The defending National League champions had lost their manager, Dusty Baker, to Chicago in the offseason and Felipe Alou was now in charge. Alou had Jim Brower starting. Baker started the often hot-tempered Zambrano.
The Cubs, perched in third in the NL Central behind Houston and St. Louis, went right to work on Brower. Center fielder Kenny Lofton led off with a single. Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek reached on a bunt single. And right fielder Sosa doubled home Lofton with Grudzielanek going to third. Left fielder Moises Alou doubled to score Grudzielanek and Sosa. Alou went to third on a ground out by first baseman Eric Karros, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But shortstop Alex Gonzalez walked and catcher Damian Miller singled in Ramirez with the Cubs fourth run.
In the fifth, the Giants loaded the bases for Bonds. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba singled and second baseman Ray Durham and shorstop Rich Aurilia walked to load the bases. After center fielder Marquis Grissom flied out to shallow center, Zambrano got Bonds to line out back to the box to end the inning. Zambrano pumped his arms and shouted in jubilation as the inning ended. Meanwhile Bonds fumed and complained after the game that the 22-year old Zambrano was not showing him enough respect.
The Cubs added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Karros to score Grudzielanek, who had singled, stolen second and moved to third on an error by Torrealba.
The Giants finally scored in the sixth. First baseman Andres Galarraga singled and third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo homered.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jason Christensen came in to pitch for San Francisco. Gonzalez and Miller singled and Lofton walked to load the bases. Christiansen then threw a wild pitch to score Gonzalez and bring in Matt Herges. Grudzielanek grounded to Aurilia who threw out Miller at the plate. Apparently still upset about something, Christensen was tossed from the game by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Herges didn't seem to react well to the delay as he gave up a 3-run homer to Sosa to make it 9-2 Cubs.
The Giants scored twice more in the eighth. Jose Cruz scored left fielder Tom Hammonds (who had replaced Bonds) with a ground out and Zambrano would balk home Galarraga. Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for the Cubs.
Sosa's homer was his 13th in the month of July and 23rd overall. Sosa had missed half of May after being suspended for using a corked bat. Arizona first baseman Mark Grace would taunt Sosa on a trip to Wrigley in June by taking batting practice with a wine cork taped to his bat. Sosa was not amused.
The Giants would win the NL West easily in 2003. They finished with a 100-61 record and beat the Dodgers by 15 1/2 games. The Cubs were able to parlay a 19-8 September to vault over Houston and St. Louis for first place, although with just an 88-74 record.
Both teams would lose in the playoffs to eventual World Series champion Florida. The Giants lost in the Division Series in four games to the Marlins and the Cubs lost a seven-game NLCS that was out of Dickens or Tolstoy.
Bonds would win the MVP for the third straight time. He hit 45 home runs and had an OBP of .529 and OPS of 1.278 thanks to 148 walks, 61 of them intentional.
Kerry Wood of the Cubs led the league in strikeouts with 266. Mark Prior went 18-6 with a 2.11 ERA. And at no time has three years seemed so distant to Cubs fans of today.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, Chicago Tribune