Seven and Counting …

Make it seven straight … and not just on the South Side. Jon Lieber became the latest former Cub to return to Wrigley Field and beat his old team on Saturday, holding the Cubs to a run on four hits in 7.1 innings for a 4-1 Phillies victory. The Cubs have dropped seven in a row.

Lieber (5-1) struck out six and walked two, beating Glendon Rusch who made his first start of 2005. Rusch (2-1) gave up two runs and eight hits in only 4.2 innings.

The Cubs got off to a promising start as Corey Patterson connected for the game's first run on a first-inning solo homer to right. Afterward, the Cubs would manage just four hits the rest of the afternoon.

Rusch had allowed a runner to reach scoring position in three straight innings before the Phillies finally ended his luck in the fifth. He gave up five hits in the inning, leading to two runs before Todd Wellemeyer took over and closed out the inning in relief. Wellemeyer went on to retire all eight batters he faced.

The Phillies put two more on the board in the ninth on PH Jose Offerman's two-run single off Michael Wuertz. With the bases loaded and one out, Wuertz got ahead 0-2 of the ageless Offerman (just 3-for-21 entering the day) before running the count to 3-2 and losing him on a base hit to right.

In the last of the ninth, Billy Wagner allowed the first two Cubs to reach base as Jeromy Burnitz drew a leadoff walk and Michael Barrett followed with an infield hit.

With Todd Hollandsworth struggling (yet somehow continuing to start over the younger, more promising Jason Dubois), Dusty Baker elected to pinch-hit for the Cub left fielder for the second straight day with the game on the line. As such, Jerry Hairston came off the bench and bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to take the tying run out of the batter's box.

Only then did Dubois pinch hit, and strike out to end the game. The Cubs (12-17) left seven on base and have scored only 12 runs in their last five games.

Before the game, several Cub pitchers shaved their heads. After the All-Star break in 2000, Don Baylor's Cubs team tried something similar in hopes of reversing their misfortunes at the time. It did not work.

The Phillies go for the sweep on Mother's Day behind red-hot starter Brett Myers (2-1, 1.34 ERA). Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 4.43) is scheduled to start for the Cubs.


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