Losing four out of five to start the season may appear ominous, but it's not likely a portent of the Cubs' final record.
Until the slumbering bats awaken, however, uninspiring teams such as the Reds and Pirates will have their way with the Cubs.
With right-hander Josh Fogg pitching masterfully in his first major-league start, Pittsburgh made the Cubs look increasingly futile Saturday in a 6-1 victory before 34,956 chilly and bewildered Wrigley Field fans.
Fogg, a former White Sox prospect, pitched seven innings of shutout ball as the Pirates improved to 4-1 for the first time since 1996.
"It couldn't have worked out any better than that," Fogg said after joining teammate Dave Williams and the Reds' Jose Acevedo in shutting down the Cubs over the last three days.
The Cubs stranded seven runners and managed a meaningless unearned run in the bottom of the ninth.
They have scored just three runs in the last 27 innings.
"It's not comical, but I have seen it happenguys struggle early in the season," Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "Guys come here early and they work. It's just not happening right now."
Baylor said he may do some "tweaking" of the lineup Sunday "to maybe give the guys a head break for a day."
Fogg, who made 11 relief appearances for the White Sox last September, limited the Cubs to five hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two.
"We had a scouting report on him, but having a scouting report and facing the guy are two different things," said Cubs catcher Joe Girardi, who was 0-for-4 with a double-play grounder. "And he threw some cutters in on lefties. He mixed up his pitches."
Corey Patterson, who had faced Fogg two years ago in the Southern League, managed a first-inning double.
"I kind of know what he can do with the ball," Patterson said.
And shortstop Alex Gonzalez continued his hot start at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a double. He is hitting .556.
But with the exception of Patterson, "our guys had never really seen him before," Baylor said. "He changed speeds very well and kept our guys off balance. The advantage went to him as far as throwing guys a lot of pitches they did not expect."
Matt Clement, acquired from Florida on March 27 in the Julian Tavarez-Antonio Alfonseca trade, took the loss in his Cubs debut.
Clement pretty much matched Fogg through the first five innings but was knocked around in the Pirates' four-run sixth.
Clement gave up five runs on nine hits in 51/3 innings, striking out six and walking two.
"I thought he threw some real good sinkers," Baylor said. "His downfall was the one inning when he started getting the ball up. He still kept us in the ballgame."
Of course, given the way the Cubs have been hitting, Clement would have had to throw a shutout to win.
"I don't think guys are pressing; I just think we haven't got the big hit," Girardi said. "A lot of times if you get one, then you'll get a bunch of them. It will turn."
Pirates pitchers have limited the Cubs to two runs in the first two games of the series and kept Sammy Sosa in the park for the first time in three days.
"I am very surprised and impressed," Sosa said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun