Trachsel does his part, but offense doesn't in 6-2 loss

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs starter Steve Trachsel, making his return to Wrigley Field Tuesday night, allowed 3 runs in 6 innings

    Cubs starter Steve Trachsel, making his return to Wrigley Field Tuesday night, allowed 3 runs in 6 innings Associated Press

 
 
Published9/5/2007 12:20 AM

The Cubs got exactly what they needed and should have expected from Steve Trachsel on Tuesday night.

He's not the reason they fell 6-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field.

 

Once again, a spotty offense couldn't hit the spot, this time against right-hander Brad Penny, and the North Siders' record dropped to 70-67.

Their lead in the National League Central shrunk to one-half game over the Milwaukee Brewers and to 1 game over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The offense, which hit into 5 double plays against the Dodgers, has Piniella concerned enough now to voice what he has been mulling for the past week or so.

"The problem that we're having here is that we're not getting hits with men on base," Piniella said."That's a problem. And we don't have much speed.

"I've been thinking. We might just go to the speed club that we have and try it that way. But we've got to start scoring more runs. That's really the bottom line to this whole thing.

"I would consider changing some things and putting some more speed into the equation."

There isn't much Piniella can do, other than to put rookie Felix Pie and youngster Matt Murton into the lineup, but the manager hasn't always had confidence in either player's offense.

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The other move might be to move leadoff man Alfonso Soriano down in the order. Soriano is coming off a quadriceps injury and admittedly is gun-shy about cutting loose on the bases.

"Like I said before, he's the manager," said Soriano, who voiced general agreement with getting more speed into the lineup."Whatever he wants to make the team better, I'm going to agree with him because we're here to win. Whatever he wants to do, I'm fine."

Trachsel, making his Wrigley Field return appearance after last week's trade from Baltimore, turned in his fifth straight quality start, giving the Cubs 6 innings of 3-run ball.

But the Cubs wasted several chances against Penny, and relievers Kerry Wood and Will Ohman let the game get out of hand late.

"It felt good," said Trachsel, who began his big-league career with the Cubs in 1993 and returned last week after a trade with Baltimore."It's definitely exciting. It's nice to be back, like I said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've been feeling good for quite awhile. It's a little bit different getting up there swinging the bat and all that, so it's something I've got to work on. I've been sticking to pitching plans that have been real good and executing a lot of quality pitches."

Trachsel danced out of trouble early and got some help when the Dodgers got several runners thrown out or doubled off bases.

The Cubs threatened against Penny (15-4) in the first, putting the first two runners on before Derrek Lee grounded into the first double play.

"Tonight, honestly, I think I had a big at-bat in that first inning," Lee said."Sometimes, the key at-bat comes early. To lead off with 2 singles, I've got to do a better job right there."

The Dodgers broke through with a single run in the fourth and 2 in the fifth against Trachsel. Wood had a rough go in the seventh, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, and Ohman was booed off the field after failing to retire any of the three batters he faced in the eighth. But Piniella put the blame squarely on the offense.

"We've got to start getting some hits with men on base and go from there. Thanks," Piniella said as he ended his postgame briefing.


Dodgers 6, Cubs 2

At the plate: Daryle Ward reached base his first three times up, with a walk, a single and a run-scoring double. Derrek Lee, Jason Kendall and Ward hit into double plays to thwart possible rallies.

On the mound: Steve Trachsel, in his return to the Cubs, posted his fifth straight quality start, working 6 innings and giving up 7 hits and 3 runs. Trachsel threw 82 pitches, 51 strikes, walking one and striking out three. Kerry Wood had a rough go of it in the seventh, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. Will Ohman faced three batters, and all reached. Rookie Kevin Hart walked in a run in the eighth.

-- Bruce Miles

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