The Cubs limped into Pittsburgh for an off-day Thursday, carrying the burden of a nine-game losing streak, their longest in 10 years. A record of 15-29 offers few bright spots. One of those would be starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. He's turned in the Cubs' last two quality starts, but he's come away with two losses. Samardzija is part of a starting staff that is 10-18 with a 4.18 ERA. He seems to know the Cubs have to grind through the tough times. "This is really going to show our team character here in the long run," Samardzija said. "The next team you play is not going to take it easy on you, and the team after that is not going to take it easy on you. "You've got to fix it, and fix it quick." The only solace in the immediate future is that the Cubs have games coming up against the offensively challenged Pirates on the road and the equally hapless Padres at home before heading out on a tough 10-game trip. Manager Dale Sveum returns for Friday's game. He spent Wednesday in Arizona attending his son's high school graduation. Bench coach Jamie Quirk ran the club Wednesday. "If we had an answer, and a solution, we'd definitely bring it out," Quirk said. "Right now, it's keep grinding and keep working. Winning is contagious and losing is contagious and right now, we're seeing the bad end of it."
- Jeff Samardzija