“That’s awful,” Baker said. “That’s an awful loss.”
The Cubs (18-29) look to rebound Saturday when Sean Marshall starts against the Braves in the middle game of the three-game set at Wrigley Field.
Marshall (3-2, 5.29 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots in Chicago’s starting rotation this season, especially at home where he is 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA.
Since April 28, when Chicago was five games over .500 at 13-8, the Cubs have gone 5-21 and won back-to-back games just once—when Carlos Zambrano and Marshall combined for 14 scoreless innings in the team’s consecutive shutouts against Washington on May 16-17.
Those games aside, the starting rotation is 2-15 with a 7.23 ERA in the last four weeks while the bullpen is 1-6 with a 4.76 ERA for a team that has lost 13 times by five or more runs.
Offensively, the Cubs have scored just 65 runs in the last 26 games and hit .232 with 13 homers, a .284 on-base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage.
Zambrano got some support Friday as he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but the Cubs’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead in a 6-5 loss.
With Chicago leading 4-1, pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit was credited with Atlanta’s first hit with two out in the seventh when his fly ball was misjudged by Jacque Jones in right field and ruled a double.
Marcus Giles then singled to cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-2.
“I couldn’t see the ball,” Jones said. “If I see the ball, I catch it. I tried to put my glove up at the last second.”
Holding a 5-3 advantage in the ninth, Ryan Dempster loaded the bases and allowed three runs—two earned—to blow his third save opportunity in four chances.
“You’ve just got to suck it up and go out there and make better pitches and be better and do a better job,” Dempster said.
“I jumped for the ball, I should have made the play, I have to take the heat and I’m man enough to take the heat,” Perez said.
Since losing four straight from May 3-6, Atlanta (25-23) has won 13 of 18 to move within 3 1/2 games of the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Horacio Ramirez (0-0, 15.00) returns to the rotation Saturday to make his first start since April 5, when he strained his left hamstring while allowing five runs and eight hits over only three innings in a 9-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The left-hander went 11-9 with a 4.63 ERA in 2005 and has made 71 starts since 2003, one behind Mike Hampton for the team lead.
Ramirez hasn’t allowed a run in his last 16 innings against the Cubs and is 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA lifetime versus them.
Catcher Michael Barrett went 2-for-5 with an RBI double Friday after being issued a 10-game suspension by Major League Baseball for an altercation with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski that led to both benches clearing last Saturday in a 7-0 Cubs loss.
Barrett is appealing the suspension.