The quotes from Cubs manager Lou Piniella sounded about the same as they've sounded all year.
"We need to start hitting the ball better with men on base," Piniella said during a short-and-sweet postgame news conference.
And this was after a Cubs victory.
The Cubs took advantage of a couple of breaks handed to them by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday and finally got a timely hit in a 4-3 victory that staved off a three-game sweep.
Former Cub Ronny Cedeno's error prolonged the seventh inning, and Derrek Lee capped a 2-run rally with an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.
In the eighth, some heads-up baserunning by Alfonso Soriano, going from first to third on a stolen base and wild pitch, set the stage for pinch hitter Xavier Nady to single home the eventual game-winner.
Piniella's demeanor, which remains grouchy, is a clear indication that even the manager isn't sure whether Sunday's win was a new beginning or yet another false start for the Cubs, who are 16-22 and 51/2 games behind the upstart Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central.
"I think that was the key of the win today - we got very big hits at the big moments," Soriano said. "That's what we've got to do more often to get some wins."
In Friday's and Saturday's losses, the Cubs fell behind the Pirates 3-0 in the first inning. On Sunday, they waited until the second to get down by that same score as the Pirates picked up 3 hits off Cubs starting pitcher Ted Lilly.
After that, Lilly settled down and gave the Cubs 7 innings. He didn't get the win, but that didn't seem to matter to him.
"That's the whole point: Find a way to win the game whether we're going to have to score a lot of runs or get some clutch hits," said Lilly, who is fighting his way back from shoulder surgery. "Fortunately, we were able to do that late in the game today.
"I think that I'm still trying to figure it out a little bit. I guess that's part of it. I'm sure there's a lot of guys out there who have to go out there and battle and make the adjustments from one game to the next.
"I feel like I'm doing that right now. As long as we're winning, I'm going to go out there and do everything to keep us in the game."
The Cubs aren't hitting, but they used some hustle and defense to beat the Pirates, who had a chance to break open their 3-1 lead in the seventh.
Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf came up to bunt with runners on first and second with one out. After fouling off a pitch, he pulled back and hit one to right. Kosuke Fukudome had to race back and make a sprawling catch, one Lilly called a "game-saver."
In the eighth, Soriano singled with one out. After Mike Fontenot flied out, Soriano stole second and kept going on a wild pitch by D.J. Carrasco.
'It goes to show you if you hustle, you make things happen," Piniella said.
"I just looked, and I saw the wild pitch," Soriano said. "I saw the catcher was a little slow looking for the ball and said, 'Man, I've got a chance to make this play.' "
It set it up for Nady, who was 0-for-9 as a pitch hitter this year.
"Obviously, we haven't been playing that well, and to get a win and hopefully build on something is always encouraging," Nady said.
Bruce Miles' game tracker
Cubs 4, Pirates 3
Pitch counting: Cubs starting pitcher Ted Lilly threw 109 pitches, 70 for strikes. His counts per inning were 9, 32, 7, 14, 9, 8 and 30. Lilly turned in the Cubs' 24th quality start. The Cubs are 11-13 in quality-start games, and the starters have a 2.39 ERA in those games.
Byrd watching: Center fielder Marlon Byrd went 2-for-4 with a double. He has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games and in 22 of his last 26, going 43-for-108 (.398) during that run.
Streaking: First baseman Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to six games by going 2-for-4. He's 9-for-24 in the streak.
Sweet relief: Carlos Marmol earned his sixth save in 7 chances. Sean Marshall (2-1) got the win by working a scoreless eighth. Opposing batters are hitting .177 off Marshall.