Mistakes magnified in Cubs’ 8-2 loss to Rangers

And the tough opening stretch continues as the Cubs face the Mariners and Dodgers next.

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Patrick Wisdom

The Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom reacts after striking out swinging with the bases loaded during the sixth inning of Sunday’s game.

Matt Marton/AP

Nick Madrigal admitted he knew better Sunday than to rush a throw in the midst of a four-run rally.

As Madrigal gets acclimated to playing third base more frequently, the Cubs must continue to shore up little holes that became more glaring in an 8-2 loss to the Rangers.

The areas of improvement fall under more scrutiny with a tough six-game stretch coming up against the Mariners and Dodgers (in Los Angeles).

“From a big-picture view before the season started, I knew that first month and change would be a grind,” manager David Ross said. “We’re not in division [play], though. You look at the star power of some of these teams. 

‘‘You don’t take anyone lightly. I’m a big believer in staying in today.”

Because of the balanced regular-season schedule, the Cubs (4-4) won’t play against a National League Central foe until May 8 against the Cardinals.

Before that date, they will have played 13 of their next 26 games against legitimate playoff contenders.

Madrigal played shortstop at Oregon State before moving to second base as a professional, so playing third remains a work in progress, and Ross has been extremely pleased with his improvement.

Nevertheless, the Cubs fell short in other areas. Marcus Semien’s drive skipped past right fielder Trey Mancini for a two-run double to cap the Rangers’ four-run second inning, and Bubba Thompson chopped an RBI double over the head of the 5-6 Madrigal in the fourth.

Right field could be stabilized Monday. Seiya Suzuki, who is recovering from a strained left oblique, was scheduled to be examined after going 2-for-5 in two games on a minor-league rehab assignment for Triple-A Iowa.

Left-handed hitter Edwin Rios, who has played third base throughout most of his career, made his third start at designated hitter and ripped a two-run home run in the second inning.

“We’re just going to set him up and give him the at-bats,” Ross said. “We feel those things match up as a role player.”

That leaves Patrick Wisdom and Madrigal as primary options at third. 

With runners at second and third, Madrigal made a backhanded stop of a grounder hit by Thompson but was unsuccessful in his attempt to tag a retreating Jonah Heim at third. 

Madrigal quickly got to his feet, but his throw sailed over the head of first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Ross praised Madrigal’s effort but suggested he regain his balance before attempting a throw.

“I should have kept the runner at third and moved on to the next play,” Madrigal said. “I just think it’s a situation I’m new to, but you got to know before the ball is hit who is in the box, what the score is, if the play is to your backhand side.

‘‘You got to run through every play before it happens.”

Third-string catcher Luis Torrens had a pinch-hit single in the seventh but was picked off first base with the Cubs trailing by six.

After a torrid start at the plate, Dansby Swanson has two hits in his last 11 at-bats. A team spokesman said Swanson declined to talk to reporters about his wife, Mallory, who tore her left patella Saturday in a soccer exhibition game against Ireland in Austin, Texas.

“I asked him if he was all right,” Ross said of his chat with Swanson before the game Saturday. “He said, ‘Yeah, time to go to work.’ 

“He’s professional but also played with a lot on his mind and heart. He gives his all.”

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