It's almost time for the Chicago Cubs to decide if they will reinforce their roster or start replacing it.
Jeff Suppan (5-5) won for the first time in three weeks and had a run-scoring single as the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 on Sunday.
"From a player's standpoint, you can't start worrying," losing pitcher Kevin Tapani said. "It doesn't matter. We realize we've got to get into a good stretch."
After winning their first two games since the break, the Cubs have lost two straight. Saturday, Minnesota rookie Joe Mays shut them out.
Suppan beat the Cubs with his bat as well.
With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth, Suppan singled inside the third-base bag to score Tim Spehr.
"He's not the prettiest guy in the world, but he doesn't give ground," said Royals manager Tony Muser. "He whacked that ball pretty good."
"I was just trying to hit it on the ground," Suppan said.
Tim Spehr's three-run homer off Tapani (6-6) made it 5-1 in the sixth.
With a runner on second and two outs, Cubs manager Jim Riggleman decided to walk Joe Randa, who entered hitting .323, to get to the lighter-hitting (.212) Spehr. But Spehr hit Tapani's 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall.
"I know Spehr's got power, but Joe's been so hot," Riggleman said. "We wanted to pitch to the guy not getting a lot of at-bats."
After allowing a run in the first inning and Curtis Goodwin's single with one out in the second, Suppan retired 14 straight Cubs before Henry Rodriguez homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2.
Suppan is now 14-18 lifetime.
"Just because you might not know them doesn't mean they're not good pitchers," Grace said. "You still gotta go out and play them. If they weren't good, they wouldn't be i the big leagues."
The Cubs came close to tying it in the ninth off Scott Service. Jeff Reed hit a one-out triple to right field. After Goodwin flied out, pinch-hitter Jeff Blauser walked and Mickey Morandini doubled over the head of Jermaine Dye in right to score Reed and Blauser.
Service was able to hold on for his fifth save.
It was Tapani's first start since July 9, when he was forced to leave early with a bruised right thumb, suffered on a comebacker to the mound. He pitched seven innings in defeat.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed