MILWAUKEE -- What are ya, nuts?
Au contraire, countered Cubs manager Mike Quade.
Contact information ( * required )
No, Quade didn't break into French. That wouldn't be like him. But he did say he wasn't crazy when he said the Cubs could get back into the National League Central race.
That was Tuesday evening, a couple of hours before his club went out and lost 3-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
"I'm not a lunatic," said Quade, whose team fell to 42-61. "I understand there's a lot of work to do ahead of us. But we're playing the right clubs, and let's see if we can't put something together."
The Cubs were fresh off a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. On Tuesday, they began a 10-game road trip that would put them up against division front-runners Milwaukee, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
It's engaging in silly math to think the Cubs can get back into the race, especially considering they're in fifth place.
But Quade wasn't afraid to have at it.
"Teams that we've competed well against in the past," he said. "I know we're on the road, but we're playing better. We got a bunch of quality starts on the homestand, which we'll need some more of. And if we get those, we've got every right to think we've got a real good chance to compete with these guys.
"You know what? It's a funny game. We might come out of this road trip in real good shape as far as how we play here. If we do, there's still a lot of baseball left. I take nothing for granted and put nothing past these guys. We won three in a row against Houston. Let's see if we can win tonight and go from there."
It's true the Cubs have gotten a lot of quality starts lately. The recorded 7 on the recent homestand, with the starters having a 1.32 ERA in those quality starts.
They got another Tuesday from Ryan Dempster, who worked 6 innings and gave up all 3 of the runs he allowed in the first, when he surrendered a 2-0 lead.
Aramis Ramirez gave Dempster the lead with a 2-run homer in the top of the inning against lefty Chris Narveson.
Dempster allowed an 0-2 double to leadoff man Corey Hart before Ryan Braun blooped a double, Prince Fielder grounded a single and Casey McGehee tripled down the right-field line.
"I didn't honestly think at the end of the inning that was going to be the difference," said Dempster, who fell to 7-8 with a 4.98 ERA. "They did a good job of pitching. We did a good job of pitching. We just couldn't score any more runs."
The Cubs had a big chance in the sixth, loading the bases with nobody out, but Alfonso Soriano bounced into a forceout at the plate before Darwin Barney hit into a double play.
"The sixth inning, it boils down to the sixth," Quade said. "Really, that was the game, I think. The tack-on runs we talk about. When you've got bases loaded, nobody out, it's tough to come away empty."
"We're playing good baseball," Dempster added. "We played good tonight. We just got outpitched."