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Cubs struggle in ugly opening loss to Reds

The Cubs returned to Wrigley Field on top of the world after they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on the strength of Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter.

They came back to earth Monday.

Reliever Justin Grimm gave up a pair of two-run homers in the sixth inning, Starlin Castro committed three errors, a pair of Joe Maddon moves backfired and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cubs 13-6 on Monday night. Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall both homered off Grimm, leading to the Cubs’ fifth loss in six.

“I am over it already,” Maddon said. “Just throw that one away.”

Grimm entered the night with a 1.17 earned-run average but gave up four runs and got just one out, bumping his ERA to 2.09.

The Cubs had a 5-3 lead entering the sixth after scoring four runs of their own in the fifth. Addison Russell drove in two runs with a double to the left-field corner to even the game at 3-3, then Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant followed with RBI singles to give the Cubs a short-lived advantage.

Trailing 7-5, the Cubs got runners on first and second in the eighth. Making only his second eighth-inning appearance of the year, Aroldis Chapman struck out Tommy La Stella and then with Castro up Bryant was caught stealing second as part of an attempted double steal to end the threat.

“You’re facing Chapman so you don’t really anticipate a couple hits in a row. If you get the guy to second base, second and third, we’ve done that to him before then all of a sudden it takes a single to tie the game. It didn’t play,” Maddon said. “The thing is, you’ve got to continue to be aggressive, try to continue with the aggressive moves. Sometimes they don’t play out and then they look that way. But I was on board with all that stuff.”

That double steal was the second Maddon move that didn’t pay off.

In the fifth, the Reds had runners on first and second with two outs. Instead of letting Kyle Hendricks face Joey Votto, Maddon intentionally walked the Cincinnati first baseman even though first base was occupied. Brandon Phillips then hurt the Cubs with a two-run single that put Cincinnati ahead 3-1.

“I have no problem with a base being open. It doesn’t have to be first base,” Maddon said. “It was a much better matchup with Kyle pitching versus Phillips as opposed to Votto right there.”

Things got worse in the ninth, with Castro committing two of his three errors.

“It was a really bad night for me, and the team,” Castro said. “Come back tomorrow, keep your head up and try to make every play and swing the bat.”

Cincinnati scored six times and was helped by a pair of Castro errors, both of which should have ended the inning. He couldn’t handle Suarez’s grounder to his left, allowing Jay Bruce to score. Then with Chapman making a rare plate appearance, Castro dropped Russell’s throw on what looked like a routine force, letting Suarez score.

For a moment it looked like Russell would go to first, which fooled Castro. Still, that’s a play he has to make and he knew it.

“I don’t have any excuses. I should’ve made that play,” Castro said. “It was right in the chest. You have to make that play. It confused me a little bit, but the throw was right there. I have to make that play.”

Maddon agreed.

“The second one, I think what I saw happen was Addison looked like he was going to throw to first base and then threw to second base and maybe Starlin took his eye off of him because he thought he was throwing to first base,” Maddon said. “A little bit of a deke but it was still a good throw and he should have caught it, but I think that’s what happened.”

Dexter Fowler hit his 15th homer in the third and Russell had a solo shot in the ninth off Chapman.

Looking for his first win since Aug. 8, Hendricks went five innings and allowed five hits and three runs. After returning to Chicago ahead of his teammates, Hendricks didn’t threaten to match Arrieta’s feat, starting the game by giving up Jason Bourgeois’ infield single.

The loss meant the Cubs finished 19-9 in August, one win shy of their first 20-victory month since August of 2008 when they were 20-8. And if the Cubs didn’t have a letdown after Sunday when they got in early this morning they had… something.

“They got in at 5, 6 in the morning. You don’t want to make excuses but to turn around like that and come play this night game it’s tough to do,” Hendricks said. “Not that that was the reason for it out there tonight but it was going to be a tough one for us.”

An ugly one, too.