Burnitz's bad err day costs Cubs
Jeromy Burnitz may have had tougher days in his career, but Monday's performance figures to land on his Top 10 list of forgettable moments.

Burnitz's sixth-inning error led to the only San Diego run in a 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, leaving them 3-4 on the season.

The new Cubs right fielder compounded the misplay by striking out on bad pitches with a full count to end both the sixth and eighth innings with runners in scoring position.

Unlike the man he replaced in right, Sammy Sosa, Burnitz was waiting at his locker after the game to take the media's heat.

"Honestly, there's really no feeling worse than [making a poor] defensive play that costs the team," Burnitz said. "It was a bad game on both sides of the ball. I had some really poor at-bats also. Hopefully we do a better job [Tuesday]."

Earlier in the day, the Cubs made one of the good news-bad news announcements that have become common for them over the last two seasons, welcoming back one star while placing yet another player on the disabled list.

The Cubs announced Todd Walker will be out four to six weeks with a severe ligament sprain in his left knee, and that Mark Prior will make his 2005 debut Tuesday against the Padres.

Though the Cubs have a capable defensive replacement for Walker in Neifi Perez, who will receive the bulk of the playing time at second, the injury was a blow that could damage the team's offense, at least for the short term.

"If you don't have a good team, you're just going to go through the motions, like a lot of people do these days," Walker said. "But when you have a great team and you know you have a chance to win the World Series, like we did last year and this year, then you start having injuries all over the place, it's extremely frustrating."

Monday's game was difficult to digest for the crowd of 36,791, which watched Padres starter Adam Eaton and three relievers shut out the Cubs on six hits. Ryan Dempster pitched six strong innings, yielding one run on four hits while striking out seven, but was done in by the lack of offense.

The Padres scored the only run after Burnitz misjudged a fly ball off Brian Giles' bat, dropping it near the wall for an error. After Ryan Klesko doubled off the base of the wall in right and Phil Nevin popped out, Ramon Hernandez drove home Giles with a soft bouncer to Perez.

"I felt like I was in a good position to get out of that inning," Dempster said. "Unfortunately, [Hernandez] didn't quite hit it hard enough to get the guy at home. We had the infield halfway in, and he just hit it soft enough to score the run. That happens sometimes. You take what you're dealt."

Now the Cubs turn their attention to Prior, who makes his much-anticipated 2005 debut Tuesday after missing time during spring training with a sore elbow.

"I'm frustrated, having [been injured] the last couple of years," Prior said. "The first two times I was hurt (in 2002 and '03), it wasn't necessarily pitching-related. Last year (Achilles' tendon injury) was frustrating. This year it really hasn't been a big deal. I didn't think I was going to miss a whole lot of time.

"Personally, sure I'm bummed. I wanted to pitch this spring and have a good time. But I'm working hard to go out to help this ballclub win some games, and hopefully we can make a push to the playoffs."

psullivan@tribune.com