Injuries, Inconsistency Mark Cubs First Month

If there's one bugaboo biting the Cubs, it's inconsistency. With a 10-0 loss at Arizona on Wednesday, the Cubs finished their road trip with a 2-4 record, and they fell back to 10-10 overall.

In both of their victories on the trip, the Cubs scored in double digits, beating the Cardinals 10-3 and the Diamondbacks 11-3 Tuesday night. In the four losses, the Cubs managed a total of seven runs.

Injuries, of course, are part of the problem. The Cubs have been without Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley for parts of the trip. Those three players represent the heart of the Chicago batting order.

But there have been rumblings that the Cubs came out of spring training overconfident from having won two division titles in a row.

"We're not going to be able to just go out there and play without intensity and go through the motions and think we can win baseball games, I can tell you that," manager Lou Piniella said.

"And the quicker that sinks in, I think, the better."

DIAMONDBACKS 10, CUBS 0: Cubs batters managed just two hits off Arizona starter Doug Davis. RHP Ryan Dempster gave up six hits and five runs in six innings. He walked three. RHP Carlos Marmol had a horrible seventh, walking four (one intentionally) and giving up four runs.

NOTES, PLAYER NEWS

--LF Alfonso Soriano has seven homers, one short of the team record for April. Lee hit eight last year. Sammy Sosa (2000, 2002) and Lee Walls (1958) are the other Cubs with eight home runs in April. Soriano has 52 homers leading off games. He's one behind Craig Biggio for second all time behind Rickey Henderson (81). Soriano was 0-for-4 Wednesday after hitting safely in 17 of the Cubs' first 19 games.

--After being benched Tuesday, C Geovany Soto returned to the lineup and went 0-for-3. He's 5-for-45 (.111) for the season. The Diamondbacks stole two bases Wednesday after stealing five in Monday's series opener. He is 3-for-16 in throwing out base stealers.

--Marmol threw 22 pitches, only five strikes, in one-third of an inning Wednesday. Marmol relieved RHP Ryan Dempster in the seventh, and the only out he recorded was on a sacrifice bunt. Marmol sprained his left knee last Friday and hadn't pitched since then. His command, especially with his slider, was all over the place.

--OF Kosuke Fukudome, one of the few hot hitters on the Cubs, got the day off because the Diamondbacks threw Davis at them. Reed Johnson replaced Fukudome in the lineup and went 0-for-2 with a walk. Johnson is batting .222 and is without an RBI so far.

--Dempster was 5-0 in his career in April before losing Wednesday. He threw 31 pitches in the first inning and was up with many of his pitches. In 30 innings, Dempster has given up 29 hits while walking 14.

--RHP Kevin Gregg, the Cubs' closer, walked three in the ninth inning as the Cubs tried to get him some work. Gregg needed to be bailed out by rookie David Patton, who got out of the inning. Gregg most recently worked Sunday in St. Louis, and manager Lou Piniella said he wanted to get his closer an inning of action.

--The Sports XChange

MINORS WATCH

TENNESSEE 8, CAROLINA 4 (CLASS AA)

At Sevierville, RHP Jay Jackson (1-3) did it all in the victory Wednesday. Jackson started and went seven innings on the mound, allowing one run and four hits for his first win. He struck out four batters and helped his cause offensively, going 2-for-2 with a solo home run. SS Darwin Barney (3-for-5) led the Smokies' (10-9) offense with three hits, and CF Brandon Guyer (2-for-4, double) added two hits. Tennessee out-hit Carolina, 11-6.

BREVARD COUNTY 5, DAYTONA 2 (CLASS HIGH-A)

At Viera, Fla., the Cubs (9-10) out-hit the Manatees, 6-5, Wednesday one night after being no-hit. CF Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4) hit his first home run since August, 2007 for the Cubs' only offense and LF Jonathan Wyatt (2-for-3, walk) added two hits atop the order. RHP Rafael Dolis (0-for-3) started and pitched 3 2/3 innings in the loss, allowing three runs and one hit. He walked six batters and struck out two.

PEORIA 9, BURLINGTON 0 (CLASS A)

At Burlington, Chiefs (10-8) pitchers tossed their third consecutive shutout in the win Wednesday. RHP Alberto Cabrera (1-1) started and tossed six scoreless innings, allowing four hits in the victory. He walked two batters and struck out two. RHP Mike Perconte threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits to go with two walks for his first save. Peoria pitchers have not allowed a run in their last 23 innings. The Chiefs collected 14 hits at the plate. CF Tony Campana (3-for-3, triple, RBI, two walks) tied a season high with three hits atop the order. LF Kyler Burke (2-for-5) doubled and homered, and DH Josh Vitters (2-for-5) hit his second double. 1B Rebel Ridling (1-for-5) added a two-run double to extend his RBI total to 20 through 17 games – tops in the Midwest League. The nine runs were a season-high for Peoria, who won their fifth straight contest.

--Staff Reports

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