From the Cubicle

Greetings, Cubs fans. After another tough loss last night, this team is teetering on that fine line between mediocre and forget about it.

Last night it was rookie Roberto Novoa's turn to come out of the bullpen and fail to get the job done. Corey Patterson lost his cool the other night and Kerry Wood's back on the shelf. It's been a tough week for the Cubs with four straight losses.

But this ought to make you feel better: Former Tribune employees Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis, Matt Clement and Jon Lieber are a combined 17-1. Cubs starters are 8-7.

Just asking, but what do you think Matt Karchner's doing right now? Perhaps the Cubs could add Leon to the rotation.

Today it's Greg Maddux against Gary Glover in the final game of this three-game set in Millertown.

We'll have baseball soon. In the meantime, peruse today's lineup at your own peril. Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.

First inning

Len Kasper reports the roof is open at Miller Park. As usual there appears to be quite a bit of unemployed Cubs fans who made the short trip up north to support the team. Jerry Hairston leads off and takes a ball from Glover and eventually draws a walk. Yes, a reader named Seattle points out if you add Jamie Moyer to the ex-Cubs-pitchers-off-to-a-hot-start equation, it's 21-1. Hairston gets picked off first and Patterson strikes out on a high fastball, his Achilles' heel. Aramis Ramirez strikes out looking to end the Cubs' half of the first. And, no, Patterson didn't miss a hit and run. Hairston was just flat picked off.

For those of you chirping about the stories broken up into multiple pages, you'll be happy to know that we'll be working on one page today. Brady Clark bounces one to Ronny Cedeno at short and Cedeno committs his first big-league error with a throw in the dirt. Clark takes second. Hello to you Linda S.--and Linda S.'s boss and Linda S.'s archenemy, for that matter. I'm sure they'll be joining us shortly on the message board. Maddux walks Bill Hall. Hall checked his swing but an appeal to the first-base ump comes up short. Maddux walks Geoff Jenkins, as well. Bob Brenly just blamed Maddux's poor start on the fact that he's not used to the mound yet after warming up in the bullpen. Give me a break. This guy has 300-something wins. I think the mound is non-issue. Maddux strikes out Carlos Lee looking at a signature Maddux backdoor cutter. Lyle Overbay lines one right at Patterson in center, scoring Clark. Unearned run. Here's Junior Spivey, who is batting over .600 for his career against Maddux. Maddux settles and fans his nemesis Spivey to get out of it.

Brewers 1, Cubs nil

Second inning

This game's on WGN, which means will miss the first pitch of every at-bat. WGN returned to just catch Derrek Lee fouling one off. Lee grounds out, which is no good since I have him in the Beat the Streak game today. Glover buzzes one under Jeromy Burnitz's chin. Burntiz picks himself up, dusts himself off and grounds out to Overbay. Barrett fans on four pitches, which raises his pitches-per-plate-appearance average. Coming in it was 2.69, the lowest in the NL.

Russell Branyan grounds to Hairston who flips to Lee for out No. 1. Chad Moeller then dumps a single into right. Glover lays down a sacrifice bunt and gets the job done. Moeller takes second. Clark rips the first pitch into the left-field corner for an RBI double. As the replay aired, Brenly's analysis went like this: "Sounded like he hit that off his hands...actually got it off the end of the bat." Hall strikes out but the Brewcrew adds another run.

Brewers 2, Cubs 0

Third inning

Todd Hollandsworth bounces out to Hall. Cedeno follows his first career error with his first career homer. Got out of there in a hurry and scraped the back of the left-field wall. Maddux grounds one up the middle that gets under the glove of Hall. Oh, man. I nearly did a spit take when I saw someone posted on the message board as Joey the Clown. I promise we won't run any pictures of you. But you should really turn yourself in. Hairston pops out. And Patterson pops out, as well, stranding Maddux.

