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Cubs let one get away as Wood blows save against Reds
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Cubs closer Kerry Wood glares as he watches the Reds celebrate their ninth-inning victory Sunday.


Associated Press

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Published: 9/8/2008 12:05 AM

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CINCINNATI - Cubs manager Lou Piniella apparently didn't want to share his thoughts with the media or the public about Sunday's shocking 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

That left it to first baseman and team leader Derrek Lee to assess things.

"We still can't panic," Lee said, seemingly fully apprised of the mood among fans in Chicago. "We're still in good shape. We just need to do better. We're a better team than this, and we would like to play better. You don't ever want to play under your talent level, and that's what we're doing right now.

"We're in a funk. We're in a skid. We've got to just fight our way out of it."

Everything fell into place for the Cubs before it all fell apart in the bottom of the ninth as they blew a 3-1 lead to the lowly Reds. Closer Kerry Wood looked rusty and received both a loss and a blown save, his sixth. Some shaky defense also hurt.

Jim Edmonds was charged with a tough error as he charged but couldn't come up with Edwin Encarnacion's leadoff single, enabling Encarnacion to take second. Wood walked Jay Bruce before Ryan Hanigan helped the Cubs by bunting into a forceout.

Wood walked Javier Valentin to load the bases. Pinch hitter Chris Dickerson then bounced one up the middle. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno reached up, got his glove on the ball but couldn't make the play as the ball skittered away.

Originally, the play was scored an error that allowed 2 runs to score, but the scorer later changed his mind and generously gave Dickerson a double.

"I think it's a really tough play; it's a tough hop," Cedeno said. "I'm not trying to do too much, because if I get to the ball, it's going to be the same. It's going to be a tough out, too.

"I've got to go back and get one in that situation because it's the bases loaded. If I make one, we still win. We're still 3-2. For me, it's real frustrating because I'm trying to make that play."

Jolbert Cabrera ended it with a sharp RBI single to left, drawing the ire of Wood as he walked off the field. Wood appeared not to like Cabrera's celebratory histrionics.

"He enjoyed it a lot," Wood said, allowing reporters to read between the lines.

Nobody on the Cubs has enjoyed their recent history. After snapping a six-game losing streak Saturday, the Cubs spoiled a quality start by Sean Marshall, who went 6 decent innings, and good bullpen work by Neal Cotts and Carlos Marmol with the disastrous ninth.

"That one hurts," Lee said. "We didn't play good defense that inning. That's what it came down do. We just handed them the game right there.

"It's unfortunate. We get so spoiled by going into the eighth and ninth with leads. We usually win those games. Today, we didn't do it."

The Cubs fell to 86-57 but held their 4-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central after the Brewers were thumped by San Diego.

The offense fell back into its silent ways, which probably was another reason Piniella blew off reporters.

Geovany Soto's double-play grounder tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth, when the Cubs looked poised for a big inning against Aaron Harang.

The Cubs got 2 runs in the seventh, with Cedeno doubling in the go-ahead run and Mike Fontenot hitting a sacrifice fly. However, Lee hit into an inning-ending forceout. The Cubs stranded 10 runners, including seven over the last three innings.

"We should have scored more runs today," Lee said. "We got enough hits to have more runs on the board. It just didn't happen today."