Cubs drop finale, series vs. Orioles

Cubs drop finale, series vs. Orioles

CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella thought his Cubs caught a break when the Interleague schedule came out with three American League East opponents not named Boston or New York. Not exactly.

The Wrigley Field magic ran out for the Cubs, who lost 11-4 to the Orioles on Thursday and dropped their first home series since losing two of three to Milwaukee April 29-May 1. A week after getting swept at Tampa Bay, the Cubs again limp into a weekend fling with the White Sox.

The blowout snapped a string of seven straight home series wins. The Cubs won 14 in a row at the Friendly Confines during that span and were trying to become the first Major League team to 50 victories on the season. They will look to rebound on the South Side to begin a 10-game road trip.

Manager "Sweet" Lou Piniella was anything but after the game.

"We're so banged up that right now, let me tell you what, let's just get through the [darn] game, and I'm happy," he said.

The Cubs were without Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson and Carlos Zambrano for all of the Baltimore series, and Kosuke Fukudome sat on the bench for the final two games. Soriano, Johnson and Zambrano won't be ready this weekend, and Fukudome's status is up in the air. Furthermore, reliever Scott Eyre exited Thursday's loss with groin discomfort. Can an emotional push power the Cubs through the injuries in the passion-filled cross-town series?

"Emotion to me is good pitching and good hitting and solid defense," Piniella said. "I call that emotion. You want the other kind of emotion, you go to a rock concert ... or a church."

In his shortest outing of the season, Cubs starter Jason Marquis (6-4) was lit up for seven runs in four innings. He broke a streak of wins in four straight starts and suffered his first loss since May 13.

"It just wasn't very good today," said Marquis, who walked three and struck out three. "After those first two innings, I started falling behind hitters and leaving too many pitches out over the middle of the plate, and put my team in a bad position to win the game."

Marquis lost control in a 32-pitch third and gave up the first five runs, all with two outs. Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis plated two more on a double the next inning before Jon Lieber came in. Aubrey Huff (4-for-5, three runs, two RBIs) doubled for the third time to lead off the fifth, and scored two outs later to go up 8-0.

"We got beat up," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "It looked like they were having fun."

The Cubs managed three runs in the sixth on RBI singles from Henry Blanco, Daryle Ward and Eric Patterson. Mike Fontenot singled and came home in the eighth on a Patterson sacrifice fly. Piniella cycled through his bench as the game fell more and more out of reach.

The Cubs stroked 10 hits, all singles. Ward had base knocks in both of his at-bats off the bench. At least somebody gained momentum heading into rematch beweteen the Cubs and White Sox.

"That did feel pretty good," said Ward, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and is expected to be a designated hitter at U.S. Cellular Field. "Unfortunately, we didn't really have that good of a game. Personally, that was an opportunity for me to get some at-bats and kind of warm up a little bit for a start coming up here against the Sox."

Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.