0-tel California: Cubs prisoners of their own device in bat-ugly trip

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The Cubs’ only scoring play of the game Wednesday ended when Willson Contreras was tagged out trying to advance to an unmanned third base in the second.

SAN DIEGO — The more fans call for change, the more the lineup stays the same.

Manager Joe Maddon doubled down Wednesday on the patience refrain he has invoked for weeks as his young hitters continue to struggle during the team’s slow start.

“It’s the nature of a young player,” Maddon said. “Yes, they’re World Series champs; they did a great job last year. But that doesn’t mean your mind [doesn’t] work differently maybe the next year.

“I just think you’ve got to stay with them.”

Even on a day he gave a scheduled rest to struggling shortstop Addison Russell (.216), Maddon -remained patient with little change in production from the lineup.

The Cubs managed just three hits and were beaten 2-1 by a last-place Padres team. It was their first winless two-city road trip since their 101-loss season in 2012.

This time, the Cubs scored just nine runs in six games, including five on just 11 combined hits against the Padres.

And their woes continued with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-9 on Wednesday, 2-for-26 against the Padres and 3-for-40 on the road trip.

And this: They managed just one hit in 22‰ scoreless innings against relievers.

“I think it’s an anomaly moment offensively for us,” Maddon said. “We just have to keep working on it.”

Postseason hero Kyle Schwarber (.170), whose only hit during the trip was a solo home run in a 6-2 loss Tuesday, stayed in the No. 2 spot in the order. He went 0-for-4 with his team-leading 59th and 60th strikeouts.

Maddon said he has liked Schwarber’s at-bats lately and sees no reason to drop his former leadoff man lower in the order.

Even after hitting his homer Tuesday, Schwarber didn’t bite when asked if he was breaking out of his slump.

“There’s still work to do,” he said. “Took a step in a positive direction. I’ve just got to take it at-bat by at-bat and not worry about previous pitches, previous at-bats. I feel like it’s getting better. I can’t look at the numbers. I’ve just got to stick with what’s going on in the box and stay with the process.

“There’s a lot of season left to be played. It’s the same with our team. A lot of season to be played, and things can turn out differently.”

Notes: Ben Zobrist’s left wrist continues to bother him when he swings the bat right-handed, and he was lifted for right-handed pinch hitter Albert Almora Jr. in the eighth inning with lefty Brad Hand pitching. “It’s kind of a how-does-it-feel-today kind of thing,” said Zobrist, who hopes to be functional from both sides of the plate by Friday, when the Cubs open a 10-game homestand.

υ Kris Bryant slipped rounding second base in the sixth and turned his ankle. But he waved off the trainer, finished the game and is expected to play Friday.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com


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