Offensive woes continue to plague Cubs

Offensive woes continue to plague Cubs

PHILADELPHIA -- It's become a recurring theme this season, and one that Lou Piniella has grown weary of watching: The Cubs get solid pitching, and not just by their starter but also the bullpen, and can't score any runs to back them up.

"We pitched really well," Piniella said after Tuesday's 4-1, 13-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. "We've seen this movie before about not scoring runs."

And it's a rerun that makes no sense.

The Phillies now are a perfect 10. Jayson Werth smacked a walkoff three-run homer with two outs in the 13th inning off Jeff Samardzija to lift Philadelphia to its 10th straight win. With two outs, Samardzija (0-1) walked Ryan Howard, then walked Raul Ibanez, and Werth smacked a 1-1 splitter into the left-field seats in front of a sellout crowd of 45,214 at Citizens Bank Park.

"He made a good swing on the ball," Samardzija said. "Two fastballs there, out, and then went in. Came back with a splitter, and he put a good swing on it and hit it out. There's not much you can do about it."

Piniella must feel the same way about the hitters, or lack of hitting. Last year, the Cubs led the National League in runs scored, batting .278. This season, they're struggling to hit .247, and rank 13th in runs scored.

"We're challenged offensively, I can tell you that," Piniella said. "You don't score runs, you can't win. C'mon, you've got to put runs on the board, no matter how good your pitching is. You've got to put runs on the board. Today, our pitching was good and we just didn't do much.

"Give them credit," he added, "but we've played this game so many times that you're always complimenting the other team's pitching. You get tired of complimenting the other team's pitching. I'd like to compliment our hitters a little more often."

What to do?

"You know what? We might need a couple hitters here at the trading deadline," Piniella said, then ended the postgame discussion.

Rich Harden posted a quality start, his ninth, and the Cubs bullpen totaled five scoreless innings. But end result was a loss, and the Phillies can complete a sweep on Wednesday.

"These are the defending World [Series] champs," Ryan Theriot said of the Phillies. "They've got a good pitching staff, they've got some guys coming out of the bullpen who are pretty dang good. You've got to be ready when you get here. Let's hope we get the bats going tomorrow."

The conditions were just right for Harden. He was pitching at night -- he's 5-1 under the lights -- and on the road, where he's 4-1. Harden did throw a season-high 116 pitches over seven innings, striking out six, but didn't get a decision.

"It's a tough game," Harden said. "Every pitcher threw well. Facing a lineup like that, it's tough. They've got a lot of guys who can hurt you."

Harden said he took an aggressive approach at an aggressive team. What's encouraging is that the right-hander has put together back to back good outings.

"Being consistent, that's the key," he said. "I felt strong today and I was able to use my legs and was more efficient."

Jimmy Rollins led off the Phillies' third with his eighth home run, launching a 3-0 pitch from Harden into the right-field seats. But the Cubs tied the game in the fourth against Harden's former Oakland teammate, Joe Blanton, when Theriot singled to lead off, and two outs later, scored on Kosuke Fukudome's double to left-center. Fukudome advanced on a passed ball by Carlos Ruiz, but was stranded when Blanton struck out Alfonso Soriano.

"We didn't swing the bats very good today," Theriot said. "Blanton really located his breaking stuff and that was one thing, when you get in the box and he's throwing first-pitch sliders for strikes, changeups for strikes, you have to re-think your approach. We did that."

After Rollins' homer, Harden retired eight straight before the Phillies' shortstop was safe on a rare error by Derrek Lee. Rollins was then caught in a 2-6-3-4 rundown to end the Phillies' fifth.

"One swing of the bat and the game was over," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It seemed like tonight they were matching us pitcher for pitcher. Every time we'd get them out, they'd put somebody else out there who was throwing anywhere from 94 to 97 [mph]. I was thinking, 'Man, this might go awhile.'"

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