Michael Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski made nice before Friday's game, and were simply catchers, not fighters, as Juan Uribe drove in five runs to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Round 2 of this Interleague matchup.
The Cubs' 1-5 hitters combined for eight hits, but the team was 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. That won't get the job done.
"I don't have an answer for it," Barrett said of the lack of clutch hits. "It's frustrating. We put together some better at-bats, some quality at-bats. It's just tough to get the job done."
Jon Garland (7-3), the Cubs' first-round draft pick in 1997, notched the win, giving up two runs on seven hits over six innings to help the White Sox take a 3-1 lead in this season's crosstown series.
This was Barrett's first game back after serving a 10-game suspension for delivering a right hook to Pierzynski's jaw on May 20 at U.S. Cellular Field. The Cubs, who went 3-7 without Barrett, were finally back to a full 25-man roster. Before the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed puzzled by all the attention given to the punch.
"It's baseball," Baker said. "You guys act like it's the first fight ever in baseball. When we were playing, we fought all the time but nobody got suspended."
"It's over," he said. "It's no big deal."
Tell that to the mixed crowd of 40,720 at Wrigley Field. Barrett and Pierzynski were greeted with both boos and cheers. When Cubs rookie Sean Marshall plunked Pierzynski on the right arm with a pitch in the fifth, the White Sox fans jeered loudly.
"I didn't mean to hit him, of course," Marshall said of the curve that got away. "I'm sure he knows it was a curveball and there wasn't any intention. We're on good terms."
Marshall (4-7), making his 16th start, gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings while striking out six. Uribe hit a two-run single in the first and an RBI double in the third off Marshall, and added a two-run homer in the eighth off Roberto Novoa.
"That really hurt," Baker said of Uribe's homer. "He hung a breaking ball. That was the ballgame."
White Sox fans made themselves heard loud and clear after Uribe's homer, his ninth, with a "Let's go White Sox" chant. The Cubs closed the month of June with one win at home in 11 games, a 9-18 mark for the month, are now 21 games under .500 at 29-50, and have lost 14 of their last 17 games.
It's the second time in franchise history the Cubs have ended June with 50 losses. In 1962, the team was 29-50 at the end of June, and finished 59-103.
"It's tough to deal with at times," Barrett said.
Marshall got into trouble in the first. Pablo Ozuna singled to lead off and one out later, limped into third on Paul Konerko's single. Ozuna, who has a sore hamstring, was lifted for pinch-runner Scott Podsednik, who scored on Jermaine Dye's single. Pierzynski singled to load the bases and one out later, Uribe smacked a two-run single to make it 3-0.
The Cubs answered in their half when Juan Pierre singled, stole second and reached third on a flyout by Todd Walker. Derrek Lee walked, and Aramis Ramirez and Jacque Jones each followed with RBI singles to close to 3-2.
Pierre also doubled in the fifth and tripled with one out in the Cubs' seventh against Neal Cotts. He was thrown out at home after the triple when he tried to score on Todd Walker's grounder to Konerko at first.
Baker didn't come out to argue the call but said that was because he didn't have a clear view of the play. The dugouts offer the worst view at Wrigley Field.
"It could've gone either way," Pierre said. "I felt like I got in there. I didn't think anything of it personally that he didn't come out and argue the play. It was a bang-bang play and could've gone either way. Konerko made a good throw, A.J. put a good tag on. If we're going good, he might throw the ball to the backstop or something."
Things haven't been going too good. The Cubs are .208 (10-for-48) with runners in scoring position in the last five games.
"Definitely, the intensity was there," Baker said. "We just need to get some hits with runners in scoring position."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.