Loss by squeeze? That's a new one

WASHINGTON -- Although the Washington Nationals had a pair of two-run homers and 13 hits, a suicide squeeze was the game winner on Thursday night as the Cubs continue to find new ways to lose games.

Cubs starter Randy Wells had a pitch count issue, going four-plus innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits, including two-run homers by Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa in his 89 pitches of work.

For some reason, Wells has not regained the form he showed in spring training and then after missing seven weeks with a strained right forearm. Wells' last eight starts have produced an 0-3 record with five no-decisions.

"I don't know if there is a different time frame for different people, coming back from [injuries]," manager Mike Quade said. "It's a few things: coming back successfully, coming back quickly, coming back effectively; there are a whole bunch of roads you can take with that. But when he is down in the zone and he keeps his soft game down he is pretty good."

As usual the over-taxed bullpen was asked to throw five innings. The only run they gave up was in the sixth inning on the suicide squeeze laid down by Wilson Ramos with Michael Morse coming full steam ahead. The bunt was bobbled by reliever Kerry Wood who had no play at the plate. The ironic thing was that the Nationals botched the squeeze two pitches before when Ramos took a full swing while Morse came charging in. Ramos fouled the ball off.

"I thought that was kind of a gutsy call, especially on a third attempt in a row and especially off a guy who couldn't throw a strike the other night," said Wood, who was referring to his Monday outing when he walked three, struck out three and had a wild pitch in taking the loss.

The losing for the Cubs has taken on a life of its own as the team has lost five of six, including three in a row in Washington. The Cubs are now buried 18 games under .500.

"I don't think it's tough at this point," Wood said. "I just think everybody is tired of losing. We still have to come back tomorrow and try to win a game. It's not tough just frustrating."

Wells will not pitch again before the break and said he will use the time off to try to find the answers to all this losing.

"Things just aren't there," Wells said. "I don't think it's one particular pitch. It's confidence in the ability to make pitches when you need to. There are a lot of areas I need to improve on. To try to pinpoint just one is pretty tough.

The fourth and fifth starter spots continue to be a black hole for the Cubs. Pitchers who have started in those slots have a total of five wins.