Cubs' offense gives Garza little help

Cubs' offense gives Garza little help

Cubs' offense gives Garza little help
SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Frank Chance didn't have to worry too much about his offense in 1912. The Cubs averaged five runs per game en route to winning 91 that season.

Dale Sveum may have to check the history books to figure out how Chance did it.

The Cubs lost their ninth straight game on the road Saturday, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Giants.

This is their longest skid away from Wrigley Field since a nine-game losing streak Aug. 25-Sept. 10, 2006. The offense continued to sputter as the Cubs now have scored a run in nine of their last 72 innings on the road and scored more than one run in only three of those innings.

"Once again, we couldn't muster anything against the starting pitcher again," Sveum said. "It's the same old thing. It's unbelievable how we have a tough time scoring against starting pitchers."

The Cubs manager tried a new combination, inserting David DeJesus into the No. 3 spot. It worked with two outs in the fourth as he connected on his second homer of the season, off Matt Cain (6-2).

"I tried to throw a two-seamer and I kind of cut it more to the middle of the plate than I would have liked to," said Cain, who gave up five hits and struck out seven over eight-plus innings. "He put a great swing on it."

"He crushed that ball," Sveum said. "That was nice."

But that was it.

Matt Garza (2-4) took the loss, his third in a row. After his last game, a 10-4 loss to the Pirates on May 27, Sveum said the right-hander got beat by his "fourth-best pitch" and wasn't using his fastball enough in certain situations. They talked about it.

"He knows," Sveum said Saturday. "It was one of those times in your life and games that you wish you had back."

Garza was in control through five innings, holding the Giants to two hits and striking out five. Then the sixth arrived.

"He was great," Sveum said. "He had his good stuff, fastball, location, everything today, great slider. It was too bad. Once again, we wasted a great outing by one of our starters."

It was one pitch that changed things in the sixth. The Giants trailed, 1-0, when Ryan Theriot singled to open the inning and Melky Cabrera blooped a single to shallow left. One out later, Angel Pagan reached on a slow rolling infield hit to load the bases. Aubrey Huff then walked, although Garza clearly wasn't happy with the call. Theriot scored, and pitching coach Chris Bosio visited with Garza.

"He made a great pitch and didn't get the call," Sveum said. "Obviously, it changed the whole game around. The guy makes a great pitch in a big situation and doesn't get the call. Sometimes you don't understand it, but that's the way it goes. Garza did everything he could today and made the pitch when he had to and didn't get the call."

"It is what it is," Garza said of the call by home-plate umpire Chris Conroy. "It's not my call. As soon as I released the ball, I tried to throw a strike, and I guess I missed a little bit and walked a guy. I'll just get ready for Milwaukee in five days. I'll keep attacking and going with it."

Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger said Conroy was consistent.

"[The pitch] was in a little bit; it was definitely in," Clevenger said. "It's baseball -- that's the way the game works. The ball was definitely in."

After Huff walked and Garza calmed down, Joaquin Arias then hit a potential double-play ball to shortstop Starlin Castro, but it wasn't turned. Arias' speed was a factor. The go-ahead run scored on the play.

"There's a chance [to turn a double play]," Sveum said. "When you're positioned in spots, they had speed running down the line. We did everything we could to turn the double play, and it just didn't happen."

"I thought this would be a close game, with the time of day we're playing and the two pitchers who were throwing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had to do the little things, and we did it, just enough to win the game."

Saturday's dark blue replica Cubs outfits were from 1912, when they finished third. They're now 5-1 when wearing throwback uniforms.

They're also frustrated by the sputtering offense. Chicago is 15th in runs scored on the road with 86, just ahead of the Pirates, who have totaled 82.

Garza has other factors to keep him occupied besides the Brewers in his next start. The Cubs are constantly re-evaluating the roster. Who knows who will be around after the July 31 Trade Deadline?

"I've said before, five days is the farthest I look," Garza said. "I can't control anything I don't know will happen or what might happen. My job is to get ready for every five days and give my team the best chance to win. That's all I can do."

Frank Chance probably would've said the same.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.