Cincinnati Reds defeat Chicago Cubs, 5-4

CINCINNATI -- Four games in, and the Cubs' season is already starting to look like an exercise in waste management.

Emphasis on waste.

Three straight nights the Cubs have taken leads into the eighth inning, and for the second time in that span Friday, the pen couldn't hold -- as rookie Esmailin Caridad walked the first two batters of the eighth, got caught flat-footed on a bunt that loaded the bases, then gave up a grand slam to Drew Stubbs, sending the Cubs to a 5-4...

CINCINNATI -- Of all the Cubs hitters who came out of Atlanta with numbers on the wrong side of the Mendoza Line, nobody's stat line looked emptier than new leadoff man Ryan Theriot's -- especially for how well he seemed to make contact.

''His batting average is zero? Really?'' manager Lou Piniella said before the game Friday. ''I didn't realize he was on the snide. I might have to drop him to the eighth hole here soon.''

Piniella was kidding. And within a couple of ...