"No, sir," Piniella said emphatically. "No, sir."
The Cubs gave him reason to reconsider. Aramis Ramirez hit three home runs, driving in seven, Geovany Soto hit a game-tying solo shot and Derrek Lee hit a tie-breaking RBI double to lift the inspired Cubs to a 14-7 come-from-behind win Tuesday over the Astros.
Ramirez hit a solo homer in the fourth, a three-run shot in the fifth and another three-run blast in the eighth. It was his fourth career three-homer game, and first since Sept. 16, 2004, at Cincinnati. The seven RBIs matched a career high.
"I'm not a home run hitter," said Ramirez, who is batting .383 in July with five doubles, a triple, nine homers and 24 RBIs. "I want to get my average up. I'm still in the .220s. I'm at least a .250 hitter."
At least. He also homered on Monday and now has four home runs in his last seven at-bats.
Chicago trailed 6-0 after 3 1/2 innings but rallied behind the homers, tying the game at 7 on Soto's leadoff shot in the sixth. In the seventh, Starlin Castro doubled off Brandon Lyon (5-4) and scored on Lee's double. Two outs later, Lee tallied on Alfonso Soriano's single to give rookie Andrew Cashner (1-3) his first Major League beer shower.
"Watching from the bullpen and seeing the way Ramy's been swinging the bat, going all the way back to Arizona [series July 5-7], he's been seeing the ball well and he picked us up tonight," Cashner said. "As soon as I got up, I thought I'd be going in and I just tried to keep it close."
He was efficient. Cashner faced six batters in two innings and threw 16 pitches.
"I really didn't have my best stuff tonight, but I was able to get guys out and put the ball in the location I wanted to," the rookie said. "My main goal was to throw strikes and not walk any guys."
It was a wild ending to an emotional day for Piniella, 66, who announced prior to the game that he's heading home to Tampa, Fla., once the season is over. The Cubs have posted winning records in his three previous seasons but have not topped .500 this year.
"Sure it was emotional and draining," Piniella said of his day. "But it's over with and now my situation doesn't have to be [discussed] anymore and we can concentrate on the team, which is the important component. I'm just a small piece of it. Let's hope we continue to play and win some baseball games and make it fun for our fans."
He had turned off his phone Tuesday morning. He'll most likely have a few messages whenever he decides to turn it on.
"Playing for so long, coaching and managing for so long, I think he's seen it all," Ryan Dempster said. "He's been through it all, he's won a lot of games as a manager. He's won World Series titles both as a player and coach and manager and he's had a great career. Hopefully we can go out there and keep winning ballgames and end this season with something special."
It was night both second basemen would like to forget as both made errors that led to runs. The Astros had a 1-0 lead and two on in the second when Jason Castro hit a potential double play ball to Ryan Theriot, who threw past Starlin Castro for an error, allowing a run to score.
One out later, Dempster walked Michael Bourn to load the bases, then hit Angel Sanchez and walked Lance Berkman to force in two more runs. Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee added RBI singles in the fourth and Johnson hit a solo homer in the fifth to go ahead, 7-1.
The Cubs took advantage of Keppinger's error in the fifth that was nearly identical to Theriot's and led to five unearned runs.
"They opened the door for us by throwing the ball away at second," Houston's Brad Mills said, "and we kind of opened the door the exact same way."
It's the first time the Cubs have overcome a six-run deficit since May 30, 2008, when they trailed 8-0 and 9-1 against Colorado and won, 10-9.
"It didn't start well," Piniella said of the game, "but sure ended well. I'm proud of our team and the way they came back and finished the job."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less