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LAD@CHC: Cubs turn a double play to get out of a jam

CHICAGO -- The Cubs weren't able to rally from five runs down two days in a row.

The Dodgers scored five runs in the first inning Sunday to beat the Cubs, 7-3, and snap Carlos Zambrano's win streak at 10 games. Aaron Miles had three hits and James Loney drove in two runs to power Los Angeles, which outscored Chicago, 27-15, in the series.

"It's over with," said Zambrano, who was 10-0 with a 2.08 ERA since Aug. 14. "Let's get a new winning streak. I knew sooner or later I was going to lose a game. Unfortunately, it was today."

The right-hander gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings in his shortest outing of the season.

The Dodgers pounced early as Miles tripled to lead off the game and Zambrano hit Casey Blake with his fourth pitch. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp hit consecutive RBI singles and Jerry Sands drilled an RBI double down the right-field line. James Loney made the first out when he grounded out to first baseman Carlos Pena, but a run still scored. Rod Barajas' sacrifice fly gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead and prompted an animated argument from Cubs manager Mike Quade, who thought Sands broke too soon from third.

"We ran into bad luck," Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said. "We're trying to get the first strike, and Miles ends up with a triple. We're trying to pitch accordingly to Blake, and it snowballed. I thought [Zambrano] threw the ball pretty good -- it was just bad luck. Sometimes you have to tip your cap."

On Saturday, the Cubs rallied with a five-run eighth but couldn't muster much against Hiroki Kuroda (3-2), who struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings.

"It was just too much to overcome," Quade said.

One of the problems has been inconsistent starting pitching. The Cubs have five quality starts out of 21 games.

"Normally, when you get on a roll and start playing well consistently, it has a lot to do with your starting pitching," Quade said. "Once we get that straightened out, I'll feel pretty good about this thing. We're just very inconsistent in that area right now."

The weather hasn't cooperated either. Sunday's game-time temperature of 48 degrees was the third warmest at Wrigley Field.

"It's Chicago and if you get through April to the first week of May at .500 or better, you'll be fine," pitcher Kerry Wood said.

The Cubs tried to get something going. Kosuke Fukudome doubled to lead off the Chicago first and scored one batter later on Jamey Carroll's error as he booted Starlin Castro's grounder. One out later, Pena hit an RBI single to close to 5-2. But the Dodgers added runs on RBI singles by Loney in the third and Miles in the sixth.

Sunday was Zambrano's 300th game, and 263rd career start, which moved him into ninth place on the Cubs' all-time games started list, passing Larry Corcoran (262). Big Z did get some help defensively and helped himself out in the second. Miles reached on an error by Darwin Barney that inning and Zambrano said something to the rookie second baseman. Blake then hit a comebacker that Zambrano fielded and tossed to Barney, who threw to Pena for a nifty double play.

"'Z' loves to play hard, he loves guys to play hard," Barney said. "That [error] was one of those things that happens -- I looked up, rushed it a little. He was supportive."

Zambrano told Barney to keep his head up. When he fielded Blake's ball, he didn't see anyone covering at second, but Barney was quick enough to get to the bag in time.

"I told him, 'My job is to make the play and see if I can throw to second base and your job is to get there,'" Zambrano said. "[Barney's] a good player -- he can hit, he can field. He's a good guy. He has the tools to play in the big leagues -- that's why he's there. He has good tools to be a good player."

There were other lapses. Aramis Ramirez was thrown out in the sixth when he had to retreat to second base after making big turn on Marlon Byrd's single.

"I was going to third, but that's a mistake -- I'm a veteran and I shouldn't make that kind of mistake," Ramirez said.

"He made an aggressive turn, thinking about going to third, and got a taste of their left fielder's arm [Sands], which is pretty darn good," Quade said. "It's a mistake, and we made several. We've got to play better, we really do."

The Dodgers weren't sure their lead was enough.

"They don't give up, that team fights back and you saw that [Saturday]," Miles said. "You have to stay on them. When Zambrano gets on his game, hits the corners, he can be real tough. We did get the jump on him."

And Zambrano will try to start a new streak on Friday in Arizona.

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