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Brewers rock Crew-killer Jose Quintana, send Cubs to sixth straight loss

Tough night for Cubs starter Jose Quintana Friday.

MILWAUKEE — Contrary to popular social-media opinion and sports-talk math, the Brewers aren’t in position to eliminate the Cubs from National League Central contention during their weekend series at Miller Park.

Not even after pouncing on longtime Brewers killer Jose Quintana for eight runs in three innings on the way to a 13-10 victory in the series opener Friday that sent the Cubs to their sixth consecutive loss.

The Cubs have yet to play a home game and are already 5½ games back of first place for the first time since July 2017, when team president Theo Epstein admittedly was on the verge of selling off players at the trade deadline.

‘‘I could see us really hitting the panic button if it was the All-Star break, later on in the season,’’ third baseman Kris Bryant said. ‘‘But we still have a lot of time, a lot of ground to make up. I believe in this team. We’ve got a good nucleus, good players and all the talent in the world. There’s no worry on my end.’’

How bad is the early part of this season going for the Cubs?

Quintana had a 1.62 career ERA against the Brewers and was 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in six career starts at Miller Park before the Brewers pounded him for eight hits, including three home runs, during a 76-pitch start (33 in the first inning alone).

‘‘It’s really tough this time,’’ said Quintana, who made his first start of the season after making his 2019 debut with a four-inning relief appearance last week. ‘‘I feel really bad. I tried to pick up my teammates.’’

It’s the Cubs’ first six-game skid since their winless West Coast trip in May 2017 and their 1-6 record is their worst seven-game start since 1997, when they lost their first 14 games.

‘‘It’s not what we talked about in the spring, where we wanted to get off to a great start,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘But it’s going to make our story that much better.

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‘‘There’s no time to put our head down or sit here and complain or whine or whatever. We’ve got so many games left. It’s important to stay together here.’’

The Cubs still have two games left against the red-hot Brewers before their home opener Monday. On Saturday, they will try to avoid their first seven-game skid since 2014 and to avoid falling 6½ games out of first place for the first time since 2015.

The beleaguered bullpen continued to have problems, with Carl Edwards Jr. giving up a two-run homer in the fifth and Brandon Kintzler surrendering a three-run homer in the seventh in his first tough outing.

Manager Joe Maddon continued to focus on the bullpen as the one area to improve but said he liked how the team in general was handling the early adversity.

Whether the Cubs might make a bullpen move in the next day or two, Maddon said he didn’t expect anything immediately.

‘‘It’s not impossible, but I have not spoken to anybody yet,’’ he said.

The Cubs have allowed a franchise-record 16 homers already. That’s one of the reasons they already have lost two games when scoring 10 runs.

‘‘You’re going to have lulls through the season,’’ said right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who is scheduled to make his second start Sunday. ‘‘I’m just kind of hoping this is our time when we go through that and then come out of it.

‘‘We see where we’re at and we’re putting our work in and we know we need to make it happen when we go out there. That’s the bottom line. We know what we have in this room, and we’re all together on this.’’