A day off and a trade couldn't have come at a better time for the Cubs, a chance to lick their wounds and hope for better things.
And, oh, those wounds are large after Sunday's 13-6 drubbing by Arizona that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicated and meant the Cubs lost three of four to a team that came into Wrigley Field five games under .500.
Derrek Lee said.
That could be easier said than done, even with Matt Lawton being ready for the road trip to Philadelphia and New York, two teams right in the middle of the National League wild-card race with the Cubs, who trail Houston by four games.
"Every game seems to be bigger than the last one, especially when you don't win," catcher Michael Barrett said. "It seems like every game we play from here on out is going to be against a playoff-contending team."
The Diamondbacks outscored the Cubs 25-12, which includes four meaningless eighth-inning Cubs runs Sunday. And they outhomered the Cubs 5-0 on Sunday, when the wind was blowing out.
In addition to the Cubs' usual offensive problems, their pitching staff also faltered on Sunday.
Starter Greg Maddux (8-8) left after giving up his fifth run with no outs in the fifth inning, his second-shortest outing of the season. Maddux is averaging just over six innings in his 23 starts.
"He didn't run out of gas, he just put too many balls in the heart of the plate," manager Dusty Baker said. "They've got guys who can hit it out of the park, and that's what they did."
After three hitless innings, Maddux was pounded for five hits and four runs in the fourth inning, including a home run by Luis Gonzalez.
The next inning, back-to-back doubles by Chad Tracy and Gonzalez increased the Arizona lead to 5-1 and ended Maddux's day. But the trouble wasn't over.
Four more runs came home after Mike Remlinger entered the game, all of them on Chris Snyder's grand slam.
In the sixth inning Gonzalez added a second homer, and in the seventh Snyder added another, both of them solo shots off Sergio Mitre. And in the eighth, Tony Clark added a two-run blast off Mitre, making it 13-2.
The Cubs added four consolation runs in the eighth inning off reliever Mike Koplove, but by then most of the 39,285 there for the first pitch were long gone.
Cubs batters got only three hits off Arizona starter Brandon Webb (9-8) in seven innings.
Sunday's game was the last in a stretch of 17 straight, and after Monday's day off, the Cubs start a 16-game stretch on Tuesday.
"This is the toughest time of the year energy-wise," Baker said. "It's a tough time of the year for the pitching staff. If you have one or two short games, it can have repercussions for a week sometimes."
So now the Cubs will have a day to regroup and ponder their future, which includes Lawton on Tuesday and Kerry Wood, Scott Williamson and Nomar Garciaparra on Friday.
Can one player, such as Lawton, make an impact on a slumbering offense?
"You never know," Lee said. "You get one guy hot and it can rub off."
ARIZONA 13, CUBS 6