Cubs' offense unable to lead the way

HOUSTON -- When an offensive highlight of the night is a double from the pitcher that didn’t even lead to a run, it was probably an effort not worthy of distinction.

The Cubs have now gone 59 consecutive innings without holding a lead. The last time they were on top was in the fourth inning last Wednesday at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

In yet another game over the past week where the Cubs’ offense barely made a dent, Alfonso Soriano supplied the only run Tuesday with an impressive home run to left field.

Make that four home runs for Soriano over the past eight games. The bad news is that the Cubs have lost all eight of those games.

Doesn’t it figure that once one of the club’s power bats finally comes to life that everybody else goes into a slide, including Bryan LaHair, who now has one hit over his last 20 at-bats.

And then there is Starlin Castro, who struck out all four times he came to the plate, including once in the eighth inning with the tying run at third base and one out. His 31 strikeouts are now third most on the club behind sluggers Soriano (32) and LaHair (46). He has just four walks, or the same amount as Reed Johnson has in nearly two-thirds less at-bats.

“We just can’t seem to get anything going,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You get a guy at third and less than two outs and you get a couple of strikeouts. We just can’t get anything out of the ballpark. Soriano hit a solo shot but we just can’t seem to get that three-run shot.”

The Cubs are now batting .223 (51-for-229) with 20 runs over their last seven games after batting .277 (54-for-195) and scoring 29 runs over their five-game road trip to Milwaukee and St. Louis that ended last Tuesday.

Only Soriano is delivering now after not hitting a home run over the team’s first 30 games. He has driven in a run in eight of the team’s last 13 games.

“I started hitting homers but it’s not enough to win,” Soriano said. “It’s better to win games. I don’t care about my homers because I know I have been doing that for 12 years. The more important thing is to get a win. I don’t know what we have to do to win one game and hit more. We’re struggling not getting hits so we have to work more.”

Batting in the cleanup spot Tuesday, Soriano had a close up view from the on-deck circle of Castro’s four strikeouts.

“He’s just in his third year in the league so he’ll figure it out,” Soriano said. “That happened to him last year too. He had little struggles. It’s a long season and sometimes you have (struggles) one week or two weeks. But when you get out of your slump you become a better player. I hope when he gets out he will come out hot and be a better player.”

Soriano hopes that by everybody continuing to plug away, the offense can finally get in sync.

“I just try to do my job no matter if we’re struggling or not,” Soriano said. “If you’re young or a veteran, everybody has to do their job. I came here to play and try to do my job to make the team better and try to win.”