Brewers 2, Cubs 1

Jenkins rips a single to center. Maddux throws one near Carlos Lee's head and it tips off Barrett's glove and rolls to the backstop. Jenkins takes second and you've got to think Barrett needs to catch that. Lee bounces out to Cedeno, who makes a solid throw this time. Overbay hits his second sac fly in as many at-bats, this time scoring Jenkins. Maddux walks Spivey. That's three already. Branyan bats with two outs and a runner on first. Spivey takes off, the Cubs pitch out and Barrett's throw nearly sails into center field. Branyan goes down looking at what he thought was a ball. Tough.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1

Fourth inning

Ramirez fans to start the fourth. Lee walks. Burnitz squibs one up the middle for a hit. So two on and one out for Barrett. Barrett sends it deep but Lee has room on the warning track. Just a long out. I thought that was gone. Of course, Lee (Derrek) didn't tag even when Lee (Carlos) threw behind him. The scorer has reversed that call in the first, so the first run off Maddux is now earned. Hollandsworth's broken bat bloop is caught by Hall in shallow center.

Moeller bounces the first pitch back to Maddux. One pitch, one out. Glover strikes out. Clark pops out to Hollandsworth in left to end Maddux's first perfect inning of the day.

Fifth inning

Cedeno pops out to Overbay, who's got a giant bandaid on his chin. Maddux strikes out very quickly. Hairston bounces one off Branyan's glove at third. Hometown scorer rules it a hit. Please. Haven't seen defense that bad since Kirk Hinrich tried to guard Gilbert Arenas last night. Hairston steals second with a head-first slide. And Patterson again chases a fast ball near his eyes for strike three. This is 2005, Corey. Time to get rid of that.

WGN comes back from commercial with a 1-0 count on Hall. Kasper, of course, chimes in, "Maddux working quickly..." Well, you should still come back in time for the first pitch. Hall grounds out. That wasn't a cheap shot on Hinrich. Why wouldn't Skiles put someone on Arenas who could guard him? Everyone in the place knew Arenas was going to get the ball and shoot it. Jenkins rips a single to center. Carlos Lee sends one deep that backs Burnitz all the way up to the wall. But again, just a long out. Jenkins doesn't advance. Overbay dumps a single the other way to left to extend his hit streak to 12 games. Guy's got a sweet swing. Maddux gets his nemesis, Spivey, to end the inning. I would've double-teamed Arenas. He was not going to pass the ball. But that's Thursday afternoon point-guarding on my part. It certainly was a great game, despite the end. Now everyone in Chicago knows how fans in Cleveland, Portland, Phoenix, Seattle and Utah feel.

Sixth inning

Ramirez rips a ground-rule double over the head of Clark in center. PJ on the message board, Kent Mercker just called from Cincy. He wants me banned from the Tribune cafeteria. Here's Lee, who needs a hit for my Beat the Streak game. He hits it right at Hall at short. You want someone to end a hit streak? Just have me pick them in this game. I had Ichiro last week and he went 0-for-5. I bet he's done that under 10 times in his career. Burnitz pops out in foul territory. After all that dilly-dally, Barrett says "Screw this" and hits a two-run homer to tie it. Hollandsworth then spits the right-center gap with a double. That brings Mike Maddux out to have a word with Glover. Cedeno bounces out to short to end the inning, but the Cubs climb right back in this one.

Cubs 3, Brewers 3

Branyan flies out. OK, everyone, let's leave the mighty Jonathan Quinn out of this. Moeller lofts one to Hollandsworth. Wes Helms bats for Glover as the sausages get ready for their races beyond the outfield wall. One of my goals in life is to don one of those suits and win that race. You've got to aim high. Helms jacks one very far to center. That brings out the fireworks and Bernie the Brewer. The Cubs tie it and then give it right back. Clark rips his third hit of the day down the left-field line and if I'm Scott Skiles I'm getting someone up in the pen, preferably not Eric Piatkowski. It's Mike Remlinger who's stirring, probably getting ready to come on to face a lefty who's hitting .765 for his career off of him. Hall grounds out to Ramirez.

Brewers 4, Cubs 3

Seventh inning

Adam Caldarelli's clone, I was never a big "Saved by the Bell" fan. But if you want to talk "Hang Time," Dick Butkus' greatest work outside of "Hamburger, the Movie," I just picked up the first two seasons on DVD. I believe the Polish won the sausage race. Julio Santana comes on to pitch and J.J. Hardy takes over at short. Santana pitches to Neifi Perez, who bats for Maddux. Neifi dribbles one down the first-base line to Overbay, who steps on the bag himself. Pardon me, that Butkus movie is "Hamburger...The Motion Picture," not to be confused with the 80s sex ski comedy "Hot Dog... The Movie." Hairston drives one to center but Clark runs it down. Patterson walks. Yes, hard to believe. Ramirez pops out to end the inning.

