CHICAGO - Incessant talk of the 100-year anniversary of the Chicago Cubs' last World Series title already has grown old and really has nothing to do with their 0-2 start in 2008.
Blame the early stumble on the Milwaukee Brewers and their talented young lineup, one featuring speed and power. And one that got a lift yesterday from ex-Cub Jason Kendall.
"It's certainly not a good start," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said after the 8-2 beating from the Brewers. "I told our baseball team they better be ready to play. I meant it. I wasn't joking around."
Piniella said Monday's 4-3, 10-inning loss to Milwaukee in the opener was a matter of getting beat.
"Today we didn't play well. One of the things we need to do here is play good defensive baseball and not give away runs," he said.
During yesterday's loss, the Cubs made two errors, watched Milwaukee steal three bases, and heard some boos at Wrigley Field. And as soon as it was over, Piniella announced he already was making a lineup change by moving Alfonso Soriano - who is 0 for 9 - back into the leadoff spot from No. 2.
The Brewers got some strong pitching from Jeff Suppan, who held Chicago to two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Rickie Weeks homered on the game's first pitch and Kendall, who played 57 games for the Cubs last season, reached base five straight times.
"He's come in and worked hard to learn our pitching staff," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said of the catcher. "What I really like about him is that his focus is on that pitcher and whatever he gives us offensively is gravy."
Kendall's gravy included a single, two doubles, two RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base. Ryan Braun also had three hits in Milwaukee's 14-hit attack.
The Cubs were 8 1/2 games back of the Brewers in late June last season after a slow start before overtaking Milwaukee to win the NL Central. "We don't want to put ourselves in the position where we have to go from last to first" like last year, said Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot, who will flip with Soriano in the order. "I don't think anybody is pushing the panic button."
Chicago starter Ted Lilly (0-1) gave up four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.