Arizona's Steve Finley won't have the Cubs to kick around after Thursday, though he already has done enough kicking over the last week to last a lifetime.
The 39-year-old center fielder continued his one-man assault against the Cubs on Wednesday night, hitting his sixth home run against them in the Diamondbacks' 2-0 victory before a crowd of 38,902 at Wrigley Field.
Finley's seventh-inning solo home run off Kerry Wood was his seventh in the last seven games and his sixth in a span of 12 at-bats over four games against the Cubs. In five Cubs-D'backs games, Finley is hitting .400 with seven RBIs, including both Wednesday night.
"I thought we got rid of Steve Finley in San Francisco, because he hit a lot of home runs [against us there]," manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday afternoon. "I told him [Tuesday], 'C'mon, Fins, that's enough.' I think maybe it's me."
Casey Daigle and two Arizona relievers combined for the shutout, the third of the season against the Cubs.
Wood was on his game again, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. Wood (3-2) has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his last five starts but is only 2-2 in those outings.
"It's frustrating to lose to a team I think we should beat," Wood said. "But I'm not going to get frustrated about [the lack of support]. We ran into some pretty good pitching today and got outpitched. That's the way I look at it. We gave up two [runs], they gave up none."
Wood was victimized by the peek-a-boo Cubs offense, which appears and disappears at a moment's notice. The Cubs are 3-6 over their last nine games, hitting .214 and averaging 2.3 runs per game.
"We're only human," Sammy Sosa said. "We're not going to come here every day and score 20 runs."
Three would have sufficed Wednesday night, but the Cubs failed in the clutch, a recurring theme. They're hitting .266 overall but only .226 with runners in scoring position. The worst offenders are No. 2 hitter Corey Patterson at .095 with runners in scoring position, No. 8 hitter Alex Gonzalez at .200 and No. 3 hitter Sosa at .227.
The Cubs' best opportunity Wednesday came in the eighth inning, trailing 2-0 with the bases loaded and two outs. But reliever Jose Valverde induced Moises Alou to line one to deep center, where Finley tracked it down on the run for the final out. Alou is hitless in his last 16 at-bats and stranded seven runners Wednesday.
"Mo is our clutch man," Baker said. "There's not anybody you'd rather have in that situation than Mo. He battled him, hit the ball extremely hard. It just didn't find a hole."
Daigle (1-1) shut out the Cubs on four hits through 51/3 innings, but manager Bob Brenly removed him with a 1-0 lead after 66 pitches when he surrendered back-to-back singles to Patterson and Sosa in the sixth. D'backs reliever Mike Koplove got out of the inning when he got Alou to ground into an inning-ending double play.
No sooner did the words "this guy owns us" come out of the mouth of Cubs radio broadcaster Ron Santo than Finley cranked his eighth home run of the year into the right-field bleachers to make it 2-0.
"One thing for sure, this team is going to hit," Baker said. "You know when you rely on home runs, you're going to have some ups and downs. This is the team we have. We don't have a lot of speed. We have a lot of bangersguys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.
"It's like having a basketball team with three-point shooters. You just hope everybody doesn't go cold at the same time."
Diamondbacks 2, Cubs 0