MILWAUKEE—The Cubs have disintegrated into a $75 million homecoming opponent.
The Brewers are only so happy to host them for two more games this weekend. Milwaukee is 4-0 against the Cubs and 9-29 against the rest of baseball.
Wrigley Field (6-14).
"It's frustrating," Cubs manager Don Baylor said after watching his team fall 6-2 Friday night for their eighth straight defeat.
On top of their usual poor hitting, two defensive gaffes helped doom the Cubs.
The first came in the fifth inning with the Brewers leading 1-0 and Matt Clement pitching well.
With one out and runners at first and second, pitcher Glendon Rusch did what everyone knew he wouldlay down a sacrifice bunt.
The ball rolled far enough away from catcher Joe Girardi that by the time he snagged it, Rusch was three strides from first base. Clement admitted he should have left the mound to make the play.
"It looked like it was sticking and then it kicked out and froze me," he said. "It's my fault; I should be coming hard at it. I take the blame."
Alex Sanchez lined Clement's next pitch into right field for a three-run triple.
After Bill Mueller responded two innings later with a two-run, pinch-hit homerthe Cubs' first home run since May 9they could not keep the game within two runs.
Reliever Pat Mahomes retired the first two batters in the seventh before Lenny Harris singled to right. Mahomes caught Harris leaning toward second and fired a pickoff throw to first that Fred McGriff dropped.
It was the latest case of McGriff's defense costing the Cubs.
The 38-year-old cleanup hitter didn't help with his bat, either. He went 0-for-4, hitting weak flyouts in his final two at-bats and swinging on the first pitch both times.
"He has been pretty much a first-ball hitter," Baylor said. "We've talked to him about that, but that's what he likes to do."
There were other holes in the Cubs' lineup. Chris Stynes, making his first start since May 4, went hitless in three at-bats.
"Stynes needed to play," said Baylor, who batted him second. "He's still on this team."
Bobby Hill, batting eighth for the first time, struck out with the bases loaded in the second. After reaching on a bunt, he was caught looking with one out and a runner at third.
Sammy Sosa, who entered with a .403 road batting average, the highest in the National League, went 0-for-3 with a walk. Two of his outs were soft grounders back to the pitcher.
Not even the heralded Mark Prior performed well Friday. He gave up five runs (three earned) in four innings in New Orleans for Triple-A Iowa.
"He didn't look as crisp and sharp as his other outings," said team Vice President Jim Hendry, who was there. "But he wasn't as bad as his line either."
As proof of that, the Cubs plan to announce as early as Saturday that Prior will make his major-league debut Wednesday night against Pittsburgh.