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Even history turns against sliding Cubs
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself, especially where the Cubs are concerned.
On May 7, 2005, the Cubs were six games out of first place after losing their seventh straight game, and Kerry Wood was on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
One year later, after losing 6-3 to San Diego on Sunday for their sixth straight loss, the fifth-place Cubs trailed first-place Cincinnati by six games and Wood was rehabbing from shoulder surgery at Class A Peoria.
Everyone knows how ugly things turned out last year. If their recent skid is any indication, the Cubs are headed for a repeat performance.
What can the Cubs do to turn things around?
"Just believe," center fielder Juan Pierre said. "You can't stop believing. Once you give in and start feeling sorry for yourself, the other team has got you. It's going bad, but everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror and then you'll get out of it as a team."
The Cubs have lost eight of nine, including three straight to a team ranked last in the National League in hitting. Then again, the Cubs are last in runs, so it all evens out.
Manager Dusty Baker pointed to some "fundamental mistakes," namely Jacque Jones' failure to hit the cutoff man on Josh Barfield's first-inning single that allowing Barfield to advance to second and later score. Baker declined to elaborate on the other mistakes.
"Every day it's something," he said. "We could've run the bases a little better."
Looking for moral victories?
Well, the Cubs ended two streaks Sunday, breaking an 0-for-24 drought with runners in scoring position on Jones' RBI single in the second, and snapping an 80-inning stretch of not scoring more than one run in an inning with a two-run fourth.
Aramis Ramirez hit his second solo home run in as many days, but it wasn't enough to stop the losing.
"It doesn't matter what I did [Saturday or Sunday]," Ramirez said. "We've got to keep fighting. We have a long way to go132 games. We just have to put it together. When we hit good, we don't pitch, and when we pitch good, we don't hit."
Padres starter Woody Williams (3-1) pitched eight innings for the win, while Angel Guzman fell to 0-2 and watched his earned-run average rise to 7.20.
The game was tied 3-3 in the sixth when Baker called on Roberto Novoa to replace Guzman after the rookie walked two straight with one out.
"Novoa has been the best for us at getting out of trouble," Baker reasoned.
But Padres catcher Rob Bowen, who hit a warning-track shot to center off Novoa on Saturday night, promptly doubled to right, bringing home the go-ahead run. Bowen also had hit the game-winning home run off Bob Howry in the 10th inning Saturday.
Khalil Greene followed with a two-run single on a 3-2 slider, giving San Diego a 6-3 lead.
Guzman could be on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation. Baker was concerned the rookie right-hander often falls behind in the count, has long first innings (36 pitches Sunday) and hasn't been able to locate his fastball, which ranges from 94 to 96 m.p.h.
The only thing saving Guzman may be that Wood isn't scheduled to return until May 17.
"At this point, we don't have a lot of choices," Baker said.
The only choice for the Cubs is to start winning now or face the possibility of a midsummer fire sale of players. There may be no other options.
"Instead of getting your head kicked in, you want to fight back," Pierre said. "It's easier said than done as far as [saying], 'Just relax and we'll get out of it.' The relaxing part comes with success."