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With 150 games to go, the Cubs and their legion of skittish fans will have to learn how to pace themselves in order to survive this season of high expectations.
Sunday's 11-10 loss to Cincinnati in 10 innings was the third one-run decision in this chaotic series that winds up Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
"I'd rather have intensity than lack of [it]. I mean, how do you pace yourself?" Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "This is a one-day-at-a-time game. There's no room for pacing yourself. I'd rather have that intensity."
On a warm day that saw winds gusting out at more than 30 m.p.h., Cubs starter Greg Maddux was denied his first victory of the season for the third time. He appeared to be sharper than his first two starts, yet allowed seven runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out five, walked two and hit a batter.
"I'm not pitching good," Maddux said. "It's one of those things where I don't think I'm pitching as bad as it looks."
Maddux, who received no decision Sunday, is 0-2 with an 8.62 earned-run average.
Juan Castro's two-run triple in the 10th off Cubs closer Joe Borowski (1-1) was the difference for the Reds. Ryan Freel led off with a fly ball to right that Sammy Sosa lost in the sun for a single. After Jason LaRue popped up a bunt attempt that was caught by catcher Michael Barrett, pinch-hitter Javier Valentin drew a walk. Castro then hit a triple off the wall in center to bring in Freel and Valentin.
The Cubs rallied in the bottom of the 10th, when Aramis Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly that scored Corey Patterson. But Derrek Lee's deep fly ball to center with Moises Alou on first base was caught by Ken Griffey Jr. to end the game.
The Cubs had threatened in the bottom of the ninth but came up empty. Pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth singled sharply to right with one out. Ramon Martinez followed with a pop single to short left. Hollandsworth tried to advance to third base but was thrown out by Adam Dunn. Todd Walker ended the threat when his soft liner was caught by shortstop Barry Larkin.
The loss was not due to lack of offense. Sosa slugged two home runs to break his tie with Ernie Banks as the club's all-time home run hitter with 514. Alou was 3-for-5 and just a single away from hitting for the cycle. The Cubs rapped 17 hits.
Among the highlights:
Sosa homered into the basket in left-center in the first inning for the Cubs' first run. His home run to left field in the third made it 3-3, negating Cincinnati's three-run first.
The Cubs took their first lead with a four-run fifth inning. Alou hit his sixth home run of the season to close the deficit to 5-4. After two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases, the Cubs tied it on Maddux's groundout. Walker drove in a pair of runs with a double that was misplayed by Wily Mo Pena in right field, giving the Cubs a 7-5 advantage.
Cincinnati's Austin Kearns smacked a one-out, two-run homer off Maddux in the sixth to tie it 7-7.
In the bottom of the sixth, Alou lofted a wind-aided triple to center that was misjudged by Griffey. Alou scored on a drive by Ramirez that soared over Griffey's head for a double and an 8-7 Cubs lead.
Dunn's second homer of the game and seventh of the seasona two-run shotmade it 9-8 Reds in the seventh before the Cubs tied it in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double by Patterson.