Astros 4, Cubs 3
Late defensive errors sink Cubs
Defensive lapses cost the Cubs again in a 4-3 loss to the Astros, leaving them 1-3 despite solid first starts from Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Hill.
The Cubs had better get better quickly or they will find themselves in the same position as last year, when they had to storm from behind to catch the Brewers.
Four games don't make a season, but the Cubs are hitting only .220, including a combined .203 from Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.
"We have to start scoring more runs," manager Lou Piniella said. "You're not going to win too often scoring two or three runs in this league or any league. You have to put five or six runs on the board. I've said that many, many times. You have to pitch awfully well.
"You can't make any mistakes at all when you put two or three runs on the board."
Fielding mistakes by Mark DeRosa and Soriano wasted a Cubs comeback and, other than Kosuke Fukudome, the hitters continued to struggle.
"It seems like we did the same thing last year," DeRosa said. "We don't want to fall into that trap.
Obviously, the good hitters—Aramis and Sori, they're going to hit. [But] four games in, you don't want to find yourselves 1-3."
After Geovany Soto tied the game with a two-run single off Chris Sampson in the seventh, second baseman DeRosa booted Lance Berkman's grounder for an error to start the eighth.
"I just botched it, period," DeRosa said.
With one out, Miguel Tejada hit a shot off reliever Jon Lieber down the third-base line and past the Cubs' bullpen. The ball ricocheted off the brick wall and past a charging Soriano, going for a run-scoring triple. Ty Wigginton followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2, and the Astros were safe.
Soriano said the ball took a "quick bounce" and got past him because the new field is playing so fast with its short grass.
"I'm working every day to get more comfortable," Soriano said. "That was the first ball hit to me like that, so I'm ready for the next one. I never thought that ball was going to bounce that quickly."
Piniella said he couldn't see the carom. The newly constructed CBOE seats down the left-field line block the view from the dugout.
"I saw the ball go down the line," he said. "… Then I saw it go by the bullpen and I lost sight of the ball. So I don't know exactly what happened."
DeRosa hit a home run in the ninth, but it couldn't make up for his critical error.
"We've had two games where shaky defense has hurt us," Piniella said.
"Outside of that, look, it's cold out there. I'm not making excuses, but we'll get better. That's all I can say."