CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The
' collapse is complete.
The Cubs squandered a four-run lead and were eliminated from the National League wild card race with an 8-6 loss to the
Already on life support entering the game, the Cubs built a 6-2 lead after five innings on the strength of homers by
But the Cubs (88-73) watched
- their most consistent starter this season - and the bullpen give away another game.
"I am not used to seeing my teams play like this down the stretch," Cubs manager
"I think everyone believed in each other and thought we would be in the postseason, but as we stand here today we know that won't happen and that's tough," said Cubs shortstop
, who pumped energy into the team when he was acquired in a four-club deal at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Zambrano, who earlier in the day was named NL Pitcher of the Month for September, gave up three runs in the sixth before the combination of
allowed three in the eighth.
One of the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series, the Cubs completely fell apart down the stretch. They have lost five straight and seven of their last eight games.
Houston, San Francisco or Los Angeles will represent the NL as the wild card.
Last season, the Cubs ended the Braves season when they won Game Five of the NL Division Series in Atlanta.
(3-2) worked a scoreless inning for the win and
struck out the side around a walk in the ninth for his 44th save.
Atlanta, which already has wrapped up home-field in the Division Series, received a scare in the fifth when
was hit in the right hand with a pitch. He was diagnosed with a contusion.
"It's OK, I think it's just a bruise," Jones said. "I just won't play tomorrow."
The Braves also received some bad news when starter
was forced to leave after three innings with a strained muscle in his right side.
"I don't think it's that bad," Thomson said. "Doc says it should go away in a couple of days."
After Alou hit a two-run homer and Ramirez followed with a solo shot in the fifth, the Braves began their comeback in the sixth.
Zambrano got the first two outs of the inning before
hit his 10th homer, pulling the Braves within 5-3.
kept things going with a single and
's double plated him.
' run-scoring single chased Zambrano in favor of former Brave
, who retired J.D. Drew to end the inning.
Gledon Rusch and
worked through the seventh, but Farnsworth and Remlinger, another former Brave, were unable to do the job in the eighth.
opened the eighth with a single and, after Furcal popped out, Giles singled to chase Farnsworth.
Drew greeted Remlinger by ripping a triple up the gap in right-center field, giving Atlanta a 7-6 lead.
followed with a sacrifice fly.
Four of the losses by the Cubs in the last week have been charged to the bullpen.
"We did put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get the job done," Cubs catcher
said. "It's frustrating that we didn't get it done and next week we will be home watching the playoffs."