If games like last week's 18-1 loss to Milwaukee and Sunday's 11-4 loss to Cincinnati are the kinds of potholes the Cubs will have to live with during this transition/audition process down the stretch this year, then so will sloppy wins like Tuesday night's in San Francisco.
The way the Cubs jumped on one of the best pitchers in baseball, Tim Lincecum, for four quick runs in the first inning and a two-run, knockout punch in the fourth, this one should have been easier to close out than the 8-6, tying-run-on-base ending suggested.
``Wow, we make it hard on ourselves,'' acting manager Alan Trammell said after the Cubs survived for their second win in 13 games, first in five games with Trammell at the helm for Lou Piniella. ``I think we can say we've watched enough of our games this year [to see] we make it too difficult, not making plays and putting ourselves in a bind.
``But we won, so certainly you're going to enjoy that. But it's just the fact that we give other teams too many opportunities, and we know at this level that usually comes back to haunt you.''
The Cubs committed three errors, should have been charged with a fourth (on Tyler Colvin's muff of a two-out fly in the seventh that allowed two runs) and added a few other sloppy plays in the game - turning a should-have-been-blowout into a nail biter.
Consider it the continued growing pains of a team with nine rookies on its roster, including a shortstop who made one of the errors on a seventh-inning throw, and a just-arrived-from-Iowa Micah Hoffpauir, who committed a second-inning fielding error.
``I can't blame these [pitchers] for maybe getting a little frustrated. We make too many errors,'' Trammell said. ``We make too many mistakes. We talk about things, but in the heat of the battle we don't make plays.''
Tuesday's starter Ryan Dempster (10-8), who reached 10 wins for the fifth time in his career, was more charitable in his postgame comments, crediting his lineup with having a big offensive day against Lincecum (including a fourth-inning hit by Dempster himself that led to one of the runs).
``That's the game, man. Sometimes things like [mistakes] happen,'' Dempster said. ``Everybody's out there giving everything they've got. We played with a lot of enthusiasm last night and tonight, and it showed.''
Closer Carlos Marmol, who hadn't pitched since Saturday, took over a four-run game in the ninth and quickly gave up four hits and two runs to the first five batters he faced - before getting mad and striking out Juan Uribe on three pitches and then getting Travis Ishikawa to ground out to end it.
``The reality is we don't have a lot of games left, and the games we are playing still mean something in the standings,'' Dempster said of the Cubs' final 49-game mindset, ``and they mean something to your pride. You go out there and play as hard as you can, and there's a lot of teams we're playing right now in the thick of playoff races.
``We owe it to ourselves to give our best effort everyday. You show up for work and do your job no matter what the situation is. And I think guys are going to continue to do that, and you'll see us have a lot of fun in what's been a really tough year.''