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Chicago Cubs lose 2-1 again
HOUSTON -- Ryan Theriot sounded like Lou Piniella on Thursday after the Cubs dropped another agonizing, extra-inning game on the final day of their three-city trip.
"I'm kind of like Lou," he said. "I don't really have an answer right now. I wish I did."
Geoff Blum's RBI single in the 13th inning gave Houston a 2-1 victory over the Cubs, sending them limping home with a 4-4 record.
In an extended rant afterward, Piniella wasn't pleased to hear his players had no answers.
"Well, they're going to have to find them," he said. "[The manager and coaches] don't play. They're going to have to find answers on the field. That's really the bottom line. Sounds cruel. Sounds harsh. But that's reality."
The reality Thursday was Blum knocked in the game-winning hit for the second straight game as he beat Angel Guzman on Wednesday night. Ryan Dempster pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one first-inning run on seven hits.
But, but like the rest of his rotation mates, Dempster failed to get much offensive support. Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Randy Wells combined for an 0.98 earned-run average in their eight starts.
In 88 innings of play on the trip, the Cubs finished with more than two hits in an inning only five times, including 39 frames without a single hit and 33 with only one hit.
What can Piniella do to shake things up?
"What am I going to do?" he said. "You know what -- just keep running them out there and hope it gets better. That's all you can do. Hopefully the homestand we have, we'll start swinging the bats and get better.
"The trip we had wasn't bad. We went 4-4. Boy, I'll tell you what, it ended on a sour note. We just really did nothing. We did nothing. And when we had chances, we swung at bad pitches out of the zone, can't make contact. ... C'mon. This is Major League Baseball. I know the game isn't the easiest in the world to play because I played for a long time. But it isn't this damn hard.
"It's a difficult game to play because it's every day. It has to be mental. You have to have toughness. You have to be able to think. You have to have ability. But at the same time, you make it too hard."
The Cubs were 2-3 in five extra-inning games on the trip.
"It seems to me like we played 13 games on this trip," Piniella said.
Russ Ortiz and three Astros relievers shut out the Cubs on three hits over eight innings before Derrek Lee's opposite-field home run off LaTroy Hawkins tied it with one out in the ninth.
Until then, the Cubs had only two real scoring opportunities all afternoon. Koyie Hill grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the second. And with runners on the corners and no outs in the sixth, Ortiz struck out Theriot, Tim Byrdak struck out Kosuke Fukudome and Alberto Arias induced Lee to ground out on a 2-0 pitch.
"You get runners on first and third with no outs and you can't get the ball out of the damn infield?" Piniella said. "The other time, first and third and we hit into a double play?"
Piniella stalked off, leaving the media in his dust.
"Well," he said, "That's all I've got."
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