Cubs' return to respectability will be steep climb
Chicago Cubs' Tony Campana reacts after striking out against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning during a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, April 25, 2012. St. Louis won 5-1. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
There wasn't much to take from the Cubs' 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
Well, there was Bryan LaHair's second home run in two days, an opposite-field shot leading off the bottom of the fourth inning.
And yes, the Cubs did manage to win the series two games to one, needing walk-off victories in the first two games.
But it's going to be a steep climb to respectability, and a tough road trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati awaits.
The Cubs fell to 6-13 for the season, and they've been outscored 90-66.
Manager Dale Sveum itemized the issues facing his club.
"Our first series win, at home, was nice," Sveum said. "We've still got to swing the bats a little bit better, score some runs, get bigger leads, to be able to hold on. But yeah, it's nice, especially 2 walk-off wins could have easily gone the other way, but the guys battled, and we came out on top two of the three games.'
Moral victories are nice, but the Cubs could use a few real ones from Wednesday's starting pitcher, Chris Volstad. Volstad fell to 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA as he lasted 6 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs.
It came apart very quickly for Volstad. With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, he got two outs after Rafael Furcal opened the inning with a single. Carlos Beltran hit an RBI double to left, and David Freese crushed a homer to left-center.
That was that.
"One swing, right?" asked Volstad, who has not won since July 10, 2011, while with the Marlins. "Two outs, you've got to close those innings out. All the runs they scored were with two outs.
"The home run pitch? I had been working him in the entire game. It just wasn't in as much as the other ones."
Neither the win drought nor the lack of run support seems to be getting to Volstad.
"If you let it get to you, but it doesn't matter if I give up 4," he said. "We had a tie game going into the sixth inning, and that's where I need to keep it."
Cubs batters did little against Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn, who is 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA. The Cubs stranded five and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. LaHair's homer tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth. In the fifth, the Cubs had runners at first and third with one out, but Lynn got Tony Campana on a swinging strikeout and Starlin Castro on a groundout.
"He threw a lot of fastballs," LaHair said. "He was locating in and out and up and down. He pitched well today. Just when you thought another fastball was coming, he threw something else. He challenged us today and pitched well."
So as the Cubs packed their equipment bags in the clubhouse after the game, they tried to take with them a little good feeling to Philly.
"Winning any series is good, especially against the Cardinals, especially in the fashion we did, those comeback wins," said second baseman Darwin Barney. "That was something we needed. We need to run around the field a little bit, like kids."
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