"Blah" -- Cubs Drop Series Finale

CHICAGO -- Beating the Cincinnati Reds is getting harder to come by these days -- at least that's the case if you're playing them at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs dropped two of three to their division rivals Thursday, serving up three home runs as starter Carlos Zambrano was tagged with his first loss of the season in an 8-3 drubbing at the friendly confines. He gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings in a contest that saw the Cubs playing catch-up three batters into the game.

Zambrano (0-1) gave up two homers, the first to Adam Dunn with two outs in the first inning. He then gave up a three-run bomb in the third inning that put the Cubs in a 4-0 hole. Later, a three-run homer off Bob Howry in the eighth inning would put the game out of reach.

The Cubs left eight on base as Derrek Lee drew three walks but failed to score. Matt Murton's second home run of the season in the fourth inning and his RBI single in the fifth counted for two runs. On the same play as Murton's run-scoring hit, a fielding error from Dunn led to the Cubs final run of the afternoon.

Since dropping three of four games to the Reds in the final week of 2004 to all but end their playoff hopes, the Cubs are 5-11 in their last 16 contests against Cincinnati at Wrigley.

They wrapped up the three-game series being doubled up on the scoreboard, 18-9. Most of the damage was done without Ken Griffey Jr., who left Wednesday's game with a stiff right knee. Griffey didn't play Thursday and manager Jerry Narron implied the injury might be attributed in part to Wrigley.

"It's no secret that this isn't the best field (surface) in the world," Narron said.

Whatever the case, Dunn sure doesn't seem to mind. His 16 career home runs at Wrigley are the most he has hit in a ballpark outside of Cincinnati.

Awaiting the Cubs is a nine-game road trip beginning Friday night in Pittsburgh at 6:05 p.m. (CDT). Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Victor Santos in the series opener with broadcast coverage provided by Comcast Sports. After wrapping up with the Pirates on Easter Sunday, the Cubs embark for six more contests on the road in Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Contact Frank North: franknorthrup@gmail.com.

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