Their weekend series against the San Francisco Giants was the latest reminder of how far the Cubs have to go in rebuilding.
And it gets no better this week against the National League's best team, the Washington Nationals.
``We haven't been very good on the road,'' manager Dale Sveum said of a 17-48 record, the second worst in baseball. ``We're playing two really good teams [the Nationals and then Pittsburgh Pirates] and then Houston [the only team worse than the Cubs.]
``We'll see the best lineup in baseball the next four days [in Washington]. Even though we won't face [Stephen] Strasburg [who pitched Sunday], they still have some great arms and a great lineup.''
The Nationals already have won 81 games. The Cubs lost their 82nd on Sunday in a 7-5 game decided in the ninth.
Carlos Marmol (2-3), who had been perfect in his last 16 straight save opportunities, this time entered in a 5-5 tie. A lead off walk to Xavier Nady, stolen base and then a one-out walk to Brandon Crawford set up trouble. Singles by Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro drove in the deciding runs.
``Just a bad day,'' said Marmol, who allowed only one earned run in August. ``You won't be perfect all the time.''
The ending gave the National League West-leading Giants the rubber game of the series, but for the Cubs, there have to be other measuring sticks.
``We came up short in two games, but for the most part guys had more good at bats against the best pitching in baseball,'' Sveum said. ``It's good for our young guys to look across and see these are championship teams that we somehow have to put together too.''
He found promise in starter Travis Wood rebounding after a three-run third inning, two runs unearned because of an Anthony Rizzo throwing error.
``He wasn't that sharp in the beginning but he settled down and did a nice job [5 2/3 innings, seven hits, two earned runs].''
Wood took heart in that as well, and in his teammates' approach.
``We're doing everything we can, grinding out every at bat,'' Wood said. ``The wins will come. We're a young team.''
Wood said he has learned to be a different pitcher through this season.
``I've always been a guy who says `here it is.' I've learned how to use my other pitches, work both sides of the plate. So it's definitely been a learning year.''
Wood had a lead after a four-run fifth off starter Matt Cain, highlighted by Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer, his 25th of the season. The Giants tied the score again in the sixth after two outs on a double by Nady and triple by Brandon Belt, who scored on a wild pitch by Manuel Corpas.
Soriano has had one of his best seasons, now with nine years of at least 25 homers and four of them as a Cub.
But he is as much a teacher now.
``I'm just working hard to be a consistent player,'' said Soriano, who drove in three and also made a highlight catch at the left field wall ending the fourth.
``The season isn't over and we have to teach the young guys how to win,'' he said. ``I love this game and that's how I play this game--with my heart. We faced a good team in the Giants and we will face another first place team now. It's a good test for our young guys to teach them how to play hard.''
Cubs 7-5 loss to Giants is 82nd of the year
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