Cubs' losing streak reaches six games

CHICAGO (AP) -- LaTroy Hawkins caught Placido Polanco's line drive back to the mound and threw to first base for what could have
been a game-ending double play. The ball hit Jose Offerman's helmet and ricocheted deep into the stands, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.

"It's one of those things where everything that could go wrong, goes wrong," Hawkins said after the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Friday. "It'll turn around. The baseball gods are just testing us right now, that's all."

The Wrigley Field crowd booed the Cubs after the top of the ninth and again when the game ended. Chicago has lost six straight, its longest skid in two years.

Hawkins (1-3) relieved Mark Prior in the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, and the Phillies loaded the bases on singles by Pat Burrell
and David Bell and a one-out walk to Offerman. Bell's hit glanced off Hawkins' outstretched glove and rolled toward third. Hawkins couldn't find it right away and Bell reached without a throw.

"I thought the big play was the ball David Bell hit up the middle," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "If he doesn't knock that down, there's a good chance that's a double play and nobody's on base."

Polanco, batting for Mike Lieberthal, then lined the ball back to Hawkins.

"Offerman used his head," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Chicago (12-16) was coming off a pair of losses at Milwaukee in which the winning run scored in the ninth.

"This is a first for me," Baker said. "I think he had him doubled off at first base, and he hits the runner in the head and the ball goes in the stands. I thought we finally got a stroke of luck. ... I know [Hawkins] is trying hard. He feels terrible like the rest of us."

Hawkins has saved only four of seven chances this season.

"I should've held on to the ball, plain and simple," Hawkins said. "I thought I had a chance, and I hit his helmet. ... I couldn't do it again if I tried."

Billy Wagner (1-0) got four consecutive outs after giving up Derrek Lee's two-run homer in the eighth, which put Chicago ahead 2-1. Wagner hadn't been scored on in 11 innings this season.

Jose Macias pinch-hit for Prior leading off the bottom half and singled. Jerry Hairston moved Macias to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Rheal Cormier relieved starter Cory Lidle.

One out later, Wagner was brought in to face Lee. Wagner threw a 98 mph fastball on a 3-1 pitch, and Lee hit his NL-leading ninth homer.

Wagner said he wanted to walk Lee when he was behind 3-0 in the count but then changed his mind after getting a strike.

"I wanted to throw it up, because it's 3-1 and I wanted him to swing," Wagner said.

Lee wasn't surprised Wagner pitched to him, even though he's leading the NL in batting average (.412) and RBI (32).

"I don't think they brought in the closer to pitch around me," Lee said. "I thought he'd come after me."

Prior was in line for his fourth victory but ended up with a no-decision after striking out 10, walking two and allowing four hits in eight innings.

"I'm not going to address the mood of the team because I don't have the answers for the rest of the guys," Prior said. "We'll get through it."

Lidle gave up one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings.

"I was changing speeds a lot," he said. "I got ahead of most of the hitters, and those that I fell behind, I wasn't scared to throw offspeed to them."

Burrell hit his seventh homer leading off the second. The Phillies loaded the bases before Prior struck out Lieberthal, Lidle and Jimmy Rollins to get out of trouble.

Prior also struck out the first two batters in the third inning before giving up a broken-bat single to Burrell. He then retired 16 of his next 17 batters, allowing only a walk to Marlon Byrd in the fourth.

Chicago loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Jeromy Burnitz flied out.

Game notes
Lee extended his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games. He's batting .468 during the streak ... The Phillies placed right-hander Tim Worrell on the 15-day disabled list after the reliever told the team he had to deal with "personal psychological issues." ... Cubs second baseman Todd Walker, out since April 11 with a left knee sprain, ran and took ground balls before the game. He thinks he could return in a week. ... Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was walking around the Cubs' clubhouse and said he will need another three weeks before he can begin rehab work. He had surgery last week after rupturing a
tendon in his left groin. ... The Cubs are on their longest skid since losing nine straight from May 8-18, 2002.

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