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Three losses in Chicago halt Diamondbacks' momentum

The SportsXchange

Will the real Arizona Diamondbacks please stand up?

The defending NL West champion D-backs seemed to gain some much-needed momentum by winning three of four games against the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers entering the All-Star break, but any positive vibes seemed to dissipate when they opened the second half by being swept by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Arizona lost the series finale 3-1 Sunday in a game that was almost a carbon copy of the first two, at least offensively. The D-backs had one run and seven hits in each game of the series. They fell 6 1/2 games behind the new division leader, the San Francisco Giants, and dropped four games under .500, the lowest they have been all season.

It was the same story nearly every day in Chicago. The D-backs got decent pitching, except when right-hander Ian Kennedy struggled in an 8-1 loss on Friday, but could not get the big hit when necessary. They were 4-for-34 with runners on base and 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position. That one hit was Aaron Hill's bunt single in the first inning of the first game, after Willie Bloomquist led off the game with a double. The next at-bat summed up the weekend -- Justin Upton grounded into a double play. While a run scored, it could have been a much bigger inning.

The only other D-backs runs came on bases-empty home runs by Chris Young in the seventh inning of a 4-1 loss Saturday and by Hill in the eighth inning Sunday. The D-backs scored one run in 20 innings off Cubs starters Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Arizona had 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings against Maholm and Garza when it swept the Cubs in a three-game series at Chase Field from June 22-24.

The few chances the D-backs had, they were unable to capitalize. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position Saturday and 0-for-4 Sunday. With runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth inning Sunday, Gerardo Parra hit a hard line drive that struck Cubs right-hander Carlos Marmol in the right side. Marmol picked up the ball near the mound and threw out Parra to end the game. The batter before, manager Kirk Gibson pinch-hit Geoff Blum, a switch hitter, for Young in an attempt to gain a matchup advantage, but Marmol struck out Blum on a slider in the dirt.

The Cubs were 33-52 and tied for the fewest victories in the majors before the start of the series. Before series against the Dodgers, the D-backs were swept in a three-game series by San Diego from July 2-4. The Padres were 30-50 entering that set.