No panic for Cubs after back-to-back L's
Piniella pleased with team's effort, gives credit to Phillies
CHICAGO -- For the first time since 1989, the Cubs head into September with the National League's best record. But for the first time since late July, they are riding a two-game losing streak.
Jayson Werth drove in three runs to power the Phillies to a 5-3 win Sunday over the Cubs and replacement starter Sean Marshall to split the four-game series. The Cubs, now 85-52, remained unbeaten in their past 11 series, but their series' win streak ended at nine.
"There's no panic," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said. "Tomorrow's another series, and I hope we can play better."
These two teams could meet again in October. The Phillies remained one game behind the Mets in the National League East, while the Cubs lead the Brewers in the NL Central by 4 1/2 games.
"That's one of the best teams we've played all year," Mark DeRosa said. "That's a good team, that's a team we might see down the road."
"We're not scared to face any team," Soriano said. "We believe that we have a very good team. We believe we can do it. No matter what team we face, we just have to play better."
Asked if he was frustrated by Sunday's loss, Cubs manager Lou Piniella snapped.
"Why is it frustrating? Why should it be?" he said. "Are we supposed to win every day? I don't think so. We went out and played hard. We got beat. Give them credit."
The Cubs did finish August 20-8, and have won at least 15 games each month this year for the first time since 1969. The 20 wins in August are the most since the 1984 Cubs went 20-10.
"There's nothing wrong with the effort," Piniella said. "It's not that easy, fellas. I think we've spoiled people, and we've gotten people used to it. But every day, things don't go your way in this business. That's why you play 162 games, and that's why you play six months."
Jamie Moyer (12-7), who began his career with the Cubs in 1986 -- four years after Marshall was born -- picked up the win, giving up two runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. Marshall (3-4) found out Saturday night that he was subbing for Carlos Zambrano, skipped because of a tired arm, and was charged with five runs, nine hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings.
"I'm glad that I can jump in and fill the void like I have been doing," Marshall said. "I'm happy to do that."
He wasn't thrilled about the Phillies' first. They opened a 3-0 lead on Ryan Howard's RBI single and Werth's two-run double, both with two outs. Werth also hit his 21st homer and third of the series with two outs in the fifth.
The Cubs had runners at first and third with one out in the second when Ronny Cedeno dropped a single in center that Shane Victorino lost in the sun, scoring one run. Marshall showed bunt, but changed his mind as second baseman Chase Utley shifted toward first and slapped a single to center, driving in another run to make it 3-2.
"I guess they did the wheel play," Marshall said. "We're taught when we're bunting, if you see the infielders crash to third base, to pull it back and slash. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that, and I was lucky enough to squeak the ball through the infield. I found a hole, and that was good.
"Unfortunately, I gave up three in the top of the first to put us in the hole early. Hopefully, we can wake the bats up and drive some guys in tomorrow."
Aramis Ramirez and Soriano did deliver big home runs in the first two games of the series, but were shut down Saturday and Sunday. Ramirez was 3-for-16 in the four games; Soriano was 3-for-17.
"The last couple games, I've been struggling at home plate a little bit," Soriano said. "It's OK. I'll come back tomorrow. There's nothing you can do about today."
He wasn't alone. The Cubs stranded 10 on Sunday after leaving nine on base Saturday.
"Listen, if we can get guys in every time we got men on base, we'd be 162-0, and that's not going to happen," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.