MIAMI—Florida ace Josh Beckett kept the cork in the champagne bottles in the Cubs' clubhouse on Sunday, but may have uncorked a controversy with an alleged knockdown pitch to Sammy Sosa.
Beckett threw a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to prevent the Cubs from clinching their first World Series appearance in 58 years.
Marlins' right-hander became the first pitcher to shut out the Cubs in the postseason since Boston's Babe Ruth in Game 1 of the 1918 World Series.
After an off-day Monday, Mark Prior will face right-hander Carl Pavano in Game 6 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night with the Cubs leading 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Prior has won 12 of his last 13 decisions with a 1.55 earned-run average, including a 2-0 record in the postseason.
And if the Cubs don't win Game 6, they'll have another chance Wednesday night in Game 7 with Kerry Wood on tap.
"No, we've only got one chance," Cubs left fielder Moises Alou said. "We're going to do it Tuesday. We can't worry about Wednesday."
Not that the series needs any more intensity, but Game 6 figures to be a high-strung affair with Prior on the mound and an angry Sosa looking to even the score.
Beckett knocked him backward in the third inning with a high-and-tight fastball on his first delivery that caused Sosa to stagger and point angrily at the pitcher while debating with plate umpire Larry Poncino.
"He overreacted a lot," Beckett said. "I don't know really what else to say. I don't know what we was trying to dotrying to pull a Red Sox-Yankees thing. I don't know. I was so surprised I had to shout something else back at him. It was kind of baffling to me, really."
Sosa has been hit in the head twice this season, including April 20 in Pittsburgh when Pirates reliever Salomon Torres broke his helmet and sent him to the hospital for tests.
Montreal's Zach Day also beaned him on Sept. 9 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, though Sosa was able to remain in the game.
After Sunday's game, Sosa said Beckett "probably wasn't" throwing at him, but added his angry reaction was based on being hit in the head before.
"I have nothing against nobody," he said. "I like to play the game the way it is. But when I don't like something, I'm going to let him know."
Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez intervened with Sosa and told him the pitch was unintentional.
Sosa said he replied: "I understand, but I've been hit in the head a couple times. I don't like that anymore. That [stuff] has to stop."
The Cubs hit an NLCS-record 10 home runs in the first four games, but it was the Marlins who played long ball Sunday.
Game 1 hero Mike Lowell smacked a 413-foot homer with a man on off Carlos Zambrano in the fifth to break a scoreless tie.
Rodriguez hit a hanging curve off Dave Veres into the left-field stands in the seventh and Jeff Conine added a shot off Mike Remlinger in the eighth.