With runs hard to come by, Cubs manager Dale Sveum is trying to be creative with his lineups.
In Thursday's 4-2 loss to the San Diego Padres, Sveum went with a right-handed hitting lineup against lefty Eric Stults.
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For the second straight game, Sveum moved Starlin Castro from the No. 2 spot in the order to No. 5, with Cody Ransom starting at third base and batting second.
However, Sveum said Castro will bat second on most days with a "normal lineup."
"With Ransom, you ride a hot guy," Sveum said. "If he's in a position to hit home runs, you want to make sure he gets 3 at-bats off that left-handed starter.
"You have to be a little creative sometimes with the lineup. You just can't be so vanilla. If somebody's really hot and they're hitting home runs all the time off left-handers, you want to make sure he gets 3 at-bats off that left-handed starter and not hit him seventh to where he might get 2 at-bats. It's that extra at-bat you're trying to get that really hot hand at the time."
Right fielder Scott Hairston, a platoon player, gave the Cubs their only runs with a 2-run homer in the seventh inning. Ransom went 0-for-3, and Castro was 1-for-4. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners stranded.
"In the long run, when guys are swinging the bats the way they can, it works," Sveum said of platoons. "They make pitchers work harder, which is what you're trying to do instead of getting quick outs on the same arm side. Guys can get much quicker outs and easier outs than it is when facing the opposite hitter. In our case, our left-handers are swinging the bats well. Our right-handers (must) get back swinging the way they can off left-handers."
The Cubs are 3-5 against left-handed starting pitching.
Pitcher Matt Garza returned to Wrigley Field after Wednesday's rehab start at Class AA Tennessee. Garza had not pitched in a game since last July, when a "stress reaction" in his right elbow ended his season.
He has been on the disabled list this year because of a left-lat-muscle strain, an injury he suffered early in spring training.
Garza will go to Class AAA Iowa next Monday for another start. He'll need 3 or 4 minor-league starts before the Cubs activate him.
This and that:
Staring pitcher Travis Wood recorded his first career stolen base in the seventh inning. It was the first stolen base by a Cubs pitcher since Ted Lilly on July 23, 2008 at Arizona … Three of Scott Hairston's 4 hits this year are home runs. All have come against left-handed pitchers.