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Cubs find a way to drop another game
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Cubs' Mike Fontenot reacts after he was tagged out at home by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Francisco Cordero in the ninth inning Monday.


Associated Press

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning Monday.


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Published: 5/5/2008 10:12 PM | Updated: 5/6/2008 11:28 AM

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CINCINNATI -- Lou Piniella is doing his best to hold in the anger these days.

Whether that's healthy, who knows? But the Cubs manager was doing a slow burn most of Monday night during and after a 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cubs have dropped eight of their last 11 to fall to 18-14. They also played some sloppy ball on a strange evening when everything seemed to go against them.

"Well, when you're losing baseball games, that's what happens," Piniella said. "They shouldn't, if you want to get out of this funk."

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The Cubs were none too happy with home-plate umpire Tim Welke, who kicked hitting coach Gerald Perry out of the game in the second inning. Apparently Perry felt Welke's strike zone was super sized.

Cubs fielders committed 2 errors, making all 5 runs against starting pitcher Ryan Dempster unearned.

The capper for Piniella came in the ninth, when the Cubs had the bases loaded and one out. With Ryan Theriot at the plate, a pitch by Francisco Cordero got away from catcher Paul Bako and bounced several feet into the grass in foul territory.

Mike Fontenot tried to score from third, and he looked to have beat Bako's throw, but Welke called him out.

"That play in the last inning, it's aggressive, but not in a 2-run game," Piniella said. "You almost have to be assured that you can fall down and still score before you go. If it's a 1-run game, it's a different story if you want to take your chance. But you still … But it happened. What can you do?

"Then we got sloppy with the glove."

Fontenot made no excuses.

"I thought it went further than it did," he said. "All in all, it just ended up being a bad decision on my part, especially with the bases loaded and one out. I thought I might have got in there, but he called me out. So it ended up being a bad decision by me."

Theriot walked to reload the bases, but Derrek Lee grounded out to end the game.

"Yeah, it was frustrating," Lee said. "Again, man, I've had two chances to give us wins, and I didn't get it done. You can put these last two on me. It's been a bad road trip."

Dempster struck out six in the first two innings, but he fell behind 3-0 in the first. After singles by Ken Griffey and Brandon Phillips, Fontenot fumbled Joey Votto's grounder for an error.

Edwin Encarnacion walked to force home 1 run, and Jeff Keppinger singled with two outs. In the third, Encarnacion grounded one through Mark DeRosa at third base for an error. Adam Dunn followed with a 463-foot homer to right-center.

The Cubs got a solo homer from Geovany Soto in the fourth before scoring 2 in the fifth, but that was it.

"It's still a loss, that's the biggest thing," said Dempster, who pitched 6 innings and saw his ERA fall from 3.16 to 2.72. "I had a chance to pick some of my teammates up and make a pitch or something and get out of some situations and didn't do it. Frustrating.

"We had chances to get back in it. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. You don't want to lose ballgames that way."

Reds 5, Cubs 3

At the plate: Geovany Soto hit his sixth homer of the season, a solo shot to left in the second. For the third time this year, Soto came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Mark DeRosa struck out three times.

On the mound: Ryan Dempster (4-1, 2.72 ERA) gave up 5 unearned runs in 6 innings. He allowed 4 hits, including a 2-run homer to Adam Dunn in the third. Chad Fox recorded a key out in the seventh. Kerry Wood went 1-2-3 in the eighth.

-- Bruce Miles