Division woes continue for Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs continue to run into the brick wall known as the National League Central.

Coming off a solid road trip, winning five out of nine in a three-city trip, their division losses continue to mount. The Cubs’ record in the Central is not only bad, but the worst intra-division record in the league.

A portion of the problem is understandable, knowing the three best records in the league belong to the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

“You certainly remember the days when this division wasn’t very good,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “That is a part of baseball and that is the place we have to get to as an organization and your 25-man roster.”

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija took the loss on Friday, battling both the Pittsburgh lineup and a lack of fastball command.

“We feel pretty good going into every game we play these guys,” Samardzija said. “We understand we need to put a solid ‘A’ game together when we play them. We also know we need an ‘A’ game against all three teams at the top of the division. Teams like them play solid baseball and don’t make mistakes. They take advantage of your mistakes. From my part, you can’t have five walks. I have to improve.”

The Cubs are 25-22 against the rest of the major leagues, but an 11-26 against the Central has them looking up in the standings. But at the same time, they’re not getting down.

“I think we got what it takes (to compete) but it hasn’t been working out the way we want it to.” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “I am sure (our division opponents) have a lot of respect for us. We are not pushovers. This is a long, long season. We just flush this (game) away and look forward to tomorrow.”

Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano threw a complete-game four-hitter, making the Cubs’ job that much tougher. Liriano had only one other complete game in his career. That came on May 11, 2011 when he no-hit the White Sox as a member of the Minnesota Twins.