Cubs' Return to L.A. Not Much Better

The Cubs returned to the scene of the crime Thursday. They were back in Dodger Stadium, where they were eliminated from the playoffs last year. This year, the Cubs may not even do that well.

"I'm not talking about being down 0-2 in the playoffs, but a chance to be in the playoffs, or be anywhere," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before his club lost 7-2 to the Dodgers.

The way things are going, the only place the Cubs are going is nowhere.

Their loss, coupled with the Cardinals' victory at San Diego, put the Cubs (61-58) seven games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, with both teams playing similar schedules the rest of the way.

The math is working heavily against the Cubs making the playoffs. They play only three more games against the Cardinals, all in St. Louis next month. The Cubs are fifth in the wild-card standings, six games out.

DODGERS 7, CUBS 2: RHP Angel Guzman gave up a grand slam to the Dodgers' Russell Martin in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie. LHP Tom Gorzelanny worked five innings, giving up five hits and two runs.


--RHP Carlos Zambrano pitched five scoreless innings in his minor league rehab start Thursday for Class A Peoria. Zambrano, who has been on the disabled list since early August with lower-back spasms, threw 76 pitches and said everything was "normal." He proclaimed himself ready to start Tuesday against Washington. Zambrano issued no walks for Peoria.

--CF Kosuke Fukudome hit his 11th homer of the season, topping last year's total by one. Fukudome entered the game 2-for-12 on the trip. He wound up 3-for-3 with a walk.

--2B Jeff Baker extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games. He's 18-for-40 during the streak.

--RHP Kevin Gregg made his first appearance since blowing a save Monday, when he lost his closer's job. Gregg worked a mop-up eighth inning against the Dodgers, going 1-2-3. Gregg could work his way back into closing, especially if Guzman continues to falter, as he has done this week.

--C Koyie Hill got his second straight start behind the plate over reigning Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto, who seems to have fallen out of favor with Piniella. The Cubs entered Thursday with a 30-19 record with Hill starting behind the plate. Hill has won high marks from the Cubs for his game calling and handling of pitchers.

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