Fittest loser
Article updated: 5/6/2013 11:13 PM

Finally, a laugher for the Cubs

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Maybe Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer should lament a few more of his team's shortcomings.

Before Monday's night's 9-2 makeup victory over the Texas Rangers, Hoyer entertained reporters at Wrigley Field and talked honestly of the Cubs' woes to date.


Cubs scouting report

Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field
TV: WGN Tuesday; Comcast SportsNet Wednesday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Travis Wood (2-2) vs. Lance Lynn (5-0) Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.; Carlos Villanueva (1-2) vs. Jake Westbrook (2-1) Wednesday at 1:20 p.m.
At a glance: This will end a stretch of 21 games in 21 days for the Cubs, who were 7-10 against the Cardinals last year, 5-4 at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals were off Monday; they led the NL Central by 2½ games entering the day. St. Louis leads the NL in ERA (3.09). The Cubs entered Monday with a 3.95 team ERA. With closer Jason Motte out for the year with elbow surgery, Edward Mujica has taken over as closer and has 8 saves. Westbrook leads the NL in ERA (1.07).
Next: Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday-Sunday
-- Bruce Miles

Specifically, he mentioned that very good starting pitching was being wasted in part by an inability to tack on runs during the middle innings.

He also noted that the Cubs had not had a blowout victory this year.

Although he also talked of a bad bullpen, there was no need for Dr. Hoyer's magic elixir as the Cubs didn't need to worry about a lack of relief because of the big lead.

The Cubs enjoyed their first comfortable win of the season. They did it by blowing open a 1-0 lead with 5 runs in the fourth inning. For the entire season until Monday, the Cubs had scored a grand total of 5 runs in their fourth innings.

That's the good stuff. The Cubs have a record of 12-20, leaving them firmly last in the National League Central.

"Your record is what it is," Hoyer said. "There's no hiding from it. We've done some things really well. Our starting pitching's been really good. As a team, the offense hasn't been able to spread games out. Our bullpen's been shaky, and that's a bad combination.

"I think 20 of our 31 games have been 1- or 2-run games. With that, you should have a decent record. We don't because we've struggled to win those games, in part because the bullpen has struggled and because we don't turn that 3-1 game into a 5-1 game. We're going to have to learn how to do that as a team.

"You can say that because of our starting pitching, our record is misleading. I don't think our record really is misleading. We just need to get better at winning games."

Manager Dale Sveum said he couldn't even remember what this kind of game was like.

"No," he said. "We haven't had one, so I can't remember."

The Cubs not only scored a season-high 9 runs, they also drew a season-high 7 walks. The big beneficiary was starting pitcher Scott Feldman, coming off last week's complete-game victory over the Padres.

Feldman lasted 7 shutout innings, giving up just 2 hits. He left the game while facing the first batter of the eighth inning, when his pitching hand cramped.

"It was weird," said Feldman, who improved to 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA. "I just threw my last warm-up pitch, and my finger was getting stuck (in a bent position). I tried to stretch it out and get a couple more throws. Finally, on my last one, I realized it wasn't going to work and came out."

Feldman had an RBI single in the Cubs' 5-run fourth, when they batted around.

"I was happy that we won the game and got a lot of runs, which made it nice and comfortable out there on the mound," he said. "It seemed that every time they hit a ball on the screws, it went right at somebody, and guys were making some good plays behind me."

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