Winning momentum continues to elude Cubs

The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks pitches during the first inning of Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — A weekend in Wisconsin is supposed to be an opportunity to escape problems for a few days and recharge the batteries.

For the Cubs, it was more like this: Just as they settled in next to the pool, news arrived that a tree fell on their house back home. And those batteries didn’t budge. The Cubs’ offense is still stuck on 1%.

There were plenty of problems with Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Brewers at American Family Field. Pitcher Kyle Hendricks had a miserable fourth inning, when Milwaukee scored all its runs. The Cubs suffered another costly defensive lapse.

But swinging toothpicks at the plate doesn’t give them any chance to win. Nico Hoerner hit the second pitch of the game over the left field wall for a home run. Two batters later, Cody Bellinger dropped a soft line single into center field.

And that was it. No more Cubs hits over the final eight innings against Brewers starter Freddy Peralta and a reliever. Pitcher Justin Steele showed some fire Saturday and the Cubs got a win, but then it was right back to another meek loss.

“Frustrating place to be for the group,” Ian Happ said. “Obviously, not close to where we want to be.”

Hendricks was coming off a pair of impressive starts, and was excellent during the first three innings Sunday. On the second time through the order, though, Christian Yelich blasted a home run to center field to put the Brewers up 2-1.

Three batters later, Rhys Hoskins lifted a high fly to deep left field. The ball seemed to get caught in the wind, Happ lost track of it and the ball landed on the warning track for a long single. The misplay put runners on first and second with one out before an RBI single made it 3-1 and Brice Turang connected on a grand slam to put the game out of reach.

“Had a good bead on it,” Happ said of the fly ball. “It moved a long way, kind of toward left-center there on its way down. My body wasn’t in a great spot, I thought it was more up against the wall over there and got turned around.

“Obviously, not my best moment out there and put Kyle in a tough spot where he’s got first and second and make him get four outs in an inning.”

Hendricks took all the blame for the rough fourth inning. Both home runs were on pitches left over the middle of the plate.

“Off the bat, in my mind that (Hoskins fly ball) was a homer, it was another bad pitch,” Hendricks said. “It would have been so lucky if I got an out there. That’s where my head was at, I was lucky it stayed in the ballpark, to be honest. That’s on me. I’ve got to keep going, execute a pitch and get out of there.”

The Cubs have three starting pitchers on the injured list right now, so Hendricks seems certain to get a couple more starts and try to maintain Sunday’s early success for a few more innings.

“I’m happy with the work I’m doing,” he said. “Just a slip there in that one inning. Just got to focus on all the good still, that’s all you can do.”

This season is feeling more and more like a lost cause for the Cubs (39-46), without much hope for a turnaround. But there are still three months left to play, so who knows? They’ll return to Wrigley Field on Tuesday to face Philadelphia, which just put Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber on the injured list.

“There’s a lot of baseball left,” Happ said. “We have to find a way to string a couple series together. It’s a game at a time, but we need to win a series and get on a little bit of a run here.”

Back to working for the weekdays, the Cubs need to remember scoring runs is part of the job description.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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