Cubs drop finale in sweep at Dome

Cubs drop finale in sweep at Dome

MINNEAPOLIS -- Having Derrek Lee back didn't change the Cubs' luck.

Torii Hunter and Luis Rodriguez each hit solo homers to back Brad Radke and lift the Minnesota Twins to an 8-1 victory Sunday over the mistake-prone Cubs, completing a sweep of the Interleague series.

"We didn't play very good defense at all," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "[Sean Marshall] pitched a better game. He should've only given up a couple runs. We made errors. The one part of our game that's been pretty good has been our defensive side. I know it's a little tough to see those balls here in the daytime in the [Metrodome], but we didn't play very good defense at all."

Balls were bobbled, balls skipped past fielders, and balls dropped in between players. It was sloppy. Was the problem a lack of concentration?

"No," Baker said. "It was just physical errors."

It's the eighth time the Cubs have been swept this year, and their 10th loss in the last 12 games. They return to National League play Monday with a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, but Wrigley Field hasn't been especially kind. The Cubs are 12-20 there.

The Cubs avoided being shut out for the ninth time when Henry Blanco hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth.

Lee tried. He made the five-hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, to the Twin Cities on Saturday night after playing one game for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs and started as the designated hitter. It was his first game with the team since he fractured his right wrist April 19.

He could've been a hero in the first when the Cubs had two on and nobody out, but Radke (6-7) struck him out. He wasn't alone. The Cubs were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Lee did single in the third, but grounded out in the fifth, and struck out again in the eighth.

"Today, I didn't have any timing," Lee said. "Hopefully, it comes quick. All you can do is get at-bats. That's the best thing to help you get rolling."

Lee was more frustrated by the mistakes the Cubs made.

"You can't give away runs and that's what we did today," he said.

Radke stifled the Cubs, giving up seven hits and one walk over seven innings while striking out six. Radke retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.

Rookie Sean Marshall (4-6) gave up five runs on six hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings, while striking out three. The left-hander dropped to 1-5 in his last seven starts and is going through some growing pains.

"I've got enough starts under my belt to know how to win and how to keep the team in the game," Marshall said. "Unfortunately, I had a couple bad pitches that made me pay a little bit. Hopefully, we'll keep up the way we've been swinging and keep up our defense and we'll be fine."

With one out in the Twins' second, Justin Morneau walked and reached third on a single by Hunter and fielding error by left fielder Matt Murton. Both scored on Ruben Sierra's single.

It got ugly in the Twins' third. Nick Punto and Mike Redmond both singled, and Michael Cuddyer then singled to right to drive in a run. Redmond and Cuddyer both advanced on the play on an errant throw by right fielder Jacque Jones.

Morneau then bounced a single to right between second baseman Todd Walker and first baseman Phil Nevin. The two apparently got their signals crossed because they glanced at each other, then both backed away from the ball. Redmond scored on the mental error. Hunter hit into a fielder's choice, allowing Cuddyer to score and take a 5-0 lead.

What happened?

"It's a situation where if it's hit to him, I'm going to watch the third-base runner and see where he's going and vice versa," Walker said. "The ball was hit to him, and I was looking at Redmond and didn't see it, never saw it. I was telling him 'No, no,' and I guess he thought I meant, 'Let it go,' and he stopped. It's a typical example of what could go wrong, does go wrong."

Which has happened a lot to the Cubs this year.

"I don't know who wanted the ball," Baker said. "Somebody has to get the ball. That was a bad one."

It wasn't the last one. Sierra dropped a single between three Cubs in shallow left to open the sixth, Lew Ford walked, and one batter later, Luis Castillo slapped a single to shortstop Neifi Perez. He made a great stop but then bounced a throw to Aramis Ramirez at third, and the ball skipped past for an error, allowing another run to score.

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