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Cubs rocked by Rockies in equaling franchise mark for most road losses at 56

By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –

DENVER — Baseball is a numbers game, and for the 2012 Cubs, the outrageous numbers just kept piling up after a 7-5 loss to the Rockies on Thursday at Coors Field.

The woeful Rockies swept the Cubs, leaving them with 97 losses, their most since 2000. They’re now 0-16 on the road against National League West teams, and they tied the 1956 franchise record with 56 road losses.

The Cubs need to finish 4-2 to avoid becoming the third 100-loss team in club history, and they will tie the club mark of 103 losses if they fail to win one more game.

Chris Volstad was rocked in a three-inning start, allowing seven runs on 10 hits, including at least one to every hitter in the Rockies’ starting lineup.

Before the game, manager Dale Sveum said Volstad had “pitched with conviction” recently and could end a season marred by a 24-start winless streak on a strong note.

“You want to erase it, but on the other hand, since then he has pitched pretty well,” Sveum said. “With two starts left, if he pitches extremely well the next two starts, sometimes you’ve built on that so much you almost don’t want to stop.”

That may be pushing things. Everyone seems ready for this season to end, and they’re playing like it.

Volstad (3-11) quickly put the Cubs in a 3-0 hole, giving up a three-run homer to the third hitter, Jordan Pacheco. Eight of the first nine batters reached off Volstad, who later served up a two-run homer to former Cub DJ LeMahieu.

“I don’t know what was going on today,” Sveum said. “You dominated a team last time you faced them pitching down and away.”

Sveum was upset Volstad had diverged from the game plan.

Volstad pointed to the infield singles.

“Home runs got me today, kind of set up by bad luck maybe,” he said.

After trailing by five runs in the third, the Cubs managed to close within 7-5 on Alfonso Soriano’s RBI double in the ninth. They had the tying runs on second and third with no outs but failed to score.

“We were one hit away from tying that game,” Sveum said.

Attention deficit syndrome: After so many baserunning blunders this year, including Dave Sappelt and Joe Mather getting thrown out at third on would-be sacrifice flies the last two weeks, Sveum was asked if modern players lacked the same attention span as previous generations.

“I don’t know about that,” he said with a laugh. “For some reason you do see a lot more mistakes like that. Whatever the reason is, there’s definitely a lot more baserunning mistakes from common-sense things that I don’t remember seeing.

“I’ve never seen that in my 30 years in the game, and it has happened twice in two weeks in non-relevant situations. There is something to be said about that. Slowing the game down just isn’t as easy (for players) anymore. I don’t know why.”

Extra innings: Darwin Barney tied the major league single-season record with his 141st consecutive errorless game at second. … Double-A Tennessee infielder Logan Watkins and pitcher Nick Struck have been named the Cubs’ minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Watkins, 23, hit .281 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games, leading the Southern League with 93 runs scored. Struck, 22, was 14-10 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 games, leading the league in victories and ranking fourth in ERA.

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