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Uh-Oh...

Well, this isn't good. The Cubs have gone 8-30 in St. Louis since 2000, and that's with a 3-4 record this year before last night.

It got so bad that I hid behind a SABR research journal last night from last fall, that I had set aside and not read.

So while the Cardinals were slamming their last couple of home runs, I was reading about pitchers who had the most 1-0 career victories. Did you know that Fergie Jenkins won 13 such games? And that he also lost six times by 1-0 in 1968 alone? Why am I torturing myself by reading about games where teams don't score runs?

Seriously, you had to know that the Cubs weren't going to win this game when the starting lineup included Rey Ordonez (who managed to raise his average six points by going 1-for 4), Paul Bako and Greg Maddux. Yes, I know Maddux was pitching, but unlike previous years, he hasn't hit well at all this year. And so, facing a potent Cardinal lineup, this is like playing six hitters against nine, and you simply cannot win that way.

I also read a little bit of SABR's "The Fenway Project", in which 64 SABR volunteers each recorded their perspective of a June 2002 game at Fenway Park. Highly recommended.

If those people had watched last night's decisive 6-1 loss to the Cardinals, they might have thrown down their notepads in disgust. About the best thing I can say about Maddux' performance is that he didn't walk anyone.

What that also means is that with the three homers he allowed (Jon Leicester served up the last one, to Tony Womack, of all people), he has now allowed more homers (20) than walks (18).

Jason Marquis, who is a similar pitcher to Maddux and was his teammate for several years in Atlanta, outpitched his mentor last night, giving the Cubs eight singles and a home run by Derrek Lee, but inducing three double plays, including a game-ender on a nice pick of a line drive by Albert Pujols, who doubled off Lee.

Let me play the optimist for a moment here, because having now given up all the ground gained with the four-game winning streak of last week with a losing streak that's reached four, we need some.

The Cubs still maintain the wild-card lead, by percentage points over the Giants. If you look at the entire National League, what most teams are doing is unprecedented. Leaving out Colorado, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Arizona, the other twelve teams are all within 9 1/2 games of each other, something unheard of halfway through the season. Eventually, this will sort itself out.

The Cardinals are the hottest team in baseball right now and the Cubs are about the coldest, and this sort of thing doesn't last forever. The Cubs are 17-13 since the "tough" part of the schedule began on June 7, and I think we'd have taken that if we had known this ahead of time.

That said, winning the next two games and going into the break with a bit of momentum is pretty much imperative. So is getting Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup.

I'm going to give the last word today to Joe Baker, who is an occasional correspondent from Philadelphia -- and even though he's primarily a Phillies fan, he's got the situation well scoped out:

Just watched another pathetic performance by the Cubs. Every team goes through slumps through a 162 game season, but the Cubs look like Dead Men Walking. The whole team might have to see "The Wizard of Oz" because they have to get a heart, brains and courage.

I hate to say the turning point of the season might have been that game in St. Louis on June 23rd where the Cubs blew that 4 run lead. The Cubs haven't been the same team after that game.

What move either by Dusty or Hendry can be done to get the ship on course? You won't win too many games with Rey Ordonez, Paul Bako and Ramon Martinez.