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Baker: Spread blame around
The Cubs head into St. Louis on an upbeat note after shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 Sunday for their fourth victory in five games.
"You need all the momentum you can get going into St. Louis," manager Dusty Baker said.
Jerome Williams (5-7) threw 7 1/3 shutout innings, and Nomar Garciaparra's solo home run off Kip Wells (7-15) and Jeromy Burnitz's RBI double gave the Cubs all the runs they needed. The sweep gave the Cubs seven straight wins in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1897.
Third-base coach Wendell Kim took the fall after the Cubs' season fell apart in the final week of 2004, and hitting coach Gary Matthews was demoted to first-base coach.
With the Cubs finishing a disappointing 2005 season, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and hitting coach Gene Clines have to wonder if they'll be scapegoats for the players' lack of consistency.
Baker said it would be unfair to fire any of his coaches.
"I think that's wrong," Baker said. "That way, you're placing blame on one department. When you don't win, you can point to a number of departments.
"We all feel responsible for this, and sometimes the players have to take some of the responsibility too."
While Garciaparra and several other free agents face an uncertain future in Chicago, the coaches are in a similar situation. General manager Jim Hendry said no decision would be made on Baker's staff until after the season.
"I'm not here to single out blame in any area where on certain days we're deficient," Hendry said. "We've all had our share of not doing as well as you would've liked.
"Some days you hit. Some days you don't. We went through a stretch where we hit awfully well without men on base, and we didn't hit very well with men on base, so it's hard to blame that on a coach.
"I'm confident that our coaches have worked hard and tried to rectify a lot of our deficiencies."
Rothschild oversees a pitching staff that began Sunday ranked 10th in the National League with a 4.36 ERA, first with 1,056 strikeouts, 13th with 487 walks and 14th with 161 home runs allowed.
Clines is in charge of an offense that led the league in hitting at .274, was sixth with 612 runs, second with 168 home runs, ninth with a .329 on-base percentage and last with 356 walks.
"There are pluses and minuses on both sides of the ball," Baker said. "It's hard when you're doing great in one area and not doing good in the other area."
Baker, who spent four seasons as San Francisco's hitting coach before becoming a manager, said Rothschild and Clines had helped teams finish near the top over the years in pitching and hitting, respectively.
"As a coach you take pride in how your boys do," Baker said. "But I don't separate it, like in football. I've heard the defense blaming the offense, or the offense blaming the defense.
"That's something that I won't allow on my team. We win together, and we lose together."