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Credit Where Credit Is Due

It's tough to take, losing two of three to the Diamondbacks, especially when Cubs pitching held them to only eight runs in three games.

But credit where credit is due -- Arizona's a pretty good team, even though they lost three out of four in Milwaukee, from the team which, coming into its just-concluded homestand, had the best home record in baseball.

Today's 3-0 loss to Arizona -- what can you say? The Cubs just got outpitched, first by Yusmeiro Petit, who pretty much matched Sean Marshall all game; Marshall had only one bad inning, the first, when after getting the first two men out easily, a single, walk and single produced the only D'back run until the 7th. Marshall didn't have his best stuff, but did well enough to keep the club in the game, despite getting squeezed by plate umpire Mark Carlson. To be fair, Carlson's strike zone, though minuscule, was at least consistent for both teams.

Carlos Marmol, who all of us were clamoring for in yesterday's game, didn't have it today. Chris Snyder hit a 3-1 pitch into the LF bleachers to make it 2-0, and then Marmol lost his command after striking out pinch-hitter Chad Tracy, walking the next two hitters. After another strikeout, Conor Jackson singled in the third run. Marmol did wind up striking out the side, but had to throw 32 pitches to do it. Fortunately, with more than 48 hours till the next game on Tuesday, he, along with the rest of the bullpen, should be available.

The 9th inning was pitched uneventfully by Scott Eyre, and I couldn't help thinking that he might be being showcased for someone, as he was pitching in a fairly significant situation (keeping the game close) for the first time since last Sunday.

And this game, as did yesterday's, finally showed how much this offense needs Derrek Lee. Much as I like Mike Fontenot, he's not a 3 hitter, and the Cubs need D-Lee back, and they'll get him back Tuesday, after playing with a 24-man roster the last four days. Word is that Ronny Cedeno is going to be recalled for the St. Louis series, with Scott Moore likely returning to Iowa.

And it does, perhaps, prove one other thing: the power of the Official Simpsons Movie Donut must have waned. I had not one but TWO such donuts today, the first one bought by me, the second given to me by BCB reader McCarron (nice to meet you!). Both of them were consumed during innings the middle of the order was up -- the first time in the 4th, then again in the 7th, to no avail. My waistline, at least, is grateful.

I also met BCB reader N Oakley today, plus another reader who came up behind me, didn't identify himself (except to say he was from LaPorte, Indiana) and kept calling me "sir", to the general amusement of Mike and the others sitting with me on yet another glorious weather day. Total attendance for the three-game series was 124,408, again getting close to, but not breaking, the three-game series record of 124,810 set the weekend of June 29-July 1 vs. the Brewers.

The Cubs went 7-3 on the homestand. As Lou Piniella said in his postgame comments, "7-3 is pretty good!" Yet, we find ourselves feeling it's not so good, because the last two games were lost and it could have been better. The Cubs picked up only one game on the Brewers during the ten-game homestand; however, if Philadelphia's lead over San Diego at this writing holds up, the Cubs will remain only two games behind the Padres in the wild-card race (and perhaps still tied with the Braves, pending their game with the Cardinals tonight).

I'm optimistic (well, when am I not?) about the upcoming road trip. The Cubs have a day off and play six games vs. the Cardinals and Reds, and are 24-22 on the road this year (3-2 in Cincinnati and St. Louis combined, all five games having come in April, when the Cubs weren't playing as well as they are now). The Brewers don't get the day off, play four in Cincinnati and four (including a split doubleheader on Saturday) in St. Louis. Milwaukee is 19-26 on the road so far this year (2-2 combined in St. Louis and Cincinnati).

Rumor heard today: the Brewers have made inquiries to the Giants about the availability of Matt Morris. Since Morris is 0-3, 8.35 in his last six starts, my thought is: "Go right ahead!" No further talk about any upcoming Cub deals or moves, except for the above-mentioned expected recall of Ronny Cedeno.

As for today -- yes, it's disappointing, especially after the great 7-1 start to the homestand. But give credit to a very good Arizona pitching staff, particularly its bullpen. Take a breather after ten tense days. The Cubs surely will. There are 65 games left -- plenty of time. I've got some good off-day stuff for the next day or so. Till tomorrow.