All the momentum the Cubs carried home from their West Coast trip was neutralized during another puzzling homestand.
One day after a 14-0 shutout of Florida, the Cubs found themselves on the other side of the fence Wednesday, serving up 20 hits in an embarrassing 15-5 loss to the Marlins at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs lost two of three to the Marlins with the three games decided by eight, 14 and 10 runs.
"Crazy series," Derrek Lee said. "But I'm glad it's over. Let's get out of here, go on the road and start playing better baseball."
The unpredictable homestand featured plenty of highs and just as many lows. The Cubs knocked out 20 hits against Boston in a 14-6 victory on Friday and 18 hits in a 14-0 triumph over Florida on Tuesday. But Cubs pitchers allowed 17 hits in an 8-1 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday, and Wednesday's debacle left them with a 4-5 record on the homestand.
The 20 hits were the most the Cubs have allowed since Sept. 8, 2000, against Houston.
The Cubs have an off day Thursday before traveling to New York for their first games in Yankee Stadium since the 1938 World Series, which the Yankees took in four games.
Manager Dusty Baker hopes his players won't be overwhelmed by the aura of the House that Ruth Built.
"You can look at the monuments," he said. "Just don't adhere to them too much."
The Cubs seem to be much more relaxed away from home, and they're happy to be on the road for the next 10 games against the Yankees, Brewers and White Sox.
"We had a lot of success playing two great teams like the Dodgers and the Padres," Todd Walker said. "So you have to imagine we have a lot of confidence going against the Yankees and Milwaukee before coming back to play the Sox.
"Our record is probably better on the road than it is at home (15-13 vs. 19-17), so based on that we're pretty excited about getting on the road."
The Marlins knocked Greg Maddux out with two outs in the fourth inning. Florida led 5-0 when Carlos Delgado nailed Todd Wellemeyer's first pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer, leaving Maddux (5-4) with seven runs charged against him, the most he has allowed since giving up seven to the White Sox last June 17 on the South Side.
It was also Maddux's shortest start since the home opener in 2004, when he lasted 32/3 innings against Pittsburgh in a 13-2 loss.
In a news conference that lasted all of one question, Maddux said: "I made a lot of bad pitches that got hit hard, and I made some pretty good pitches that got hit too. Tip your hat and try to get ready for the next game."
Florida wasn't done treating the Cubs like a piñata after Maddux's departure. They added two in the fifth on Juan Encarnacion's two-run homer off Wellemeyer, then two more in the sixth on three doubles off rookie Rich Hill, making his major-league debut. Three more scored in the seventh on Luis Castillo's three-run shot off Mike Remlinger.
Staked to a 15-0 lead, A.J. Burnett left during the Cubs' five-run seventh.
Over the last six games of the homestand against Boston and Florida, the bullpen has combined to give up 19 earned runs on 29 hits in 181/3 innings, a 9.33 earned-run average. The relievers also have given up eight home runs over that span, including four off Cliff Bartosh.
While the bullpen struggles, the Cubs still need a fifth starter for the June 21 game in Milwaukee, having sent John Koronka to Triple-A Iowa. Jerome Williams, acquired from San Francisco in the LaTroy Hawkins deal, is likely to be called up from Iowa.
"By the time we get to Milwaukee," Baker said, "we might have another plan."
Baker chastised reporters for asking about his plans before he's ready to reveal them.
"You guys ask me way too many questions," he said. "I'm serious. That's too far down the line."