Paul Maholm and teammate Adrian Cardenas of the Chicago Cubs celebrate after Maholm's home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
In the early days of the Houston Astrodome, the Cubs did not play well there. Manager Leo Durocher hated the place and its then newfangled electronic scoreboard so much that he once ripped a bullpen phone off the dugout wall (the Astros sent him a repair bill; it's not known if Durocher or the Cubs ever paid it).
From 1965, when the Astrodome opened, through 1973, the Cubs went 22-42 in the Astrodome. This, of course, was in an era when the Cubs were mostly good and the Astros mostly bad -- and yes, it was largely the stadium, because in the same years at Wrigley, the Cubs were 38-30 against the Astros.
I am telling you this because it appears Chase Field (as well as under its former name, Bank One Ballpark) is the Cubs' Astrodome of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since the Diamondbacks came into the National League in 1998, the Cubs are 20-33 there and have won only one series since 2003 (an inexplicable three-game sweep in 2010). Again, it's got to be something Cubs teams have in their heads -- in the same time frame at Wrigley, the Cubs are 26-25 against Arizona.
Another series loss was clinched Saturday night after the D'backs beat the Cubs 10-5.
The highlight of the game had to be the two-run homer pitcher Paul Maholm hit in the fourth inning, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead. It was the first home run hit by a Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano went deep against the Reds August 6, 2011 at Wrigley Field in the second-to-last start he made as a Cub.
It was the second home run of Maholm's career. And no, this doesn't mean I have changed my mind about wanting pitchers to continue hitting. Before the home run, Maholm was 1-for-24 this season.
That lead lasted about five minutes, because Maholm got lit up and had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth, an inning where the D'backs scored six runs off Maholm before Jairo Asencio came in and got a couple of outs to end it.
It might have been worse earlier had Alfonso Soriano not made a nice running, diving catch of a sinking line drive by Aaron Hill with the bases loaded in the second inning. If Soriano doesn't make that catch, three runs score for sure and Hill might have had an inside-the-park home run.
The Cubs attempted to make the game interesting by scoring three runs in the fifth to make the score 7-5, but Scott Maine gave two of them right back, including a home run hit by Paul Goldschmidt. Maine's ERA ballooned to 8.68 and I have to believe he'll be heading back to Des Moines soon. Carlos Marmol wasn't any help either, giving up two hits (and a run) to the first two hitters he faced.
So the Cubs have already lost this series and are likely going to get swept. Want some more news? Their elimination number from the division race (not that contention is anywhere close) is 77 (and even lower for the wild-card race, 76). And we are not even in July yet.
The game preview for Sunday's series and roadtrip finale will post at 1:30 p.m. CDT.