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Cubs Lead, Pitching Fails, Cubs Lose: Same Old Story

The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 6-3, their third loss in a row and 14th in their last 16 games.

That's really all there is to say about last night's defeat, one of the dullest, most one-sided games of the season. But you are all owed a recap, so let me give it a shot.

In the seven-game losing streak from July 27-August 3, the Cubs had a lead for only the first six innings of the first game.

In the four-game losing streak from August 6-9 that followed the single victory that broke the streak above, the Cubs did not have a lead at all until the last game of the series, when they led 2-0 in the first inning and 3-2 in the sixth before losing in 11.

In the current three-game losing streak, the Cubs have had a lead in every game, including scoring first-inning runs in the last two and having a lead as late as the seventh inning of the first of the three defeats.

What does this mean? Honestly, I don't have the slightest idea. And probably, neither does Lou Piniella.

One thing I do know -- and I know some of you will disagree -- is that Thomas Diamond is not a major league pitcher. He's here because Randy Bush was his college coach and under the current circumstances, they can give him a shot because the team is out of the race. But really, Diamond is a thinner version of Ruben Quevedo. He's Joey Nation. He's Phil Norton. He's Jae Kuk Ryu. He's Juan Mateo. All of those guys were at one time or another presented to Cubs fans as prospects, some better than others -- but none of them made it. Diamond isn't going to make it, either -- not as a starter or reliever. He doesn't have good command and his velocity isn't top-notch.

What the Cubs really need to do, if they are serious about giving people a chance in this lost season to show them what they can do in future years, is get Jeff Samardzija to Chicago and slot him in the rotation. Now, not after Iowa's season is over (because Iowa is headed to the PCL playoffs and might be playing until mid-September). Since July 6, in seven starts, Shark has a 3.00 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 39 innings. Let him pitch in games that matter in pennant races -- see what he can do.

He can't be any worse than Diamond, who has a 2.077 WHIP and an 8.31 ERA.

I'll close with a couple of positive notes: Derrek Lee homered in his return from the bereavement list. It was only his third HR in 42 games since June 18.

And Starlin Castro had another hit; he's now hitting .400 in his last 10 games and his season average of .319 would rank third in the NL if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. He has 343 PA and would need 360 to qualify as of today. Since a player needs 3.1 PA per scheduled game (502 for a 162-game season) and Castro has averaged 4.6 PA in his last ten games, if he keeps up that pace he would have the required number of PA in game #127, which will be August 24 at Washington (barring rainouts).

The Cubs are 20 games under .500 for the first time since the last day of the 2006 season, when they finished 30 games under. At the current pace, they're heading that way. Today's afternoon game preview will be up at 1:30 pm CDT.