Cubs Worries Were Justified

Manager Lou Piniella said he had a bad feeling about this series, and those fears were realized.

For the second consecutive year, the Cubs scored six runs in the National League Division Series, and for the second consecutive year, they were swept in three games.

Last year it was the Diamondbacks. This year it was the Dodgers.

"I was concerned about our offense coming into this thing," Piniella said. "Basically, my concerns were realized. What can I say? We gave it effort. We played as well as we could. At home we were a little sloppy, but today, we played a (darn) good baseball game. But we just didn't take advantage of opportunities, and we didn't create many opportunities."

The Cubs led the NL in scoring this year, but their bats went cold again in another playoff.

Piniella attributed part of it to the Cubs seeing better pitching and some of it to good scouting on the part of the opponents. The Cubs have a nine-game losing streak in postseason play, dating to the 2003 NLCS against Florida.

DODGERS 3, CUBS 1: RHP Rich Harden lasted just 4 1/3 innings after having not pitched since Sept. 25, but it probably didn't make any difference because the Cubs didn't hit again. Cubs batters were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and they left nine men on base. 1B Derrek Lee was the only Cub with multiple hits -- he doubled twice and single. Pinch hitter Daryle Ward drove in the only run, with an eighth-inning single.


--RF Kosuke Fukudome was on the bench at the start of Game 3 of the NLDS. Piniella moved Mark DeRosa from second base to right field and started Mike Fontenot at second. The Cubs are exploring the idea of letting Fukudome bring a hitting coach with him from Japan next year. Fukudome got into the game and went 1-for-2, a single.

--Lee led the Cubs' offense in the postseason. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles. He was 6-for-11 (.545) in the NLDS.

--Piniella talked before the game of Harden going seven innings, but he left after the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead. Harden's fastball was clocked in the low-90s (mph), a good sign after he battled shoulder problems most of the season, both with Oakland and the Cubs.

--RHP Ryan Dempster was available to pitch out of the bullpen in Game 3, and RHP Carlos Zambrano would have been ready for relief duty in Game 4. Dempster, a former closer, said he was all for the idea.

"I'll do whatever they want me to do to win a game," he said. "If they want me to throw five (innings), I'll throw five. If you need me to face one hitter, I'll face one hitter. It's all about trying to win a game. It's about this game on Saturday, and that's it."

--LF Alfonso Soriano was a flop in the NLDS for the second consecutive year. He struck out to end the series this time and was 1-for-14 (.071) in the three games.

--3B Aramis Ramirez, who was 0-for-12 last year, went 2-for-11 (.182) in the NLDS this year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- That's the number of left-handed pitchers the Dodgers threw at the Cubs all season, including three postseason games and seven regular-season games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can play postseason between now and another hundred years, and if you score six runs in a three-game series, it'll be another hundred years before we win here. ... We've got to score more runs. That's it. Period." -- Piniella.

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