Lineup changes may come after loss
Offense slumbers, Dempster fights control against rivals
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella may be making some changes.
After the Cubs lost, 4-1, Wednesday to their intracity Interleague rivals, the Chicago White Sox, Piniella said he may alter the lineup in an attempt to get the offense going.
The Cubs are batting .244 as a team, and have scored two runs or fewer in 14 of their last 25 games. They've won just two of those 14 games. What's made the matter so befuddling is that the Cubs' lineup is stocked with proven hitters.
"It does make it more perplexing," Piniella said. "But sooner or later, you have to start hitting. If not, you have to give somebody else a chance. That's all."
Alexei Ramirez hit a solo homer to back John Danks and lift the White Sox to victory in the first game of this rain-interrupted series. Danks (5-5) struck out nine and gave up five hits over seven-plus innings. The Cubs avoided being shut out in the eighth when Aaron Miles doubled and scored one out later on Alfonso Soriano's groundout.
Soriano is 0-for-12 in his last three games and 1-for-16 on the homestand. His average has dipped to .225, and he has an an on-base percentage of .291. What if Piniella dropped him from the No. 1 spot?
"If he thinks he makes the team better like that, I'm open," Soriano said. "He has to try to make the team better. If he thinks moving me out of the leadoff spot makes the team better, I'm fine."
Piniella wouldn't name names. Thursday's lineup could be interesting.
"I feel for Lou," Milton Bradley said. "He's doing all he can do. All he can do is write the lineup out. You've got the personnel and guys in here to get the job done, and we're just not doing it. He shouldn't have to go through everything he's going through."
Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games, and left all manueverings to Piniella.
"That's his decision," Lee said. "I'm glad he's the manager and he has to make them. We obviously haven't played the way we thought we would, but what can you do? We have to keep going out there and believe in ourselves and try to turn it around."
Lee has been positive through the team's skid.
"I'm not going to say we're not going to come out of it," he said. "We're not trying to make you believe. We're going to keep going out there and playing as hard as we can. That's all we can do. We have a game tomorrow. We have to stay positive and be ready for tomorrow."
Ryan Dempster (4-4) did not have a positive outing as he walked a season-high six and gave up four hits over six-plus innings to take the loss. Of his 104 pitches, 51 were strikes.
"What a grind," Dempster said. "I could've done a lot better job than I did today."
It was his ninth quality start, and fourth in a row, but it wasn't enough. Ramirez connected with one out in the first and Chris Getz added an RBI triple in the White Sox second.
Both Getz and Gordon Beckham drew walks to begin the seventh, and Dempster was lifted. Danks slapped the ball to Angel Guzman, who got an awkward force at second. Scott Podsednik then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, which Lee fielded but had to hold because nobody was covering first.
"That was a good play," Lee said of Podsednik's bunt. "There was no defensing that. He bunted it in the right spot."
It was the White Sox first win at Wrigley Field since May 20, 2007, a 10-6 win. Last year, each team defended its home turf and swept the respective home portions of the series. Can the Cubs pick up the offense Thursday?
"We have a lot of good hitters, but that's the problem -- I don't know what's going on," Soriano said. "I don't know if there's a lot of pressure in this clubhouse or what. What I see is not fun."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.