Cubs’ offense dries up in series loss to Cardinals

Patrick Wisdom found himself in a familiar situation in the ninth inning Sunday at Wrigley Field — pinch-hitting with two outs and two on and the Cubs trailing the Cardinals by a run.

Two days earlier, he had come to the plate in the eighth inning with two outs and one on and the Cubs trailing the Cards by a run. That at-bat ended with a high fly to left field that was caught at the wall.

His at-bat Sunday ended similarly. Wisdom put a good swing on a slider down in the zone, but his line drive also was caught at the wall and the Cubs fell 2-1, losing the three-game series.

They’re now 13-16 in one-run games this season. They scored only six runs in the series.

“It was a light day offensively,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t do enough to score runs, flat-out.”

The Cubs continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-10, and didn’t get their first hit until the fourth inning, on Mike Tauchman’s single. Right fielder Seiya Suzuki and left fielder Ian Happ each singled to load the bases with two outs, but the threat ended when second baseman Nico Hoerner grounded into a force out. Counsell challenged the call but lost.

Entering the game, the Cubs had scored the third-fewest runs in baseball since May 1.

“It’s been a tough go,” said starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (3-3), who allowed two earned runs, seven hits and two walks in six innings. “The best way to look at it is, you can start a better streak and turn the year around today. We just haven’t been able to turn the page off of this tough streak.”

The Cubs are 6-8 in June, so fair failing to take advantage of a lighter portion of the schedule that gave them a chance to make up ground after a 10-18 record in May. Now they find themselves 34-38, 8œ games behind the first-place Brewers and in last place in the National League Central.

Starting Monday, they have three-game series against the under-.500 Giants and Mets to end this nine-game homestand. If they want to turn this season around, it must start during this stretch. They haven’t won a three-game series since May 10-12 against the Pirates.

“We’re not winning games,” Taillon said. “At some point, we have to find a way to come together and, whether it’s winning 1-0 games or slugfests, we’ve got to find a way to win games. We can talk about it all we want, we can try to assess it and figure it out, but at some point, you’ve just got to put wins in the win column.”

The Cubs haven’t scored four-plus runs in back-to-back games since June 5-6. They point to the track records of their hitters as reason why they can turn it around. But past performance isn’t an indicator of future success.

“We’re not guaranteed anything,” Counsell said. “The back of our baseball card doesn’t guarantee us anything.”

Shortstop Dansby Swanson is having his worst year at the plate, slashing .212/.291/.349. He walked twice Sunday.

“We have so many guys in this clubhouse that believe in one another and have been through tough stretches as a group and through tough stretches individually,” Swanson said. “We’re going to keep pushing forward, and at some point, the law of averages will change and we’ll be in good shape.”

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