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Mental errors, missed chances plague Cubs
EXPOS 8, CUBS 4
Delino DeShields looked distressed after Tuesday night's game. As he sat behind a table in the Cubs' gloomy clubhouse, he clutched his newly shaven head in his hands.
By the time he was ready to speak, DeShields had put the Expos' 8-4 victory in perspective.
"Just one loss," he said.
True, but this loss was unlike any of the Cubs' previous seven. The club was done in by poor defense, untimely hitting and a host of mental errors.
"A lot of wasted opportunities," manager Don Baylor said.
DeShields knows he was guilty of one of the key mistakes. Trailing 8-3 in the seventh inning, the Cubs mounted a rally on back-to-back two-out singles from Darren Lewis and DeShields.
Corey Patterson lined a Graeme Lloyd pitch to left and Lewis charged around third before third-base coach Gene Glynn held him up.
Thinking Lewis would try to score, DeShields circled past second. Expos third baseman Chris Truby cut off the throw and nailed DeShields in no-man's land.
"That was a huge play," Baylor said. "We're down by five and want to bring Sammy [Sosa] to the plate. Anything might happen then."
DeShields said he was too aggressive turning second.
"I assumed Darren was going to score," he said. "I look up and he's standing at third."
The Cubs fell into that hole after a disastrous fourth inning in which the Expos scored five times with two men out.
Starter Juan Cruz had retired nine of his last 10 batters before Truby smacked a single past Chris Stynes at third. Cruz then walked eighth-place hitter Brad Wilkerson.
"That's what [we] preach: You can't let up on the bottom of the lineup," Baylor said. "You have to pay extra attention to making your pitches and getting those guys out. When pitchers prolong the inning, that's disturbing."
And that's exactly what happened. Montreal starter Masato Yoshii, a career .133 hitter, ripped a two-hopper to Stynes' left.
Stynes, who played three-plus seasons on Cincinnati's artificial surface, had the ball glance off his shoulder for an error.
"The ball got by him pretty quick," Baylor said. "It looked like a difficult hop."
Cruz then appeared to lose his composure, surrendering a double to Peter Bergeron and back-to-back singles to Jose Vidro and Vladimir Guerrero.
"You can't let those things bother you," Baylor said. "The guys behind you feel bad enough. You have to pick them up from time to time."
Cruz fell to 0-3, but the five unearned runs didn't blemish his ERA, which stands at 1.80.
On a day in which they sent their ace, Jon Lieber, home to Chicago for an examination on his right elbow, the Cubs were desperate for a highlight.
They got one in the sixth inning when Moises Alou, in his second game off the disabled list for a strained right calf, made a sliding catch in shallow left field.
"I got to the point where I had no choice but to dive," he said. "With this turf, if I let it drop, it's a double or a triple. I had to go for it."