Tough luck continues for reeling Cubs

Tough luck continues for reeling Cubs

CHICAGO -- Anything that could go wrong is going wrong for the Chicago Cubs.

"The baseball gods are testing us," Cubs reliever LaTroy Hawkins said.

Hawkins' throwing error in the ninth inning led to two Philadelphia runs and helped the Phillies post a 3-2 victory Friday over the Cubs, who lost their sixth in a row in another freakish way.

The Cubs had taken a 2-1 lead in the eighth on Derrek Lee's two-run homer off Billy Wagner, who had not given up a run in 11 innings this year. Mark Prior was in line for the win after striking out 10.

Pat Burrell singled to lead off the Phillies' ninth against Hawkins, who was vying for his fifth save. Pinch-runner Jason Michaels advanced on a single by David Bell that deflected off Hawkins. One out later, pinch-hitter Jose Offerman walked to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Placido Polanco then hit a comebacker to Hawkins, who fielded the ball and turned to throw to Lee. The throw hit Offerman in the helmet and ricocheted into the stands. Two runs scored on the error, and the Phillies took a 3-2 lead.

"It hit the helmet. I couldn't hit it again if I needed to," Hawkins said of his throw.

"That's a first for me," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "I've seen just about everything."

On Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers won, 6-5, on a bloop RBI single in the ninth by Carlos Lee off Hawkins.

"Yesterday, they hit a bloop and get a run. Today, it's the same thing -- ground balls off his foot," Lee said. "You couldn't do that again. It's just very unfortunate."

"I feel so bad for Hawk," Cubs second baseman Jerry Hairston said.

It's been a weird week.

"Everything usually averages out," Prior said. "We've got to keep coming out here and playing baseball. We can't dwell on what happened today because we have a game tomorrow. Nobody likes to lose six in a row or five in a row or whatever we're at."

It's six, the longest skid since the Cubs lost nine straight May 8-18, 2002.

"I've been on a couple teams where I've seen stuff like this," Cubs outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said. "It's a bummer."

In hindsight, Hawkins (1-3) said he should've held on to the ball.

"I made a bad play, plain and simple," he said. "A bad play -- I should've held on to it."

"That's a tough call," Lee said. "Your instincts take over. A perfect throw, who knows? Maybe you get him doubled up and get out of the inning. That's a tough call. You see the guy off the base and you're going to make that throw. It would've been close -- it would've been a bang-bang play. You never know."

Baker defended Hawkins' effort.

   LaTroy Hawkins  /   P
Born: 12/21/72
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"If you have a chance at a double play to end the game and the inning, you take a chance," Baker said. "The big play was that ball that David Bell hit [that deflected off Hawkins)."

Prior struck out 10 over eight innings, posting his second double-digit strikeout game this year and 17th of his career. He gave up four hits and walked two.

The Cubs were trailing, 1-0, in the eighth when pinch-hitter Jose Macias singled, only the fourth hit off Phillies starter Cory Lidle. Two outs later, Lee drove a 3-1 pitch from Wagner into the center-field backdrop for his ninth home run.

Lee also hit a double in the fourth, and now has a career-high 17-game hitting streak. It's tough to enjoy.

Burrell gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead with his seventh home run leading off the second, driving a 1-1 pitch from Prior into the basket that rims the left-field bleachers. The Phillies then loaded the bases with none out, but Prior escaped by striking out Mike Lieberthal, Lidle and Jimmy Rollins. Prior then fanned the next two batters leading off the third.

"I was fortunate to get out of there with only one run," Prior said. "As far as the rest of the game, I knocked down a little bit on my fastball and worried more about location and mechanics and was able to induce some ground balls."

The crowd of 38,767 at Wrigley Field voiced its displeasure as the Cubs left the field. That's not going to help, Lee said.

"You understand how the fans feel," Lee said. "They want us to win. If you want a guy to do better, you show a little support. That's what we're doing in here. If you show support, maybe it'll get better."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.