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Cubs don't 'play very good' in finale
The Cubs found themselves in a time warp over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, reliving history without really trying.
Whether it's Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio or Hideki Matsui doing the damage doesn't seem to matter. The Yankees had the Cubs' number last century, and they have it again in 2005.
The Cubs were swept out of New York with a 6-3 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, joining their predecessors from 1932 and '38, who were swept in both World Series.
"Those Yankees, they played good baseball this weekend," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We didn't play very good today.
"The other days we played OK, but today we made a couple of uncharacteristic errors. You certainly can't give these guys extra chances, whether it's outs or walks or whatever."
Mike Mussina outpitched Sergio Mitre in the series finale as the Cubs lost their fourth straight game, and sixth out of their last seven. After blowing a late lead in the series opener, the Cubs looked as if they were playing not to lose in their last two losses.
Outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said it might've been different had the Cubs held on in the opener.
"It started with the night one," Burnitz said. "That was our game. We should've won it. Then you never know how things can go from there. We just didn't get it done this series.
"When you should win, you want to win [those games] to be a contender."
The Cubs now are 91/2 games behind National League Central Division-leading St. Louis, their biggest deficit this season. They're 4-8 in interleague play with three games remaining against the White Sox this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field. The Cardinals are 10-5 in interleague play after beating Tampa Bay 8-5 on Sunday.
Mitre, who came in with a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous two starts, yielded six runs on eight hits and four walks over 52/3 innings. He threw 113 pitches, a career high in the majors.
"I thought I threw the ball pretty good," Mitre said. "It was just that ground balls got through, and I left a couple of pitches up."
Leadoff hitter Neifi Perez continued his recent slump, going 0-for-5 and committing an error at short, leaving him 0-for-14 in the series. In the 12 games since June 6, Perez is hitting .118 with only one walk, and his average has dipped from .325 to .283.
A key moment occurred in the seventh, when Perez came up with the bases loaded and one out but grounded back to pitcher Tanyon Sturtze for a 1-2-3 double play. Baker acknowledged Perez appears tired and said he'd give him a day off Tuesday in Milwaukee.
"There's nothing I can do," Perez said. "If [Baker] wants to give me a day off, I have to take it. But I don't feel tired."
The Cubs took a 2-1 lead on Burnitz's solo homer in the second and an RBI single by Todd Walker in the fourth. But Mitre struggled with his control and couldn't regroup when some breaks went the Yankees' way in their half of the fourth.
Yankees manager Joe Torre put on a hit-and-run with one out, a 2-2 count on Bernie Williams and the slow-footed Jason Giambi on first, forcing Perez to leave his position to man second. Williams grounded a single through the hole Perez had just vacated, so instead of an inning-ending double play, the Yankees had two on with one out.
Robinson Cano's RBI single tied the game 2-2, and Mitre hit Derek Jeter with a pitch the Cubs claimed was a foul ball, loading the bases.
Tony Womack's sacrifice fly to center scored the go-ahead run before Mitre walked Gary Sheffield to load the bases again. Alex Rodriguez hit a hard shot to short that Perez could've had, but the ball skipped past his mitt and into left for a two-run single, putting the Yankees ahead 5-2.
Baker said Perez might have vacated his position "a little too early." Perez said it was just another a break for the Yankees.
"When a team is playing good, everything goes for them," he said.
Perez's two-out error on a routine grounder by Rodriguez in the sixth preceded a run-scoring single by Matsui, prompting Mitre's departure and virtually assuring the Yankees' sweep.
"Rough series for us," Burnitz said. "It just didn't happen for us here."