Soriano still not hitting (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
After watching his team lose for a second consecutive day to the Atlanta Braves, Cubs manager Lou Piniella had enough of talking about his inconsistent offense.
"There's nothing else to say, there really isn't," Piniella said. "We've just got to start swinging the bats better if we're going to do anything in this division or the rest of the year, and that's really the bottom line."
Before the Cubs fell 4-1 Wednesday, Piniella pointed out that the Cubs were 15th in the National League in runs scored. Last year, the Cubs led the league in scoring and won 97 games.
"We got to hit," Piniella said. "Fifteenth in the league in runs scored is not going to get it done. Period. We can mask this any way we want to mask it, but we better start scoring more runs more consistently to win baseball games."
Piniella added that the Cubs led the league in on-base percentage last year in part because they hit well and teams had to pitch them carefully. With the Cubs not scoring runs as often this year, he said pitchers don't have to be as careful.
First baseman Derrek Lee has been the team's most consistent performer, with shortstop Ryan Theriot and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome contributing in spurts. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano and right fielder Milton Bradley have been huge disappointments.
The Cubs managed just six hits against Kenshin Kawakami and the Atlanta bullpen Wednesday. Fukudome homered in the sixth, and RHP Kevin Hart, making his first major league start, gave up one run in five innings.
--Fukudome is 6-for-17 (.353) since replacing Soriano in the leadoff spot Saturday. Fukudome hit his seventh homer Wednesday; he had 10 last year. He also committed his first error of the season, letting Martin Prado's single get past him and allowing a run to score in the ninth inning.
--Hart had made 33 relief appearances in the big leagues before starting for the first time Wednesday. He gave up one run in five innings. Hart threw 89 pitches, 46 for strikes, as he walked five and struck out three. He figures to get at least another start while RHP Ryan Dempster is on the disabled list.
--RHP Carlos Zambrano, who started Tuesday's game, will work the night portion of Sunday's day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals. Zambrano had been scheduled to work Wednesday, but he was pushed up to Tuesday because of the broken right big toe suffered by Dempster. Zambrano's record fell to 4-4 Tuesday, and he hasn't won since June 5.
--C Geovany Soto was a late lineup scratch because of what the Cubs described as a "mild left oblique strain." Soto went for an MRI Wednesday evening, and the club did not put a timetable on his return or whether he'd have to go on the disabled list. Piniella said the injury was in the lower part of the oblique and not closer to the ribcage, and that gives the Cubs hope Soto won't be out long term.
--Bradley was 0-for-4 Wednesday, and his average fell to .236. Bradley is 27-for-143 (.189) batting left-handed. He's hitting .350 right-handed.
--RHP Aaron Heilman saw action for the third time in four days. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He's lowered his ERA from 5.49 to 3.57 over his last 16 outings. Heilman has pitched on back-to-back games nine times. --The Sports XChange
MONTGOMERY 6, TENNESSEE 3 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, Tenn., the Smokies (40-47 overall, 8-9 second half) were held to six hits in the loss Wednesday. 1B Doug Deeds (2-for-4) led the team in hits, and 3B Marquez Smith (1-for-3, walk) hit his 12th home run overall. He is batting .291 in 65 games with Tennessee. CF Jim Adduci (1-for-4) hit his 15th double to extend his hit streak to six games. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games overall. RHP Marcos Mateo started and received a no-decision, allowing two runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out six batters and walked three. RHP Marco Carrillo (1-1) suffered his first loss in relief. He allowed a season-high three runs and two hits in one-third of an inning to snap a 21-inning scoreless streak.
GREAT LAKES 12, PEORIA 3 (CLASS-A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (43-39, 5-8) collected 10 hits in the loss Wednesday. 1B Rebel Ridling (2-for-4) collected two doubles, and 3B Jovan Rosa (2-for-4) drove in two runs. LHP Jeff Beliveau (3-3) started and suffered the loss, as he allowed five runs and six hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked two.
BOISE 6, EUGENE 3 (CLASS LOW-A)
At Boise, the Hawks (6-13) collected nine hits in the victory Wednesday. CF Brett Jackson (2-for-3, walk, RBI) reached base three times. He has hit safely in all eight games he has played in since making his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League on July 1. RF Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-4, RBI) hit his fourth double. RHP Robert Whitenack, the Cubs’ 2009 eighth-round draft pick from SUNY Old Westbury, started and allowed one run and four hits over 3 1/3 innings for a no-decision. RHP Dionis Nunez (1-1) earned the win in relief with two scoreless innings.
ANGELS 7, CUBS 2 (ARIZONA ROOKIE LEAGUE)
At Tempe, Ariz., the Cubs (8-7) were held to three hits in the loss Wednesday. 3B Charles Thomas (2-for-3) led the team with two hits, including a triple. LHP Marcos Perez (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing three runs and four hits in one inning in relief. RHP Diego Encarnacion started and allowed one run and four hits in three innings.
At Tampa, Fla., Class High-A Daytona’s (40-40, 6-7) scheduled game against the Yankees was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. (ET).