Cubs split ‘wacky’ series vs. Brewers, head to New York with plenty at stake

The Cubs dropped the final game of the four-game set in Milwaukee on Thursday.

SHARE Cubs split ‘wacky’ series vs. Brewers, head to New York with plenty at stake
The Cubs’ Cody Bellinger hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Thursdays’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cubs’ Cody Bellinger hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Thursdays’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Morry Gash/AP

MILWAUKEE — Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer admits he isn’t “perfect” at remaining even-keeled during a roller coaster of a season.

“I think my wife and family would probably agree with that,” he said.

But he says maintaining that mindset is part of his job and something he’s still trying to get better at every year, two decades into his baseball-operations career. It’s easier said than done.

“In a great year, you’re going to lose 40% of the games,” he said. “And you have to try to maintain real perspective. And that means you have to maintain real perspective when you win nine out of 10. You have to maintain real perspective when you lose nine out of 10. They’re the same exact thing.”

This season has provided him with extreme ups and downs to test his resolve. The Cubs’ four-game series against the Brewers this week alone was full of dramatic swings. A blown six-run lead. An extra-inning victory. Roof-gate. Ejections. A ninth-inning comeback. A close loss.

“Just wacky,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said after the Cubs’ 6-5 loss Thursday to Milwaukee. “Just back and forth. There was no such thing as momentum. It just felt like it was all over the place.”

The Cubs (40-46) split the series with the Brewers and left Milwaukee eight games back of the National League Central-leading Reds. The deadline for Hoyer and his front-office group to decide on a lane for the trade deadline keeps creeping closer.

“Series could have gone either way for all those games,” center fielder Cody Bellinger said. “And to come out and split, it’s not great, not terrible.”

Bellinger went 4-for-4 with a home run, double and two singles Thursday, driving in or scoring four of the Cubs’ five runs. He extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching a career high.

If the Cubs don’t make up ground before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, he’ll become a prime trade candidate.

“I know what’s possible,” said Bellinger, who’s heading toward free agency after the season. “But I like being here. Focusing on helping this team win while I am here. Hopefully we can get on a little roll and stay together. We have a really good group here.’’

As the Cubs and Brewers beat up on each other, the Reds put together a five-game winning streak to start to pull away from the pack. But the theme of the series also said something about how the Cubs are approaching the season.

“Guys are grinding hard right now and playing with every ounce of energy they’ve got,” manager David Ross said. “It’s standing out. We’re never out of a game.”

The Cubs bounced back from one of their worst losses of the season, an 8-6 loss after an early six-run lead, to grind out a 7-6 win in the 11th inning Tuesday.

“Last night was drunk there for a minute,” left-hander Justin Steele said the next day.

Then they pulled off what Steele dubbed his favorite win of the season, a 4-3 victory Wednesday, courtesy of a three-run rally in the ninth inning.

On Thursday, the Cubs fell behind as the Brewers mounted a fifth-inning rally against Marcus Stroman. Yan Gomes tied the score with a two-run blast in the eighth. But ex-Cub Victor Caratini gave the Brewers the lead with a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning.

Only a three-game road series against the Yankees stands between the Cubs and the All-Star break.

“It’s a big one in New York,” Bellinger said when asked about how he felt about the team’s position. “But I still feel pretty good.”

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