Now, they're 3-1 on this homestand, and all three wins have been by one run. Something's different.
"It's starting to reflect more confidence here," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said about winning one-run games. "We weren't winning those games earlier in the year. You've got to win the tight ballgames."
Cesar Izturis hit a clutch two-run double with one out in the eighth inning to lift the Cubs to a 5-4 Interleague victory Thursday over the Mariners.
There are other signs. Izturis, benched because of Ryan Theriot's success and a .125 average at Wrigley Field, delivered the key hit. Koyie Hill successfully executed a sacrifice in the eighth to set up Izturis' hit. The bullpen has totaled 11 scoreless innings in four games on this homestand, with the only hiccup in the 13th on Tuesday against the Mariners.
Here's another stat worth noting: The Cubs are 8-4 since Piniella's temper tantrum.
"We needed it," Cubs infielder Mark DeRosa said of the outburst. "I mean, enough was enough. I'm not saying there aren't going to be games when we make miscues. I think the thing we need to eliminate is mental miscues. Guys are going to hit home runs off our pitchers, guys are going to make errors, guys are going to get thrown out stealing, but it's the mental miscues that killed us early on."
With Thursday's win, the Cubs took the series, their first at home since taking two out of three against the White Sox on May 18-20.
"One run, 10 runs -- any win is a huge confidence booster," Hill said. "To take two out of three from a team that had won five in a row is huge."
With the Cubs trailing 4-3, Brandon Morrow (3-1) walked DeRosa and Mike Fontenot on nine pitches to open the eighth, and both advanced on Hill's sacrifice.
"I was telling Theriot in the dugout that every time I bunt, I've bunted for a hit," Hill said. "I know what I'm doing as far as sacrificing, but my instincts, it looked like I was trying to bunt for a hit. I'm just glad the outcome was what it was."
Izturis, who had seven hits in his last 40 at-bats, slapped a double down the left-field line to drive in both runners.
"[The pitch] was middle in, and I was just trying to make contact and drive in at least one run," Izturis said.
Bob Howry (3-3) picked up the win, and has not given up a run in his last 8 1/3 innings over seven games.
"Everything's coming together," said Howry, who has noticed his velocity has improved. "It's hard to explain -- if I knew how to fix it, I wouldn't have had a terrible two months."
If the Cubs knew how to avoid some of the mistakes they made in the first two months, they could've fixed them as well.
"I think we have a good feeling right now, and we have to get ready for the next series," Izturis said.
Cubs starter Jason Marquis did not get a decision, and has not won since May 9 when he threw a three-hit shutout against Pittsburgh. The right-hander is 0-2 in his last seven starts. The problem had been his location.
"I think he gets a little stubborn at times and wants to throw the ball harder instead of pitching," Piniella said before the game. "I think he'll get back on track."
Marquis looked as if he were headed in the right direction for five innings, holding the Mariners to one hit -- a one-out double by Jamie Burke in the third -- and striking out five.
The Cubs gave Marquis a 3-0 lead in the first when Alfonso Soriano ended an 0-for-21 skid with a double, then scored on Felix Pie's triple. Cliff Floyd hit an RBI single and Fontenot hit an RBI triple.
In the Seattle sixth, Marquis hit Seattle starter Jeff Weaver on the elbow, then walked Ichiro Suzuki. Jose Lopez hit a grounder to DeRosa at third, but he couldn't get his glove on the ball, and Weaver scored on the error. Jose Guillen walked to load the bases, and Raul Ibanez cleared them with his double to go ahead 4-3.
"It ate me up -- it happens sometimes," DeRosa said of the play. "It's terrible it happened in that situation. Jason was cruising the whole game. He got the double-play ball, and I didn't get it done."
Marquis missed on two pitches. That's it.
"Two pitches cost me there," he said. "Obviously, the hit-by-pitch to Weaver, and leaving that ball up to Ibanez. He did what he was supposed to do with it. For the most part, I felt good, and luckily we came out of there with the win."
There seems to be a lot of positives here.
"So far on this homestand, we're 3-1, and let's hope our good fortune continues," Piniella said. "The kids are playing hard and the team's playing hard, and we're starting to see some nice things here, slowly but surely."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.