Power hitting still a challenge for Cubs

CHICAGO -- Somewhat overlooked in the Chicago Cubs' victory in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday was the fact that they went another game without a home run.

Make that nine games now since the Cubs have gone deep, a streak that began after the Cubs hit a pair of home runs in the St. Louis Cardinals home opener on April 13.

The last time the Cubs went longer without a home run was a 10-game drought June 30-July 13, 2007.

Part of the issue has been ballpark circumstances. Miami's new Marlins Park, where the Cubs played last week, is proving to be a fly ball graveyard, while the wind has been blowing in for most of the current homestand.

But the Cubs aren't built for much power anyway, especially with Alfonso Soriano turning into a singles hitter and Bryan LaHair not starting against left-handers. He is 0-for-6 against lefties this season with five strikeouts.

LaHair was on the bench at the outset again Monday as Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia took the mound. But he finally emerged in the ninth inning and his determined 12-pitch walk against Cardinals right-hander Jason Motte could make manager Dale Sveum rethink his use of LaHair.

If LaHair could be that determined against one of the game's best closers, fouling off six consecutive pitches at one point, maybe that kind of savvy can overcome his early issues against lefties. His ninth-inning mindset sure sounded like he could figure it out.

“I just don't have any fear,” LaHair said about the clutch situation. “I'm relaxed. I'm real confident with two strikes. Sometimes when you're struggling you're not as confident with two strikes but I just feel like I can do damage with two strikes just as I can with no strikes. That kind of situation you just have to relax and breathe and let the anxiety go.”

With an on-base streak that has now reached 13 consecutive games, and an OPS of 1.106 in 14 games, LaHair is starting to look like he's worth the risk against lefties.