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A fed-up Kerry Wood could hold his tongue not a moment longer.
His voice quivering with emotion, Wood said what Cubs fans have insisted all alongthat the North Siders have played with as little passion as success.
"We're playing like it's August and we're 15 games under (.500)," Wood said after the Cardinals' 3-0 victory Monday night.
"We're playing like we're already out of it. If you can't get up for a Cubs-Cardinals series then you've got some problems.
"We're dead. We're flat."
After the Cubs' fifth straight loss dropped them to a season-worst 10 games under .500, Wood lit into his listless teammates.
"I think everybody needs to look in the mirror and honestly ask themselves if they're giving their allmyself included," he said. "I'm not 13-22 (now 13-23) or whatever the [heck] we are."
What can be done to wake the Cubs from their stupor?
"I don't know," Wood said. "I have no clue. I haven't seen any signs of anything, of any life. But somebody has to step up and do something or we have to step up as a team."
Wood was sharp for much of Monday's game, allowing just two hits over six innings. But he couldn't match Matt Morris, who fired a four-hit shutout.
The Cubs, whose team batting average fell to .236, made the least of their few opportunities to score.
Fred McGriff twice stranded runners at third base, and Bill Mueller could not advance Corey Patterson to third after Patterson's leadoff single and stolen base in the third.
Mueller hit a sharp liner to third.
"You can only hit the ball," manager Don Baylor said. "You can't tell it where to go. I'm pretty sure [Mueller] knew what he had to do. He hit three balls on the nose and got nothing for it. One of these days, those line drives are going to fall.
"We had a man on second and no outs. Against Morris you have to be able to scratch out a run there."
The Cubs haven't scored more than four runs in a week. Morris, who mixed a dazzling curveball with a 94-m.p.h. fastball, made sure that trend continued.
"We haven't hit that two- or three-run homer when we needed it," Baylor said. "We're trying to manufacture runs. A bloop hit, anything. We'll take a wild pitch.
"[Wood] had great stuff tonight. You hate to waste that kind of stuff. We just didn't score for him."
After retiring the first nine batters, Wood walked Fernando Vina to start the fourth. Vina advanced on Albert Pujols' single and scored on a wild pitch. Wood needed 44 pitches to complete the three-walk inning.
The Cardinals extended their lead in the sixth on Tino Martinez's two-run homer. That was more than the Cubs' impotent lineup could overcome.
"I'm getting real tired of hearing the same [stuff] every time after the game's over: 'Keep your head up, we'll get 'em tomorrow,'" Wood said. "That ain't working. It's getting real old."