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Cubs’ Joe Maddon on 2-5 road trip: ‘We’re better than that; we know we’re better than that’

The Cubs’ ninth-inning rally fell short in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday that dropped them a game out of first place.

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers
Javy Baez yelled and spiked his helmet after getting called out on strikes in the seventh inning, drawing a fine. He later lined to center for the final out of Sunday’s 3-2 loss with the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — A runner thrown out at the plate in the ninth, a line drive that was caught that would’ve driven in two runs, and just like that, the Cubs lost again on the road — this time 3-2 to the Dodgers on Sunday night.

It left them with a 2-5 record to show for this two-city trip — 3-10 in their last two road trips — and dropped them a game behind the first-place Brewers in the National League Central.

But considering some of their bullpen issues and the extended absences of Ben Zobrist and Pedro Strop in the first half, manager Joe Maddon won’t complain about where the team stands three weeks before the All-Star break.

“We’re not in a bad spot,” Maddon said. “Normally we do play pretty well in the second half. We’ve been missing some key components, and our road record — I don’t have a solid reason for it. But moving forward, we’ve got [closer Craig] Kimbrel on the horizon, [setup man] Strop feeling better and the team on the field is generally in good health right now.”

Kimbrel, signed last week to a three-year, $43 million deal, traveled Sunday to Sacramento, where he’s scheduled to pitch for Class AAA Iowa on Tuesday, putting him on track to possibly join the Cubs’ bullpen by the end of the upcoming 10-game homestand.

Until then, the Cubs can look at the Dodgers and know the likely task at hand when/if they get to October.

They went 3-4 during their season series against the Dodgers, including 2-2 in one-run games.

“We’ve got similar teams, and it’s going to be really close games most of the time against them,” said Javy Baez, whose hard line drive to center with men at second and third was caught by Alex Verdugo to end the game.

“We’re probably going to see them in the playoffs, so we’ve got to get used to this competition.”

Not to mention find a way to win road games.

Granted, the Cubs have faced especially good teams in tough places to play on recent trips, including Colorado, Houston and St. Louis.

“They are good, but we’ve got to figure out a way to finish them off,” Maddon said. “We played a lot of good games on this trip but only won two of them. We’re better than that. We know we’re better than that. We’ve just got to keep pushing it. But I cannot lament today’s game.”

The final word (ICYMI edition)

After being shown a quote Friday from former college roommate Dylan Covey of the White Sox saying, “We definitely want to beat [the Cubs], no doubt, every single time,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant responded:

“I didn’t even know we played them next week.”

This and that

  • Infield prospect Nico Hoerner, last year’s first-round draft pick, had a splint removed from his injured hand in recent days and could be back on the field by early July. He suffered a fracture when hit by a pitch April 23.
  • Maddon said the club expects to have a decision by Tuesday on how it will fill injured Kyle Hendricks’ rotation spot at the end of the week. Hendricks is on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation.