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Ka-BOOM!

That loud sound you heard last night was the sound of the Cubs' bullpen imploding. Or maybe exploding.

Dusty Baker decided to try LaTroy Hawkins to close out game two, with a two-run lead, rather than Joe Borowski. I'm not sure if he did this simply because Borowski had thrown 31 pitches in his horrid game one appearance, or whether he's thrown in the towel and given up on Joe.

Hawkins failed too, giving up a game-tying HR to Oak Lawn native Rob Mackowiak (the ingrate -- probably a Sox fan growing up, and who would have guessed that on May 28, Mackowiak would have as many HR and more RBI than Sammy Sosa?). Even at that, the game was only tied and sent into extra innings, and I had fallen asleep by then, thankfully, so didn't have to see Francis Beltran give up the game-winning homer to Craig Wilson.

That gave the Pirates a 5-4, 10-inning win, and a sweep of the doubleheader.

Incidentally, I wrote when the Cubs played the Padres a couple of weeks ago that Padres SS Khalil Greene had the best hair in the National League. No way, after watching Wilson play. Wilson's hair might make Britney Spears envious.

This is a low point, not only for this year, but equalled the longest losing streak from 2003 (four games) as well. That makes it even more imperative to get the injured players back. The offense of this club without Sammy Sosa really is different, even though Todd Hollandsworth has done a much better job filling in for Sammy than Troy O'Leary did last year. The club now has seven players on the active roster (Remlinger, Beltran, Rusch, Kelton, Dubois, Ordonez, and Anderson) who were not on the club on Opening Day. This is an alarmingly large number this early in the season.

That said, it is still that early in the season. We are not even at the one-third mark yet (that'll be another week or so). Excluding Arizona, Montreal and Colorado, the entire rest of the National League, 13 teams, are within four games of each other. Even at this early stage, that's almost unheard-of, and with interleague play only two weeks away, that's going to begin to sort itself out soon. We can take a lesson from history -- Cub teams that weren't that good were in first place at this stage of the season and then faltered, and I see that happening to the Reds as the season goes on. Conversely, there were very good teams like the Phillies of the mid-1970's, who stumbled along around .500 for half the season, then poured it on in the second half.

Perhaps I'm rationalizing, but this sort of thing has happened many times, and this Cubs team is too good for them to flounder like this for too long, and bullpens are going to have slumps like this from time to time, but even so, it'll give this club a huge lift to get Mark Prior back, which we still assume is going to be next Friday against the Pirates at home.

Hurry back.