Cubs Team Report: April 29

Fontenot has six-game hit streak (STAFF/PAM DAVIS)

After a weekend sweep in Milwaukee, where it looked as if the bats had finally awoken for good, the Cubs fell back into their old ways in losing two of three at home to the Nationals.

In Wednesday's 3-2 defeat, the Cubs were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and they left 11 runners on base.

Manager Lou Piniella is growing impatient.

"I don't know," Piniella said. "Talk to the players. We should be able to get some people in. We're getting some people on. We should be able to get them in."

First baseman Derrek Lee, who is batting .203, offered his take.

"It's not hard to fathom; it's disappointing," Lee said. "It's a series, you win the first game, you expect to win the series. It didn't happen, so it's disappointing. We didn't get the big hit. We gave ourselves a couple of opportunities but didn't pull through. It doesn't help I'm not getting on base, driving guys in, sitting in the middle of the order."

The Cubs have wasted six straight quality starts by their pitchers.

"Our starting pitching here has been really good," Piniella said, noting the team has lost eight times when scoring two runs or fewer. "That's something we've got to get better at. It's very, very difficult to win when you don't score runs. You don't see many 1-0 wins. You don't see many 2-1 wins."

NATIONALS 3, CUBS 2: Washington's Adam Dunn broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth with a solo homer off Ryan Dempster. The Cubs tied the game at 1-1 in the first and 2-2 in the second, but they could not get the timely hitting despite outhitting Washington 9-4.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Dempster is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Four of Dempster's five starts have been quality starts. He refused to blame the offense after Wednesday's loss.

"I look at it the other way; I could have picked them up on a day where a guy (Nats pitcher Luis Atlilano) was making some big pitches in big situations and keeping our guys under control," he said.

Dempster's eight innings pitched were a season high.

--Lee was 1-for-5 and is now hitting .203. He was 1-for-13 in the three-game series.

"I have to start pulling my weight as well," he said. "It's not bad luck. When you're not swinging the bat correctly, those things happen. When you're swinging it correctly, you seem to find the holes."

--Marlon Byrd made a "blind" catch of a ball hit by Atilano in the fifth. Byrd fought a tough sun, turned his face to the wall and caught the ball behind his back.

"It was all luck," he said. "It was one of those see it at the last minute, sun's in your eyes, try to get to a position, stick your glove out."

--Mike Fontenot was 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to a season-high six games. He has hit safely in 10 of 11 games and is batting .308. But he grounded out with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and popped out with the tying run on second and nobody out in the eighth.

--Xavier Nady walked as a pinch hitter. Piniella has talked of getting the right-handed-hitting Nady a start against a right-handed pitcher, but that didn't happen in this series. Nady is still on the mend from last July's Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The Cubs say Nady is coming along fine and that they didn't expect him to be at full strength until around June 1 anyway.

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