The Cubs are in a holding pattern as they try to match last year's win total of 61.
They fell twice in three games to the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, including Sunday's 3-1 loss, in which they managed just 3 hits. Their record fell to 60-82.
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There's really not much difference in the loss total if a team doesn't make the playoffs. Manager Dale Sveum was asked if he'd take any satisfaction in an improved mark.
"You're mixing apples and oranges with a couple of wins and losses," he said. "Obviously, the difference between this year and last year is coming down the stretch here we have a lot better pitching going out there every day.
"On a consistent basis all year, our starting pitching's been pretty good. There's satisfaction, but we're still a long way away from where we want to be."
Cubs outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake both missed the cutoff man badly in the Brewers' 3-run seventh. Lake accounted for the Cubs' only scoring with a fifth-inning leadoff homer, his sixth.
"You don't want to throw balls like that, like we did, when certain people are on base that we didn't need to do that," Sveum said.
Relievers Justin Grimm and James Russell (eighth blown save) gave up the runs in relief of starter Scott Baker, who was pulled after only 55 pitches in his season debut. Baker had just completed a rehab from Tommy John surgery.
Sveum was going to limit him to 75 pitches, but he wanted to get more runs in the fifth when Baker's spot came up. Sveum went with pinch hitter Logan Watkins, who struck out.
Baker said he understood but that he would have liked to have stayed out there.
"If I was in the American League, absolutely," he said. "I know the National League's obviously different with the pitcher's spot coming up. I would have been happy to go back out there.
"Physically, I felt fine. It doesn't do you a lot of good to put up too much fuss. I told them I felt fine. That was the decision they made."
Infielder Cody Ransom was designated for assignment to make room for Scott Baker on the 40-man roster.
Ransom joined the Cubs in April after being claimed off waivers. He played in 62 games. Ransom put up a line of .189/.286/.420 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. All of Ransom's home runs came before the all-star break. Since the break he went 5-for-61.
"Unfortunately, Ransom's been here all year," manager Dale Sveum said about cutting him. "It's kind of a weird time to designate somebody. One of those unfortunate things, but it's part of the business."