Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella watches from the dugout during ...

[Piniella, for once “nice” isn’t the word he had in mind]

Something felt wrong when the Cubs web site pronounced their 14-9 win over the Reds yesterday as a “rout.”  When said routees come back with 8 runs in the last two innings, you’ve simply won.  If you believe in hubris and baseball gods, the Cubs got paid back in the 9th today, losing 4-3 to the pathetic Reds on pure incompetence.

In the 8th, Aaron Harang managed to hit his first two batters of the year, two Cubs whom Ronny Cedeno knocked in to take the lead, 3-1.  It was in the 9th when a perfect shitstorm came together that revealed just how tired and unfocused the Cubs are right now.  Kerry Wood managed to load the bases with the help of errors from Jim Edmonds and Ronny Cedeno.  To be fair, Wood had nothing today, and managed to give up three runs to lose a game that mattered.  Milwaukee lost to San Diego, and the Cubs could have used another game between themselves and the Crew.  WGN managed to catch Piniella’s reaction as Cedeno took his eye off a probable game ending double-play that loaded the bases.  As my Tivo reveals, Piniella’s easy to read exclamation was simply “Fuck me.”  After which, Piniella refused to speak to the media.

The last 7 Cub games, made up of 6 losses and one “rout,” have been to the Phillies, Astros, and Reds.  But after long hot streaks, two star pitchers burned out, and a Milwaukee squad that matches them win for win and loss for loss to keep pace “ the Cubs look like they hit a mental exhaustion point.  What should have been the esy stretch is over,  as the Cubs finish September against three contending teams “ 6 with the Brewers, 6 with the Cardinals, and 4 with the Mets.  Fuck me, indeed.

The Tribune‘s Dave van Dyck has the full autopsy here:

CINCINNATI – For those who believe in such things, the reason Ronny Cedeno went from hero to goat Sunday might have been that infamous billy goat’s footprint changing the direction of a high-hopping ball near second base.Even for those who don’t believe the Cubs are eternally doomed, Sunday would give them pause.After losing seven of eight games, including Sunday’s 4-3 stinker to the Reds, it is understandable that the mentality has evolved into a sky-is-falling September swoon.

Can anyone put things in perspective? If manager Lou Piniella could, he certainly didn’t try Sunday. He refused to meet with the media for the first time this season.

So it was up to team elder Derrek Lee to assess the mood.

“We still can’t panic,” Lee said. “We’re still in good shape. We just need to be better. We’re a better team than this, and we would like to play better. You don’t ever want to play under your talent level, and that’s what we’re doing right now.

“We’re in a funk. We’re in a skid. We’ve just got to fight out of it.”

With 19 games left, the fight goes to St. Louis after the Cubs take Monday off.