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Cubs manager Lou Piniella's fuse is getting shorter by the day, and he's likely to explode in the next few days if his bullpen continues blowing games.
The Cubs, minus Derrek Lee, blew a four-run lead to New York on Monday night at Shea Stadium, losing 5-4 when Michael Wuertz walked Carlos Delgado with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
"The bullpen … we thought that was going to be the strong part of our pitching staff," Piniella said. "I haven't seen it."
The bullpen is 2-10 with seven blown saves in 15 opportunities. Piniella has tried using combinations in late-inning roles, but no one has stepped up besides closer Ryan Dempster.
Asked if he was running out of ideas, Piniella replied: "What do we do with it? You know what, I'm going to find out if there are some kids down in Triple A throwing the ball, and maybe that's the answer—get some different kids in here that can throw the ball.
"I don't know what else to say. I've tried everybody out there. You keep hoping it comes around, but we're getting into the middle of May now."
After Wuertz retired the first two men he faced in the ninth, Jose Reyes singled and stole second on a pitchout. Wuertz then walked Endy Chavez and fell behind Carlos Beltran before issuing an intentional walk to load the bases.
With left-hander Scott Eyre struggling, Piniella stuck with Wuertz against Delgado, only to watch a 10-pitch at-bat end in a walk on a 3-2 pitch.
"It shouldn't have come down to that," Wuertz said. "It should've come down to bearing down and getting guys out before that. You can't walk a couple guys in a row like I did. It was just a terrible performance on my part. You've got to be better than that."
Starter Jason Marquis had his worst outing in a Cubs uniform, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks over five-plus innings.
Piniella said the Cubs were looking to get only six innings out of Marquis because he threw a complete game in his last outing, but Marquis was lifted after Alfonso Soriano let a popup fall in front of him and David Wright singled.
Paul Lo Duca's double off Rocky Cherry pulled the Mets to within a run, and Damion Easley's sacrifice fly tied it at 4-4. Both runs were charged to Marquis.
"It was just one of those nights," Marquis said. "Things didn't feel in sync."
The Cubs were playing without first baseman Lee, who returned to Chicago after Sunday's game to have his neck examined after he complained of neck spasms.
Soriano was inserted into the third spot in the batting order in Lee's absence, Ryan Theriot moved into the leadoff spot and Mark DeRosa played first.
The Cubs took a 4-0 lead against Tom Glavine without doing much heavy lifting.
Soriano doubled with two outs in the first and scored when Beltran trapped a sinking liner off the bat of Aramis Ramirez.
Angel Pagan doubled with a man on in the second when Chavez dived for a blooper, and Marquis drove in two runs with a single that somehow eluded the statuesque Easley at second. Easley then failed to corral a popup by Cesar Izturis, allowing Marquis to score.
But the Cubs weren't able to tack on runs, a recurring problem this season. They loaded the bases on three walks in the fifth, but DeRosa flied out to end the inning.
The Cubs are 0-for-15 with the bases loaded since April 30.
"It's amazing," Piniella said. "When they walk us, we have trouble getting them in. But when we walk them, they score quickly."
Wright's two-run, opposite-field home run in the fourth made it a 4-2, and the Mets' 10th come-from-behind win of the year was officially under way.
"We were supposed to win this game, because we were winning 4-0," Soriano said. "We have to play nine innings every night. It's tough losing a game like that."