Lou Piniella issued one of his periodic warnings Saturday about not getting too caught up in the latest Cubs' hot streak.
Asked for some advice on how fans should react, Piniella didn't have any.
"The fans can do anything they want, because they don't play," he said. "They can go to the ballpark and have a cold beer and root and have some fun. We're the ones that have to go out there and play.
"They support us really, really well and they encourage us. But we're not quite into a sprint yet. We're not walking anymore. We're in a little bit of a jog, but we're not sprinting yet."
The Cubs then jogged their way to a 3-1 loss to Arizona, shutting down offensively against soft-tossing left-hander Doug Davis.
They managed only one run in seven innings off Davis (11-11), spoiling a strong outing by Ted Lilly (13-7), who allowed only two runs on four hits while striking out eight. One of the hits was Conor Jackson's two-run homer in the fourth, which proved to be the decisive blow.
"I made some mistakes and that was one of the ones I didn't get away with," Lilly said.
Kerry Wood gave up a run on Justin Upton's RBI double in the seventh to give Arizona a 3-1 lead, and the D'backs' bullpen made it stick.
The Cubs put two on with two outs against reliever Brandon Lyon in the eighth, but Piniella opted to let newcomer Craig Monroe bat for himself against the right-hander. Monroe, hitting .190 against right-handers, took a called third strike.
With Milwaukee's loss to San Francisco, the Cubs remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers, although St. Louis moved within three games with a 5-4 win over Atlanta.
"We don't care what Milwaukee does or doesn't do," Piniella said. "We care about what we do. As long as we continue to play well, we don't have to worry about anything."
Beforehand, Piniella was busy psychoanalyzing Cubs fans, without the benefit of a psychiatrist's couch.
"In Chicago, people get real excited when the team is playing well and they get down when the team isn't," Piniella said. "We've got to find a little equilibrium somewhere."
Of course, that's easier said than done on the North Side of Chicago, perhaps the only place where some fans agonize over winning because they believe it's only a setup for an eventual collapse.
Piniella stresses moderation with his players, no matter what's going on in the fans' minds.
"That's really what this is all about," he said. "Not getting too high and not getting too low. You continue to play and focus on today's game only."
Piniella was asked if Chicago was much different from other towns he's managed and played in when it comes to emotional reactions to winning and losing.
"I think there's probably a little more urgency there for whatever reason," he said. "You sense it—'Boy, the Cubs won!' Or, 'Oh my gosh, the Cubs lost!'
"It's a long schedule, and you have to keep that fine balance between getting too down and getting too ecstatic. That's really what we try to do with our team–make them concentrate on the game we're playing today, or try to win the series. If you do that, you're going to be in pretty good shape."
The Cubs are in pretty good shape because of their pitching, and Lilly stepped up again Saturday. The Cubs rank third in the league since the All-Star break with a 4.11 earned-run average, while St. Louis is 10th (4.45 ERA) and Milwaukee is dead last at 5.49.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times