MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins did more damage in one inning against Jeff Samardzija than any team had in his 11 previous starts.
Samardzija gave up eight runs, including six in the fourth, as the Twins romped, 11-3, over the Cubs on Saturday in Interleague Play. Chicago now has lost 20 of its last 24 games since May 15, and fell to 0-5 against the American League this season. Eleven of those 20 losses have been decided by one run, but this wasn't close.
"It's getting a little boring now, these kind of losses," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We haven't had too many of these, thank goodness. Most of them have been very close ballgames, and we've been in every ballgame for the most part all year. Losing, you can only take so much of it, and the consistency of it now is getting a little out of hand, that's for sure."
The effort and preparation is there, Sveum said. The Cubs just haven't been able to execute.
"The fact of the matter is, when you're leaving 260 people on base without getting a hit, you're not going to win many ballgames," he said.
They stranded eight on Saturday, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"I think we lost our confidence -- I think that's more important," said Alfonso Soriano, who gave the Cubs fans in the sellout crowd of 39,309 something to cheer about in the eighth with a runner on base when he hit his 12th homer into the second deck in left field.
"We're working so hard to try to get better and have a better record, but I think the confidence is down," Soriano said. "We have to keep working hard and work to get our confidence back. I think that's the problem in this clubhouse right now is we don't have the confidence."
If they could string together some hits, like the Twins did in the fourth, it would help everyone's attitude.
"Anytime you're told over and over, 'Hey, you're struggling with runners in scoring position' ... guys really don't need to be told that to know what's going on," Reed Johnson said. "It could be an issue, too, where it's a pressing type of thing. We continue to play the game the right way and guys are playing hard. I know for us as a group, I don't think that's enough. I think guys want to see results in the win column. ... Hopefully, we can get that confidence back and it snowballs in the right direction instead of the wrong direction, like it is now."
Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe, Denard Span and Joe Mauer all hit RBI doubles in the Twins' fourth, and Plouffe added a solo homer in the fifth to back Scott Diamond (5-1), who threw six shutout innings. The Cubs dropped to 2-13 against left-handed starters.
Samardzija (5-4) entered the game with a 2.26 ERA in his last eight starts, and had not given up more than five runs. He had seven quality starts out of his 11. On Saturday, he was charged with eight runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings, matching his shortest start of the season. It was the most runs allowed by a Cubs starting pitcher this year.
"He couldn't command anything, couldn't keep the ball down," Sveum said. "You hope you have a guy out there to overpower them and put them away and give us a chance, and obviously it got out of hand."
After the Twins took a 2-0 lead in the second, they sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth. Minnesota had two on and one out when Doumit hit an RBI double down the right-field line. Plouffe followed with a two-run ground-rule double to center. One out later, Jamey Carroll walked, Span hit an RBI double and Ben Revere followed with an infield RBI single to chase Samardzija. Mauer greeted Casey Coleman with another RBI double.
"Everybody was a part of it with some really big hits with two outs to keep the inning going and going and going," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And against a very good pitcher over there, a guy who has really been throwing the ball very well."
Not this time.
"You've just got to keep these guys off balance, and when you don't have the secondary pitches to do that, they can hone in on your heater and you make a couple mistakes and they take advantage of it," Samardzija said. "The best thing you can do is chalk it up as a learning experience."
What the Cubs players have learned is that Sveum is very even keeled, and hasn't thrown a public fit despite his frustration.
"It's not on him -- it's not on our staff," Samardzija said. "It's on the guys here in the locker room. I think we understand it, we understand what we need to do to get better. [Sveum] has been great.
"He has every right to be upset, and I think he's kept his cool with everything that's going on and that says a lot about him as a manager. I think he understands we're working hard and trying to go in the right direction, and we just need to get better."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.