ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs might not be finding a new way to lose every day.
But the way certainly is finding them.
Contact information ( * required )
Take Saturday's 13-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Please.
The Cubs took a 5-0 lead in the first inning against Kyle Lohse, with 3 runs coming on Alfonso Soriano's home run.
That was that. The Cubs didn't muster another hit until the ninth inning. In between, the Cardinals scored 13 runs.
In the process, they saw their young shortstop nearly leg-whipped into oblivion, and that got their manager thrown out of a game for the fourth time this season.
It all happened in the Cardinals' hectic fifth inning, when they scored 8 runs to take a 10-5 lead.
With the bases loaded and one out, David Freese grounded what looked like a double-play ball to second baseman Darwin Barney, who flipped it to shortstop Starlin Castro to start a possible 4-6-3 double play.
But the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, the runner at first base, slid to the center-field side of the second-base bag and upended Castro, who had a nasty-looking welt on his left shin.
Castro fell to the ground as two runners scored. So instead of being out of the inning with a 5-3 lead, things just kept going.
There were differing interpretations on whether the play was legal or illegal, clean or not clean.
"He's out, he's real out of the base (line)," Castro said. "He wasn't trying to touch the base."
Asked if it was a clean slide, Castro said no.
"He slid hard, real hard," he said. "It's not clean."
As far as the legality goes, an umpire can call the runner out if the runner does not make an attempt to touch the bag. That's what manager Mike Quade argued with Derryl Cousins, and he was thrown out of the game.
"Not much to talk about," Quade said. "I disagree with Derryl and Derryl's assessment that it was a clean play. I think that's why they have the rule in place.
"I don't think there was an attempt at the bag. He got a pretty good piece of Castro as well. It's a huge play, obviously, in the game, too. It gets us out of there with a 5-3 lead, too. Disagree a bunch, obviously. Fortunately, Starlin's OK."
The Cubs did not retaliate by throwing at Holliday, whom Cardinals media members said left the clubhouse before they could talk with him.
Quade and the Cubs seemed to think that while the play was illegal, it was not "dirty" in the sense of Holliday trying to hurt Castro intentionally.
"I applaud somebody for going in hard and trying to break up a double play that will end an inning," Quade said. "My thing it's not a legal slide, and that's it."
Quade, of course, has bigger problems. The loss was the Cubs' fifth in a row, and it sent their record to 42-65. They're on pace to lose 98 games, and fans are clamoring for general manager Jim Hendry to make a trade or two by Sunday's nonwaiver deadline.
All 5 of the Cubs' runs in the first were unearned. They didn't get another hit until Marlon Byrd doubled off the shortstop in the ninth.
Neither starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez (2-3) nor relievers Jeff Samardzija, James Russell and John Grabow could hold down the St. Louis offense, which got 2 runs back in the bottom of the first before coming back in full force later.
"There's a lot of baseball left after 5-2 in the first," Quade said. "You're trying to find a way to make 5 stand up if you don't add on. Unfortunately, Jeff didn't have a very good day to get us out and stop the bleeding.
"He (darn) well could have. He made a pitch, and Barney and Castro were in the process of turning a (heck) of a double play to get us out of that mess. I think the game's different if we get out of that. I really do."