safer to dodge buses out in the street.
Middle of the 2nd: Cubs 2, Red Sox 0: Aviles singled with one out. Matsuzaka flied to center and carried his bat all the way first.
Top of the 2nd: Cubs 2, Red Sox 0: It was a classic Dice-K inning. Two runs on one hit and 28 pitches.
Campana walked (and stole second and third). Soriano (who's impossible to walk) walked, as did LaHair. Both with two outs. Valentine went to the mound. Dice-K then threw a get-me-over fastball to Clevenger and he dumped a two-run double down the line in left.
Franklin Morales starting warming up before Matsuzaka got the final out. This has to be the first time in years Theo has been happy to see Matsuzaka on the mound.
Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Cubs 0: Podsednik bunted for a single and Pedroia walked. The Sox were business.
Then they weren't. Gonzalez struck out, Ortiz grounded into a force at second and Youkilis (3 for 31) flied to right.
Pre-game: Good afternoon from Wrigley Field. It's sunny and hot and the beer sales from today alone should allow Theo Epstein to sign any free agent he wants.
It'll be one of Theo's acquisitions, Daisuke Matsuzaka, against the inevitably soon-to-be-traded Ryan Dempster.
Hang out here for updates all afternoon long. It's Friday, it's June and you're not going to get much work done anyway. We welcome your comments, too.