The Chicago Cubs can talk all they want about what was taken away from them in the eighth inning Saturday, the fact is that the discussion continues to revert back to an offense that is anything but opportunistic.

Apparent blown umpire calls in the eighth inning not only led to Alfonso Soriano getting picked off second base and Darwin Barney missing out on a walk with the bases loaded in the same inning, the Houston Astros then turned around to win the game 4-3 on a ninth-inning squeeze bunt by Ronny Cedeno.

What will haunt the Cubs is their failure to score in the third inning after loading the bases with one out (Soriano popped out and Anthony Rizzo struck out), while they failed to do any damage with two runners on and one out in the fourth inning.

They did score twice in the third inning on Luis Valbuena’s two-run single and again in the fifth on a home run from Nate Schierholtz, but putting together sustained rallies has proved to be daunting.

“It’s a broken record,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We just can’t seem to get that hit to bust the game open in those situations. We get guys on and we just can’t get them in.”

The lack of early clutch inning only put more focus on the eighth when nothing seemed to go the Cubs’ way. After Soriano’s one-out double, Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked. With Ryan Sweeney at the plate and Astros pitcher Jose Cisnero seemingly struggling with his control, Soriano took it upon himself to be an even further distraction at second base.

Cisnero might have had problems throwing to the plate, but he had no issues throwing a strike to second base just as Soriano went hands-first into the bag. Television replays showed a bang-bang play, with Soriano getting called out. Sveum argued with second-base umpire David Rackley to no avail.

To make matters worse, Sweeney then dropped a single into center field that would have tied the game. After Wellington Castillo walked to load the bases, Barney appeared to walk on a 3-1 pitch that was low and inside. But umpire Phil Cuzzi called it a strike and Barney popped up.