Playing Baltimore in between home-and-away series against the White Sox looked like a sure-fire way for the schedule-makers to let the Cubs catch their breath and build some momentum.
But the Orioles walked away from Chicago winning two out of three after an 11-4 romp over the Cubs on a sticky Thursday at Wrigley Field.
"When we started playing the American League East and we saw the Yankees and the Red Sox weren't on the schedule, we thought we caught a break," manager Lou Piniella said.
Instead, the Cubs went 1-5 against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, taking some of the luster off their sweep of the Sox.
Was it an emotional drop-off after all the excitement of Part 1 of the City Series last weekend?
"They scored 11 runs today," Derrek Lee said. "They swung the bats well. It had nothing to do with a drop in emotion. We just got beat. They outscored us. The first game they put up seven and we almost made a comeback. The last game we scored seven runs, so I would have a hard time saying we had a letdown."
The Cubs lost a home series for the first time since dropping two of three to Milwaukee April 29-May 1, and headed into the second round of the City Series on a down note.
Jason Marquis had his five-game winning streak snapped as he allowed five third-inning runs and seven overall in a four-inning stint, his shortest of the season. After intentionally walking Nick Markakis to load the bases in a scoreless game in the third, Marquis walked Kevin Millar to force in a run before giving up a two-run double to Aubrey Huff and a two-run single to Jay Payton.
Piniella seemingly wasn't as bothered by the loss as the implication that his players weren't hustling. When asked about Jim Edmonds' slow pursuit of Brian Roberts' liner in the third, turning a single into a double, Piniella said: "I don't recognize any [lack of hustle]. We're so banged up that right now, let me tell you what, let's just get through the game and I'm happy."
Piniella said he "didn't see any problems" with Edmonds' play.
"That's not the problems we have," he said. "The problems we have are we're all banged up. Outside of that, I have no complaints about anything."
The Cubs trailed 11-0 before their bats woke up in the sixth inning against Orioles rookie Radhames Liz. While they came back from eight runs against Colorado in a 10-9 victory May 30 at Wrigley, this one was just too much to overcome.
The game dragged on and on, and Piniella even let Neal Cotts bat for himself with two outs in the ninth to get it over with.
"Gear up for the White Sox tomorrow," Piniella said. "What can I say?"
So now it's up to ace-of-the-moment Ryan Dempster, who faces Jose Contreras on Friday in the first game of the second round at U.S. Cellular Field. After the Cubs had their way with the Sox last weekend, Sox fans should be in fine form while greeting their North Side rivals to the South Side.
"I think the fans are good at both parks," the Cubs' Daryle Ward said. "We didn't have any issues with anybody. Sometimes they're a little tough on each other because they're against each other in the same stadium. But for the most part, it's Chicago and they like to have fun. And we're going to have fun along with them."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times