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Dolis’ wildness dooms Cubs as team’s losing streak hits 11

By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –

PITTSBURGH — The Chicago Cubs keep finding new and inventive ways to prolong their prolific losing streak, as the ending of Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Pirates showed.

In this case, rookie closer Rafael Dolis loaded the bases with a single and two walks before hitting Matt Hague with a pitch to force home the winning run and extend the skid to 11 games.

“You’re not going to come out on top when you walk that many guys,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You can’t throw strikes to finish a game off. So, we’re having trouble with Dolis right now, throwing back-to-back strikes.”

While the Cubs managed to break their 20-inning scoring drought and came up with a hit with runners in scoring position for the first time since Monday, it was to no avail. Paul Maholm fizzled in his return to PNC Park, walking five in five innings and getting thrown out at the plate by third baseman Pedro Alvarez to end the third.

“Kind of weird,” Maholm said of his day.

Maholm said he had “no clue” Alvarez’s throw was coming home, and he didn’t seem to be in any hurry on the play. The Cubs later had a chance to snatch the lead in the seventh, but Blake Lalli was thrown out at home by 10 feet after third base coach Pat Listach sent him home from first on Adrian Cardenas’ double.

Sveum said Listach was “caught up in the moment” and tried to “push the envelope” because of the Cubs’ inability to score runs.

Alfonso Soriano did end the Cubs’ scoreless innings drought with a home run in the fourth, and Starlin Castro ended their 0-for-26 drought with runners in scoring position with an RBI triple in the fifth. It was the first time the Cubs had scored in back-to-back innings in eight games.

But the Cubs’ longest losing streak since the 0-14 start in 1997 rolled along.

“That’s hard to do, really, especially when you’re getting pretty good starting pitching, for the most part,” Sveum said. “You’re losing one-run ballgames and you’re getting shut out three, four, five times in a 10-game span — that’s almost fluky type numbers.”

Actually, the Cubs have been shut out only twice in the streak, but no matter.

The Cubs also lost 13 straight from June 12-25, 1985, after starting out 35-19 and taking a four-game lead in the NL East. By the time that skid ended, the Cubs were 41/2 games out of first place and they finished with a 32-65 record in their final 97 games to end up 231/2 back.

Like most losing streaks, everything that could go wrong did in the 13-gamer.

“I lost a ball in the sun that hit me, and we ended up getting beat. It was freakish type stuff,” former outfielder and current broadcaster Keith Moreland said.

“It’s almost like each day we’d come to the ballpark, and you try everything you think of to change. The way you put your uniform on, what time you get to the park. … If you’re not trying to change, and change the outcome, then I don’t think you’re doing your job.”

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