Chicago Cubs offense again silent in 4-1 loss to Atlanta Braves

SportsProfessional BaseballBaseballChicago CubsAtlanta BravesKosuke FukudomeJake Fox

Lou Piniella was in no mood to regurgitate his pregame comments about the lack of offense after Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Atlanta pushed the Cubs back to .500 at 41-41.

"There's no sense talking about it anymore," the Cubs manager said.

The Cubs wound up with only six hits off Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami and three relievers, a recurring theme that has Piniella at wit's end.

Making matters worse, Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was sent for an MRI Wednesday after suffering a left oblique strain during batting practice. He could be out for a while, forcing the Cubs to consider bringing up a minor-leaguer with no major-league experience.

"Let's see what the MRI says," Piniella said. "We have [ Jake] Fox who can be a backup catcher too."

As for the offense, which ranks 15th in the league in runs scored, Piniella said the media is asking the wrong person what's wrong.

"There's nothing else to say, there really isn't,' he said. "We just have to start swinging the bats better if we're going to do anything in this division or the rest of the year. And that's really the bottom line. I said it before the ballgame.

"I get asked the same questions every day. I think what you need to do is go ask the players why they're not hitting instead of asking me. They could probably give you a much better insight than I can. Or go talk to the hitting coach."

Hitting coach Von Joshua says the Cubs are trying to hit home runs instead of taking what they're given. Kosuke Fukudome's sixth-inning homer was their lone run.

"For me, a lot of it, outside of guys putting a lot of added pressure on themselves, the big thing I'm seeing, whether it's subconsciously or what, is everybody is trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Joshua said. "You don't have to hit the ball out of the ballpark to score runs. Today, each one of our left-handed hitters against [Kawakami], he was just painting the outside corner of the plate and they were all trying to pull the ball.

"Fukudome hit the ball to left field the way you should hit the ball, where his pitches are, and he hit the ball out of the ballpark. So I'm just trying to get the guys to try and relax and hit the ball where it's pitched and not pull everything."

The Cubs hit into three double plays and put only two runners in scoring position. Rookie Kevin Hart pitched five innings of one-run ball, but Casey Kotchman's solo homer off Angel Guzman in the sixth gave the Braves a 2-0 lead, and they added two in the ninth after Fukudome's error in center.

The players had no theories as to why the offense is so inconsistent.

"I think that's everywhere," Ryan Theriot said. "I think that's baseball. I just think that's the way it is. You're not going to score a ton of runs every game."

Derrek Lee conceded it has been "a year of adversity," but added the Cubs would have to stay positive.

"We didn't swing well for two games, but we swung well before that," he said. "Even when we're hot, we're not going to score runs every day."

psullivan@tribune.com Follow your team with our team More coverage on the Cubs and all things baseball at chicagotribune.com/hardball

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