Cubs' offense still headed wrong way

Tribune staff reporter

Cubs' manager Lou Piniella and coach Matt Sinatro got lost driving from Chicago to Cincinnati Friday.

They might wish they had kept going because right now their entire team looks lost, and while the meandering tour of Ohio might have been good for some pre-game chuckles, Piniella found no humor about what happened later.

Their sixth loss in a row was a 10-2 embarrassment to the Reds and, with two pitchers already missing turns with sore arms, Ted Lilly's two-inning start certainly didn't help calm concerns.

Neither did a slumbering lineup, which managed only six hits off Bronson Arroyo and three relievers. In the past two games, the Cubs have 12 hits. Of those, 11 are singles, seven of the infield variety.

"I don't know where the offense has gone, I really don't," Piniella said afterward, in a statement apropos of the entire scene Friday.

"Look, these guys are trying so I have no complaints from that standpoint," he said. "But the truth of the matter is you have to get it done.

"It has been a struggle over the last half-dozen games to put runs on the board and when the pitching is not good, it gets ugly like [Friday]."

It was an ugly day all around for Piniella and Sinatro as they took the scenic route to Cincinnati.

"We actually Googled the trip and we were Googled to East Liverpool, Pa., evidently. Who in the heck knows?" Piniella said. "On the [printout] sheet we had Cincinnati-Liverpool. And I'm thinking to myself, I was in Cincinnati for three years and I don't remember a Liverpool around the area."

That might be because East Liverpool, Ohio, is on the western border of Pennsylvania, so the printout took Piniella and Sinatro east instead of south.

With Sinatro driving, Piniella took a short nap.

"When I woke up we were about 80-90 miles from Cleveland. I said no, I don't think so. So we backtracked and came down through Columbus and got here at 5 o'clock. We left Chicago at 8 in the morning so we should have been here at 2 [p.m.]

"I probably shouldn't have taken the nap."

Actually, he probably wished he could have kept sleeping, given Friday's performance by his team. It was like awakening from a nightmare.

Lilly lasted only two innings, his shortest outing since last Sept. 30 when he threw two scoreless shutout innings as a tuneup for the playoff and his most runs allowed since April 17. He is 0-4 with a 9.68 ERA against the Reds this season.

And he put his team in an early 5-0 hole with three walks, a hit batter and four hits, including Joey Votto's 18th home run, eight of which have come against the Cubs.

That's the most against the Cubs for a single opponent since Cardinals Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols each slugged eight in 2004.

"It was probably my most disappointing start of year given I had a little more motivation to go out and win this one given the circumstances of the last five days," Lilly said.

Reliever Jon Lieber wasn't much better than Lilly, allowing Jay Bruce's grand slam in the fourth inning.

By the end of the sixth inning, Piniella had removed regulars Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa and Geovany Soto, whose replacement Koyie Hill doubled home a run in the seventh.

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