The Cubs have enough problems of their own these days, and on top of that, they've run into the hottest team in baseball.
Their biggest problem has been scoring runs. They lost 3-0 Saturday at Wrigley Field to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 13-2 since the all-star break and who have won a club-record 13 straight road games.
The Cubs have lost three in a row and six of seven, and they've been outscored 30-19 in that time. No doubt they miss the presence of traded left fielder Alfonso Soriano in the middle of the lineup.
They also came up short on the bench when platoon third baseman Luis Valbuena was not available because of a right-oblique strain. Manager Dale Sveum said Valbuena is headed for the disabled list. The Cubs will have to make a roster move today, and the likely guess is they'll call up infielder Logan Watkins from Class AAA Iowa.
Soriano or no, the Cubs hit into 4 double plays Saturday. They were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners.
"It's hard to replace that kind of guy that can carry you for a week or two with the homers and just his presence in the lineup, for what he's done in his career," said Sveum, whose team fell to 49-61. "People are obviously afraid of that sometimes. It's a difficult thing to replace."
For the second straight day, one of the top two Cubs pitchers struggled with command. Friday it was Travis Wood. Saturday it was Jeff Samardzija.
Although credited with a quality start, Samardzija (6-10, 3.78 ERA) had a pair of 28-pitch innings as he threw 112 over 6. He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs while walking five, striking out nine and hitting a batter.
The Dodgers got a run in the third and 2 in the sixth, when Samardzija allowed 2 hits and walked two, including the leadoff hitter.
"Put that first guy on and no outs, it just puts you in the hole right away and makes you end up throwing a lot of pitches, especially with a lineup like this where you've got to be careful anyway," Samardzija said.
The Dodgers have been fun to watch, too, in large part because of rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig. He was 2-for-3, making him 77-for-205 (.376) on the season. He crashed into the wall in right field trying to catch a foul pop. He made a diving catch on Starlin Castro's ball in the seventh. On the play, Puig turned his left wrist.
He was wearing a brace in the clubhouse after the game, and the team said he had a left-thumb contusion.
Other than that, it's been nothing but full-speed ahead for L.A.
"It's fun to come to the clubhouse and know we expect to win the ballgame," said closer Kenley Jansen, who earned his 16th save. "So the expectation is to win every day.
"Even if you're not going to win every day, you have to come with the expectation you're going to win ballgames. It definitely feels good. I never paid attention to it (the streak) until today (when) I found out about that. It's awesome."
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