Road rash: Cubs blow 3 1/2-game division lead in five games flat because of more road woes

Their 11-1 loss Wednesday to the Phillies sent them to their 12th consecutive non-winning road series and their 37th road loss overall, matching their highest total for a season under manager Joe Maddon.

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Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels didn’t record an out in the third inning Wednesday in his return to Philadelphia.

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — Blame this one on left-hander Cole Hamels’ slow walk back from the injured list. Or on Phillies ace Aaron Nola’s jugular impulse. Or even on former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel’s return to their dugout as hitting coach/Jedi.

But it doesn’t matter when, doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter what. For the Cubs this season, it only seems to matter where. And anywhere but Wrigley Field has become the land of the loss for this once-mighty championship team.

An 11-1 rout Wednesday by the Phillies assured the Cubs of their 12th consecutive non-winning road series. It was their 37th loss on the road this season, already tying their most in four previous seasons under manager Joe Maddon.

Talk about road rash.

The team with the second-best home record in the National League just squandered another division lead after hitting the road. This time, a 3½-game lead disappeared in five games. The Cardinals moved percentage points ahead of them in the NL Central.

‘‘We’ve seen this all year,’’ Maddon said, shaking his head. ‘‘If I had a great explanation, I would give it to you, I promise. I don’t have one, except that you’ve got to keep coming out. You’ve got to get back in the huddle and keep playing.’’

First baseman Anthony Rizzo said last week he doesn’t care if the Cubs lose all their remaining road games and win all their home games, provided they win the division.

Never mind how unlikely it is that such a 21-21 finish would be enough to make it happen.

If the Cubs can’t win on the road during the season, what kind of a prayer will they have to win a series at all in October?

‘‘The team that provides hope is the ’73 Mets,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Look up their record.’’

Even the 82-victory Mets, who lost to the Athletics in the World Series, were a lot better on the road (39-41) than these Cubs, who would need a 17-4 road finish to be that good.

‘‘Listen, I am so a one-day-at-a-time guy,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘It was an awful night. They kicked our butt. But I do expect a better product tomorrow.’’

The Cubs are fast running out of tomorrows to figure this out.

Among the more troubling home/road breakdowns is the pitching, which features a 3.35 team ERA at home and a 4.90 ERA on the road. That includes a 4.84 road ERA for the starters after Hamels failed to get an out in the third inning, six days after struggling to finish three innings in Cincinnati.

And there’s this: The Cubs haven’t won a road series against a division opponent in eight tries. They have four such series left, including the final two of the season.

Assuming they don’t go 18-3 in their last 21 away games, they’ll try to make the postseason with a losing road record for only the third time in their history (1998 and 1932).

Forget 1973. Picture navigating October in the wild-card era with no GPS and 25 millennials trying to read a road map.

The last team to reach the World Series with a losing road record during the season was the 2012 Tigers, who lost to the Giants. In 24 postseasons in the wild-card era, only three teams with a losing road record during the season won the World Series, most recently the 2006 Cardinals.

If there’s a ray of hope for the Cubs, maybe it’s the 2008 Rays, who went 40-41 on the road but wound up in the World Series — with Maddon as their manager.

‘‘If there’s anything you resort to, it’s fundamentals,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Go back to the basics. Don’t try anything new because it’s not going to play right now. Keep preaching the fundamentals, keep playing, and it’s going to come back to us.’’

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