No 7th (inning) heaven for Cubs

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On a peculiar Saturday in Philadelphia, the Cubs had two runners thrown out at the plate, stranded eight on base, looked clueless on a suicide-squeeze play and gave up six two-out runs in the seventh after scoring six in the top of the inning.

The end result was an 11-7 loss to the Phillies before 45,026 at soggy Citizens Bank Park.

"How about that for a ballgame?" Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Two outs, nobody on and they get six runs. That's tough to do."

Not for the Cubs, who seem to have a patent on unusual ways to lose.

After a one-hour rain delay in the seventh, Jacque Jones snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a two-run double off Antonio Alfonseca, capping a six-run inning that catapulted the Cubs to a 7-5 lead. For a moment it looked like Jones and the Cubs were finally in a groove.

But after Will Ohman retired the first two batters in the seventh, the Phillies responded with six runs off Ohman and Bob Howry to go ahead 11-7. Greg Dobbs' two-run triple off Howry, Dobbs' fourth hit, gave Philadelphia the lead and Carlos Ruiz's two-run homer rubbed it in.

Dobbs was playing first base in place of Ryan Howard, the Phillies' NL MVP who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain after the game.

Alfonseca, the former Cubs reliever, was credited with the victory. Brett Myers pitched two scoreless innings to close it out, striking out Jones with two men on in a ninth-inning downpour.

"You get the momentum and before you know it, you don't even get jabbed at—you get hit with a haymaker," Piniella said. "I don't have an explanation. I wish I did. I don't."

The game started out as a pitchers duel between Freddy Garcia and Angel Guzman.

Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, Alfonso Soriano stretched his hitting streak to 20 games with a single to left—the longest Cubs' streak since Jerome Walton's 30 games in 1989—before stealing second.

Derrek Lee snapped the Cubs' 0-for-17 stretch with runners in scoring position with a sharp single, but Soriano jogged around the bases and right fielder Shane Victorino threw him out at the plate.

"When I was diving into second base, I felt [my left hamstring] a little bit," Soriano said. "After that I was a little worried and had it in the back of my mind that something with my leg was bad. So I was careful, running like 80, 85, 90 percent."

The Phillies knocked Guzman out of the game in a three-run sixth, during which Jones made an error in center field and Ruiz successfully executed a suicide squeeze. Guzman allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings and remains winless after 12 major-league starts.

"I made some mistakes, as you see," Guzman said.

After Garcia was removed, Matt Murton's three-run pinch homer off Geoff Geary in the seventh pulled the Cubs to within a run, and Aramis Ramirez's RBI single tied it before a 1:04 rain delay.

The loss was the fourth in five games for the Cubs, but Piniella didn't seem surprised about the way the Cubs fell apart after mounting an impressive comeback.

"This is small potatoes," Piniella said. "You'll see more than this. I hate to say it that way but, I mean, you stay around this business long enough, you see things you don't think can happen."

The Cubs are now eight games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee … not that Piniella is paying attention.

"We're trying to get to where we can win with some consistency," Piniella said before the game. "The standings will take care of themselves. Until we get to that point, there's no sense at looking at the standings."

psullivan@tribune.com

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