An inconsistent offense has Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella feeling a little frustrated.
Hitting has been the least of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ concerns of late.
The Cubs try to avoid a third straight loss Thursday in the opener of a four-game set with the visiting Diamondbacks, who look to win their third consecutive series.
After scoring 25 runs during a weekend sweep of Milwaukee at Miller Park, Chicago (10-12) totaled seven while losing two of three at home to Washington in a series decided by a combined four runs.
Chicago is 4-8 in games decided by two or fewer runs.
The Cubs stranded 11 runners in a 3-2 loss Wednesday, and were 4 for 27 with runners in scoring position against the Nationals.
“We should be able to get some people in,” an agitated Piniella told the Cubs’ official website after his team fell to 4-5 at Wrigley Field. “We get some people on; you should be able to get them in.”
Chicago stars Aramis Ramirez(notes) and Derrek Lee(notes) have been key contributors to the team’s offensive inconsistency. The two have combined for seven homers and 23 RBIs, but Ramirez is batting .155 and Lee .203.
“It doesn’t help when I’m not getting on base and driving people in (from) the middle of the order,” said Lee, a lifetime .232 hitter against Arizona. “I have to start pulling my weight.”
Starting pitching has not been a problem for the Cubs, whose five starters all have ERAs under 3.00.
In his first start after undergoing shoulder surgery in November, Lilly allowed three hits in six scoreless innings of a 5-1 win at Milwaukee on Saturday.
“Hopefully, he keeps doing it,” Ramirez said of the 2009 All-Star. “If we score runs with the pitching we have, we’ll be OK.”
The left-hander is 2-3 with a 3.82 ERA in five starts against Arizona (10-11), which is coming off a wild 12-11, 10-inning win at Colorado on Wednesday.
The Diamondbacks (10-11) took two of three from the Rockies, after doing the same against Philadelphia last weekend.
Kelly Johnson(notes) homered in the 10th, while Chris Young hit a three-run shot and drove in five as the Diamondbacks blew a 6-0 first-inning lead, then rallied from five runs down to win for the third time in four games.
“I’m very proud of this group,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “(It) shows the resiliency that we’re striving for.”
Johnson has hit five of his team-leading eight homers over the last six games. He’s hitting .375 without a homer in his last five at Wrigley Field.
Arizona, however, has given up 32 runs in its last four contests and ranks near the bottom of the majors with a 5.60 ERA.
The former Yankee allowed two runs in a career-high eight innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.