Cubs' offense held in check by Haren

Cubs held in check by Haren

PHOENIX -- Snake-bit against Arizona ever since the D-backs' birth in 1998, the Cubs could do little to reverse that trend Monday night.

They certainly picked the wrong guy to try to do it against, Dan Haren, who beat them with both his bat and his arm on a night Cubs starter Ted Lilly wobbled.

Haren and Chris Young delivered back-to-back two-run doubles with two outs in the fourth inning, snapping a tie and sparking the D-backs to a 7-2 win over the Cubs.

The Cubs' fifth loss in six games evened their record at 9-9 and lowered them four games behind the National League Central-leading Cardinals. It also dropped Chicago's all-time record here to 14-28, excluding the first two games of Arizona's NL Division Series sweep in 2007.

Haren's clutch, if somewhat lucky, hit was a nice inset to the masterpiece he painted on the mound: a complete-game three-hitter in which he struck out 10 without a walk and retired 20 of the last 21 men he faced.

"He sure had excellent stuff today," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who preferred focusing on Haren's artistry than his team's ragged play.

Asked about the Cubs' defense, which committed three errors and allowed the D-backs to run wild on the bases, Piniella retorted, "What defense?"

Arizona's aggression on the bases -- five steals and a sixth attempt that drew an error -- definitely got the manager's attention.

"I wasn't surprised by it, because it was in the scouting report," Piniella said. "But it's something we'll try to do something about [Tuesday]."

No, Piniella wasn't referring to having his fielders lasso Arizona runners. Rather, he may start backup catcher Koyie Hill, to give Geovany Soto a double blow.

"Geovany is struggling with the bat, too," Piniella said of last year's NL Rookie of the Year, whose average dipped to .119 after an 0-for-3. "We'll give him a chance to work on some things."

Two of Monday night's three errors belonged to pinch third baseman Mike Fontenot, needed to fill in at the position while Aramis Ramirez nurses himself back from a calf injury.

"When you have to move people around, that will happen," Piniella said.

After Lilly (2-2) had uncharacteristically helped load the bases with two walks -- the NL's early control leader began the game with a season total of two walks -- Haren chopped the first pitch to him at and over third baseman Fontenot's head.

"I told him to have them stop picking on me," said Fontenot, who seemed to spend much of the night helplessly watching balls hit just out of his reach. "I jumped trying to get [Haren's] ball, but it was just too high."

Young then followed with a drive into the left-center gap to extend Arizona's lead to 5-1.

Given the big lead, after having received a total of three runs in his first four starts, Haren (2-3) remained on the roll he had already begun.

"He was on, with a good fastball and slider and good location," said Alfonso Soriano, who had provided the Cubs' lone lead of the night with a leadoff homer in the first.

"When someone is pitching a great game, it's a chance for me to go out there and compete with him and give the team a chance to win," Lilly said. "I just didn't get it done.

"First thing, I couldn't locate the fastball -- and there is no excuse for that."

Lilly allowed five runs and six hits in his five innings, a stint too short to satisfy him.

"I can't say I deserved to stay out there, but I would have liked to," he said.

The lone exception to Haren's closing kick was Fontenot, who capped a fabulous eighth-inning at-bat (12 pitches, six two-strike fouls) with his second homer of the season.

"He threw everything he had at me," Fontenot said, "until I got a slider I could drive."

The Cubs had taken a lead on Haren's third pitch of the game, deposited in the left-field seats by Soriano.

Chris Snyder's solo homer in the second tied it for the D-backs.

The game-opening shot was Soriano's 52nd career leadoff homer, meaning one-fifth of his career total of 276 has come in that role. It also left him within one of Craig Biggio's total of 53, second on the all-time list to Rickey Henderson's 81.

Milton Bradley resurfaced for his first at-bat since April 24, striking out on three pitches as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter.

Bradley, sufficiently recovered from a groin injury, will be back in the starting lineup for Tuesday night's second game of the series. His return will provide a welcome emotional lift. As for practical help, that depends on how quickly Bradley can add a third digit to his .042 average.

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