Little help?

Cubs phenom Mark Prior is constantly praised by teammates and journalists for the surprising maturity he has displayed as pitcher and professional ballplayer at the tender age of 22.

But sometimes maturity is overrated.

The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan reports that on Sporting News Radio, Mark Prior said the following:

“I dislike the [evil — KBO’R] Cardinals so much that I will not even root for them,” Prior said. “I hope that Houston beats their brains in and just sends them all the way back to whoever is in fourth place now.

“Hopefully, I’ll leave it up to San Francisco next week, or Milwaukee. You know Milwaukee has a good offensive team. In talking with Richie Sexson, he would like to see us win. I think he might do us a little favor there.”

Matt Morris, who had said earlier in the week he wanted the Astros to win the Central rather than the Cubs and had been 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in his last five starts, pitched for St. Louis against the Astros on Friday night and lost 8-1 at Busch Stadium.

Morris gave up six earned runs in five innings against the Astros. Also noted by Cubs conspiracists was manager Tony LaRussa’s decision to not start Fernando Vina, Jim Edmonds or Tino Martinez in the game.

Whether or not the evil Cardinals are laying down for the ‘Stros, the Cubs aren’t keeping up their end of the bargain. You’d think that scoring 10 runs in the first half of a doubleheader against the Pirates would be enough to secure a sit-back-and-relax blowout in preparation for the night game, but no. The Cubs still only prevailed by a single run, 10-9.

Twenty-seven of the Cubs wins this year have been decided by a solitary run.

The second game posed no such trouble, as Cubs pitching collapsed entirely. I knew Dusty had given up on that game when he brought in Shawn “Unintentional Walk” Estes, who promptly walked two men, gave up a hit and run and retired two (one on a sacrifice bunt by the pitcher) before being replaced by … Antonio Alfonseca.

Oh well. Cubs now trail by a game and a half with eight left to play, nine for the Astros. The Cards-Astros pitching matchup is definitely not favorable today, with Tim Redding going up against Brett “If Only I Were As Good as Shawn Estes” Tomko.

So the Cubbies will probably be put in the position of winning just to keep pace tonight. But you never know. As much as it pains me to say it, I’m going to part ways with Prior on this one. I hate the Cards as much as anybody, but the Cubs need their help right now. That’s all there is to it. They can get their brains beaten in as soon as the Astros leave town. …

Karen writes:

I want to see my husband happy. Cubs winning the Division equals his happiness. Cubs winning the Division equals my hometown boys [the Astros] lose a shot at an incredible opportunity to put themselves in the books. There’s the fucking rub. Man, marriage is tough.

Hmm … seems the wifey’s starting to come around. I distinctly recall a recent incident that seemed to indicate otherwise. I promised Karen that if the Astros made it to the post-season instead of the Cubs, I would root hard for them all the way (unless they faced the Red Sox, of course, which is pretty unlikely).

This was greeted by silence.

I said, “Karen, isn’t there something you want to say to me?”

“No,” she said and laughed.