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Cubs Get Good Start From Chris Volstad, Lose Anyway

What are you going to do?

Another rhetorical question. Don't answer it, because as a Cubs fan, you've probably asked that question many times in your life.

Chris Volstad finally, finally, turned in the kind of start we had hoped we'd get from him in the No. 4 or No. 5 spot in the rotation all year. Seven innings, six hits -- all but one (a Matt Kemp home run) a single -- one walk, nine outs on ground balls. Throw that kind of game every time out and you're going to win most of your starts.

Except, of course, when your opponent is Clayton Kershaw and he's mowing down Cubs hitters at an even faster clip. The Cubs took a brief 1-0 lead on an Alfonso Soriano double off Kershaw in the fourth inning, and then Volstad gave up the homer to Kemp with a runner on in the bottom of the inning, and that, as they say, was that.

Does this give some hope for the future? Maybe it does. It's not as if Volstad is a 35-year-old retread. Volstad won't be 26 until September. He's making $2.6 million this year, which isn't cheap, and is arb-eligible, but with the record he's put up this season so far, he's not likely to be in line for a huge raise. If he can pitch anything close to Saturday night's performance for the rest of the season, maybe the Cubs will have something from the Carlos Zambrano deal after all.

There isn't a whole lot else to say about Saturday night's game. The Cubs had just three hits: Soriano's RBI double drove in Darwin Barney, who had singled. The other hit was a single by Welington Castillo. Luis Valbuena managed to walk twice. That was it for the offense. Credit to Kershaw, who, after all, was one of the best pitchers in the National League last year; he hasn't been quite as dominant this year, but sure looked the part Saturday night.

The Cubs have now lost 10 straight games in NL West parks -- nine this year, and the last game of 2011, which was played in San Diego. The Dodgers decided to slot in the just-acquired Joe Blanton to start instead of Aaron Harang Sunday afternoon -- and Blanton has already defeated the Cubs once this season.

Thus the Cubs' road trips of horror are likely to continue; their 16-38 road record is second-worst in the major leagues (only the Astros, at 11-45, are worse). This afternoon's game preview will post at 1 p.m. CDT; at that time I'll probably be arriving in Peoria for the Chiefs game. I'll recap that game, as well as the Cubs', when I return early Sunday evening.