Fair enough, HJ in OR, I guess Butkus was winning with the players Theuss recruited, kind of like Bruce Weber. By the way, google Bruce Weber and check out the first return. Hey-O. I guess that explains why the coach doesn't have his own site. He'd have to pay that guy for the URL. And, Chad, I'm not blaming Hinrich at all. He's a good defender. But I disagree that he was right in Arenas' face. Look at this picture. Tyson Chandler was closer to making a play.

OK, Perez comes in to play short, Remlinger in to pitch and he gets Jenkins to ground out. Remlinger gets Lee, as well. Overbay grounds one towards first where Lee (Derrek) makes a diving stop and then flips to Remlinger covering. Very quick inning.

Eighth inning

HJ, I think that was the same gym they used in "Teen Wolf." Matt Wise is the Brewers' new pitcher and he either walks or gets hit with ball four. Either way, I'm out of luck in the Beat the Streak. I'm like the Cooler. Lee steals second. Meanwhile, this game is about to be lapped by the Sox-Royals game, which started an hour later but is already in the seventh. Burnitz walks and here comes Ned Yost to change pitchers and bring in Ricky Bottalico. Two on with no outs for Barrett, who likely will bunt. He does and Overbay is all over it and nails Lee at third. Barrett bunts it towards first. Come on. You've got to make the third baseman field the ball. Hollandsworth strikes out looking, gets in the ump's face and is run. Low pitch but the replay showed it was right at his knees. Ben Grieve bats in what has become a disastrous inning for the Cubs after such a promising start. OK, that was premature pessimism. Grieve rips a double down the line, scoring Burnitz to tie it. Perez flies out.

Cubs 4, Brewers 4

Jose Macias takes over in left for Hollandsworth and Michael Wuertz comes on to pitch. Here's Spivey. And there goes Spivey, a victim of a strikeout. Wuertz fans Branyan, to boot. After all that, Chad Moeller rips a homer to left to take the lead. Wuertz got whoever's in the ninth spot in the Brewers' lineup. I was laughing at some of the posts on the message board, particularly the one about Lou Dobbs devaluing the Tribune stock because of this play-by-play.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

Ninth inning

Lights-out Derrick Turnbow enters to face Hairston and starts with some serious heat. He blows away Hairston. And while we're on this subject, can we all get together and come up with one common spelling for the name Derrick? I mean, we've got Derrick Turnbow, Derrek Lee and Derek Jeter. It really shouldn't be that complicated. Patterson, quickly down 0-2, is about to strike out. And he does. This guy is all business. OK, everyone calm down. Off the ledge. Ramirez just tied it with a serious bomb to center. Which brings up Derrek Lee and he dumps a double to left! His hit streak and my silly fantasy game streak live. Things are looking up. Burnitz grounds out and my work continues.

Cubs 5, Brewers 5

LaTroy Hawkins meet Brady Clark. Clark hits it on the ground, but Hawkins sticks his foot out and kicks it right where no one is playing. Infield single. I'm sure Hairston is happy about that. The ball was heading right to him. Jeff Cirillo pinch hits and he tries to lay one down. Cirillo lays it down, Hawkins fields it, bobbles it but gets Cirillo at first. Hawkins strikes out Jenkins. And here comes El Caballo. He's due to kill the Cubs. Hawkins gets two strikes on Lee before Lee dumps one to shallow right. Hairston goes back and misses it. Clark scores. Tough loss. Worse than last night and you can't blame Hawkins for that one. Hairston should've caught that.

Final: Brewers 6, Cubs 5

Postscript: Dusty Baker last night said "We're losing all kinds of ways." Well, we just witnessed one we hadn't thought of.

Thanks everyone for reading and posting on the message board. Despite the outcome, there was some funny stuff said. I wish I had something to say to lift everyone's spirits. Well, there's always tequila. And the weather's picking up. Outside of that, I've got nothing.