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Cubs lose another game on the road as long balls spoil Yu Darvish’s start

The Reds beat the Cubs 5-2, sending them to their 23rd loss in their last 33 road games.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto circles the bases for the Reds after hitting the third of three homers off Darvish in Friday night’s loss. They were among only four hits allowed by Darvish — who has a 3.24 ERA since the end of June.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

CINCINNATI — With the home-white jerseys still hanging at each Cub’s locker stall, pitcher Brandon Kintzler walked into the visitors clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after the Cubs’ loss Friday night, spotted Ian Happ’s red phone on a table and in a show of mock anger slapped it loudly to the floor six feet away.

“Wrong number?” one writer said.

At which point Kintzler slowly picked up the phone, put the receiver to his ear and said, “We’re good.”

Kintzler’s faux rage and his punch-line comment said almost as much as the words scrawled on the athletic tape Happ affixed to the handle of the receiver: “No panic.”

The Cubs still have their lead in the National League Central, and nobody’s worried about a 5-2 loss in August during a stretch of better baseball, especially one day after routing the Reds in the opener of a four-game series.

Starter Yu Darvish even continued his exceptional, new-look command on the mound, allowing only four hits and striking out nine without a walk in six innings.

The only problem, as Darvish noted: “Three f---ing homers. That sucks.”

If anything, the white, pinstriped jerseys told the bigger story of this game — at least until the Cubs take their next two shots at trying to win their first road series since the middle of May.

Jason Heyward’s home jersey even had been altered to show a uniform number of 312 to emphasize the sense of finding home baseball cooking on what has been three months of miserable road experiences.

“I knew it,” Darvish said of the deep thinking lately on fixing what has ailed the Cubs on the road this year. “But my only focus was to focus on each pitch. I did that, but it didn’t work today.”

Of course, neither did the jersey trick.

Next.

If one of these guys has another idea for inspiring better play on the road, it’s sounding a lot like what Kintzler heard on the other end of that phone:

No answer.

On this night, facing a different pitcher might have been a start.

Trevor Bauer, the former Indians All-Star making his second start for the Reds since being acquired July 31 at the trade deadline, pitched seven impressive innings to remain unbeaten (4-0) against the Cubs.

Bauer (10-8) has been so dominant in his career against the Cubs that when he allowed only one run in seven innings, his ERA against them went up to 0.67.

“He’s got World Series experience. He’s got really good stuff,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And he got better — he smelled it as the end, his last two innings.”

He struck out 11 and walked just two. And after Nick Castellanos’ homer in the first inning, Bauer retired eight of the next nine (seven on strikeouts) and had only two jams to pitch around.

“We had our chances,” Castellanos said. “We just didn’t capitalize. Baseball.”

The Cubs’ best chance for a big inning came in the eighth against Michael Lorenzen, when they had two walks and a single to load the bases with nobody out trailing 5-1.

After a pitching change, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch to force in a run, but then Amir Garrett got the lather-rinse-repeat sequence of the night on a fielder’s choice grounder by Javy Baez, a three-pitch strikeout against Ian Happ and a grounder to first by Kyle Schwarber.

Darvish (4-6), who had the best month of his brief Cubs career in July, still is working on winning consecutive games for the first time since signing as a free agent before last season.

He didn’t walk a batter in his third consecutive start — and fourth in six starts — and gave up only four hits.

But three of the hits were home runs: a go-ahead two-run shot by Aristides Aquino in the second, a leadoff shot by Eugenio Suarez in the fourth and a one-out, solo shot by Joey Votto in the sixth.

“I felt pretty good today. It just sucks.”