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Chicago Cubs fall 7-4 to Minnesota Twins
The picture -- Milton Bradley with hands on his head -- captured a moment but could have encapsulated his career in Chicago.
And for the fans, especially the 41,509 Friday at Wrigley Field, it's right back at you, Milton. Kind of like the warm-up ball he tossed into the stands before the ninth inning that came flying back at him from the right-field bleachers.
"These people have high expectations, and I have high expectations for myself," Bradley said. "I've never made a mistake like that in my life. Sue me."
The "mistake" could be one of several he made Friday, but the one Bradley was talking about came in the eighth inning, when he tossed a live ball into the bleachers after catching a fly ball with two men on base for the second out during a 7-4 loss to the Twins.
His moment of pride after making a nice catch -- he had missed a fly ball in the sun an inning earlier -- turned into a moment of embarrassment as he realized his error.
"I wasn't embarrassed. I've done a whole lot of things to be embarrassed about," Bradley said. "My heart was in the right place. I tried to give a souvenir. It was messed up."
Actually, it was a moment of team levity in an otherwise dreary season in which the Cubs continue to be challenged offensively.
"We talked about it today, just have fun and relax," Bradley said. "It's hard to get me to smile on a baseball field, but I had to smile today. You can't just keep taking yourself too seriously. You have to chill out, have fun. If we do that, we'll be all right."
Bradley's mental miscue didn't cost the Cubs a run -- the runner on third would have scored on a sacrifice fly and Aaron Heilman stranded the other runner, who moved from first to third after Bradley's gaffe.
Bradley's fifth-inning baserunning error, when he was tagged out going from second to third on ground ball to third, likely didn't cost the Cubs a run either.
The fly ball he lost in the sun in the seventh did lead to a run.
But he did drive in a pair with a bases-loaded, two-run double in the sixth.
"Other than that," manager Lou Piniella said of the hit, "it was not a good day for him."
Nor for his teammates, even though they did score four runs.
Starter Randy Wells had his worst outing, lasting only into the fourth inning and allowing four runs -- the first two on Joe Mauer's 13th home run -- and watching his earned-run average rise from 1.86 to 2.55.
And then there's the offense, which managed only six hits off six Twins pitchers, including starter Kevin Slowey (9-2), who allowed just two hits and struck out 10.
Piniella even shook up the lineup, batting Bradley third, Geovany Soto fifth, Kosuke Fukudome sixth and Ryan Theriot seventh.
"We've struggled," Piniella said. "[Friday] was better than it has been."
As for whether Piniella would talk to Bradley about his mental mistake -- which has been done before many times, including by Colorado's Larry Walker, Boston's Trot Nixon and Tampa Bay's Damon Hollins -- Piniella said:
"Do we have to go over the math? One, two, three. I don't know what else to say."
Bradley is batting .224 while battling leg injuries, but he does not want to leave the impression he isn't trying.
"I give 250 percent every day," he said. "If you can't see that, then something's wrong. I give everything I have.
"I just made a mistake. I've never had that happen before. I guess I'll be in the bloopers with Larry Walker now. There are worse people I could be with."
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Up next Sat. vs. Twins, 12:05 p.m., CSN