Inside Pitch: Baker Uncertain

Dusty Baker is still not sure what to do with struggling closer Ryan Dempster in the final five games of the season.

On one hand, Baker wants Dempster to get his confidence back after blowing his last four save opportunities since he last nailed down a save on Aug. 14. On the other hand, the manager feels Dempster is losing confidence.

"You don't want to beat a dead horse to death," Baker said. "We'll just turn the page and try to change the subject and try to figure out what we need to do."

Dempster said he's been "horse(bleep)" but hasn't lost his confidence. Have the Cubs lost their confidence in him? They could try to pick up a closer during the offseason or promote Bob Howry or Scott Eyre for the job.

"They have to do whatever they have to do to win here," Dempster said. "I feel like I can do the job. I've done the job. Maybe I cheated the baseball Gods out of cards or something. I just have to keep fighting and not give up. I've never given up."

REPLAY: For the second day in a row, the bullpen blew a late lead and the Cubs dropped a 5-4 game to Cincinnati on Monday at Great American Ball Park. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a three-run, pinch homer in the eighth inning off Scott Eyre to put the Reds ahead.

The Cubs (63-94) scored four unearned runs off of Bronson Arroyo in the first -- the big blow was Henry Blanco's bases-loaded single to bring home two runs. But they were held scoreless the rest of the way.

The Cubs finished 30-51 on the road this season, and it's the first time they finished under .500 on the road since going 31-50 in 2001.

Even though the Cubs finished with a 79-83 mark last year, they were still posted a 41-40 away record.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • RHP Wade Miller, who is hoping to be under consideration for a spot in the starting rotation next year, threw five shutout innings but did not get decision in the Cubs' 5-4 loss to Cincinnati on Monday.

    Miller's last win was Aug. 3, 2005, when he was with Boston and beat Kansas City 8-5. He had shoulder surgery last September and didn't start pitching for the Cubs until Sept. 9.

  • CF Juan Pierre had two hits in Monday's loss to Cincinnati and has 196 for the year. Ryne Sandberg was the last Cubs player with 200 hits in a season; he did it in 1984.

  • RHP Bob Howry owns 21 holds this season, which is the most by a Cubs pitcher since 2001, when Jeff Fassero had 25 and Kyle Farnsworth added 24.

  • LHP Sean Marshall will get the starting nod against Milwaukee on Tuesday, and while he had been solid during the early part of the season, he is not making a good finishing impression. The rookie failed to go at least five innings in each of his past three starts.

  • RF Jacque Jones, who missed the first three games of the Cincinnati series to be with his wife, who gave birth to a girl Friday morning, was back with the team Monday but did not start. He lined out as a pinch hitter. Jones likely will start Tuesday night when the Cubs host Milwaukee.

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