Fresh off a road trip to the West Coast that featured a 6-1 record, 84 hits and 38 runs, the Cubs came home Monday and scratched out seven hits in a 4-1 loss to Toronto.
"It hurts a lot, but we've got eight more [this homestand]," manager Dusty Baker said, trying to make it sound like a positive after his Cubs disappointed a crowd of 38,807 on a summer-like night.
If there is any good news coming from Monday's loss, it's that the Cubs maintained their National League wild-card lead by percentage points over Arizona and Atlanta, although they did fall 6 1/2 games behind Central-leading St. Louis.
But the bad outweighed the good, including the Cubs' interleague record falling to 1-3.
"We have to do better in interleague games," Baker said. "We've got 18 [overall], so we've got to get our act together against the American League."
Though Cubs hitters may have their doubts about Wrigley Field, those like John Koronka consider it a shrine. Koronka was the Cubs' starting pitcher Monday and called it "unbelievable, the best feeling in the world."
The result wasn't as good.
Koronka, outdueled by Toronto's rookie left-hander Gustavo Chacin (6-4), lasted six innings and left with mixed results, yielding four runs on five hits.
"He pitched pretty good," Baker said. "He got hurt by a couple of big plays early."
"The effort was there," Koronka said. "I'm still a little anxious, trying to do too much."
And Sunday's next scheduled start?
"I'm leaving that open," Baker said. "We've got to talk about it. He threw a lot of pitches in a short period of time."
Koronka (1-1) put himself behind 4-0 after two innings, which included Reed Johnson's three-run homer in the second. In the first, he struck out the first two batters before Vernon Wells doubled, Shea Hillenbrand walked and Aaron Hill singled in Wells.
In the second inning, Koronka had a runner on first base and one out when he tried to nab the runner at second on Chacin's sacrifice bunt. Both runners were safe, and Johnson followed with his homer.
"He tried to save a run and ended up costing us three runs," Baker said.
Koronka yielded two hits and one walk in his final four innings, and also pitched around a fifth-inning error by Jerry Hairston. Todd Wellemeyer, Joe Borowski and Mike Remlinger each pitched a scoreless inning.
The Cubs got a ninth-inning rally going with Aramis Ramirez hitting a leadoff home run and Jason Dubois and Michael Barrett getting hits. But Jose Macias ended it with a double play.
Cubs batters also wasted early opportunities, leaving four runners stranded in the first two innings.
After Hairston and Derrek Lee singled in the first, Ramirez flied out and Dubois bounced into a force out. In the second, with the bases loaded and one out, Hairston grounded into a double play.
"That was kind of the story of the night," Baker said.