Cubs fall to Sox, drop fourth straight
Skipper Piniella ejected for arguing call in second inning
CHICAGO -- What did the Cubs learn from the six-game crosstown series with the White Sox?
For starters, there's no place like home. Carlos Quentin, Brian Anderson and Jim Thome each homered to power the White Sox to a 5-1 intracity Interleague victory Sunday night over the Cubs, and complete the home-field sweep.
The Cubs took all three games played at Wrigley Field, so both sides of town -- and both sets of fans -- can boast bragging rights.
"We play better over there [at Wrigley]," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said, "and they play better over here."
Second, the Cubs aren't that deep. Losing Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Reed Johnson and Scott Eyre has hurt, and the team heads West for a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants riding a season-high four-game losing streak. Their lead in the National League Central is now 2 1/2 games.
"There's no reason to panic," Mark DeRosa said. "We just have to go out and play better."
They tried Eric Patterson in left, and that didn't work. DeRosa, the starting second baseman, is now the starting left fielder, at least until Johnson is activated Thursday.
Sean Marshall (0-2), subbing for Zambrano, did keep the Cubs in the game. He served up the home runs to Quentin and Anderson, which was a two-run shot, and went seven innings, striking out five.
"We're going through a little trying period right now," Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell said. "We know we're nicked up, but no excuses, and we need to go out and perform, and hopefully we'll do that [Monday]."
Third, Trammell is a good post-game quote. He subbed for manager Lou Piniella, who decided to skip the interview room after his early exit in the second.
Joe Crede was credited with checking his swing in time in the second inning when it appeared he'd gone around, and had struck out, prompting an argument by Piniella, which led to the Cubs manager's first ejection of the season.
"It was close," Cubs catcher Henry Blanco said. "I thought [Crede] went. They should've let Lou argue. There's no reason for Lou to get thrown out of the game just like that.
"The bad thing is you cannot say anything. I think they have their opinion, we have ours, and that's how it goes."
What was odd was that Piniella targeted his comments at first-base umpire Chad Fairchild, and home-plate ump Rob Drake is the one who tossed him. Drake did so when Piniella had his back to the umpire. It was career ejection No. 60.
"Lou wasn't talking to the home-plate umpire when he got thrown out of the game," Blanco said. "I don't know what they have in their mind, I don't know if they want to argue, they don't want to argue. I don't think there was any reason for him to get thrown out of the game."
Trammell said you can't argue a checked swing.
"You might be able to ask a question," Trammell said. "I think Lou was frustrated. We disagree, and we'll see a replay and we're wrong. I'm not saying that's the case this time, but that's what happens in the heat of the battle."
Trammell also argued a call in the Cubs fifth, when Ronny Cedeno was called out at first to complete a double play. Cedeno appeared to beat the throw.
"I was safe," Cedeno said. "[The umpire] made the wrong call."
"Two things -- I thought he beat the play, and I also thought [first baseman Nick Swisher] did not have control of the ball," Trammell said. "Chad said he was taking the ball out of his glove, which I disagreed with."
Where was Piniella postgame?
"He'll meet up with you tomorrow," Trammell said. "It's one of those days. I basically was in charge for most of the game. We're frustrated, but I say that any time you go through a little losing streak, if you're the Cubs or whomever and in last place. We want to win. I have all the confidence in the world we'll get back to our winning ways. I say that and it doesn't mean you snap your fingers and it's going to happen."
The Cubs did tally in the seventh against Mark Buehrle (6-6). DeRosa was safe at second after his ball scooted through Crede's legs for an error, and he scored two batters later on Cedeno's single. That was it.
It was a tale of two sides of the city.
"Just a week ago, we seemed to come up with big hits, and they did it this week," Trammell said. "They're a fine team. We're somewhat evenly matched. We're 3-3 this year, but they got the better end of us these last three."
The Cubs completed the Interleague portion of the schedule at 6-9, and both sides of town can claim victory from this year's crosstown series. A year ago, Piniella was ejected June 2, and the team seemed inspired, and rallied from a 7 1/2-game deficit to win the division. Their 112-79 record since June 3, 2007, is second only to the New York Yankees.
Piniella was definitely happy this part of the schedule was over with.
"Chicago is a great sports town, and whether it's the South Side or the North Side, parts of the city will be happy," Piniella said before the game. "Obviously, we want to win, the White Sox want to win. People come out, they get excited, they talk about it all week. But six games is enough."
They'll be far away from the South Side, starting Monday.
"We have to start winning again," Blanco said. "We have to get out of Chicago, and start winning again tomorrow."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.