Cubs

With Brewers and Cardinals next, Cubs miss chance to sweep Pirates

Manager Joe Maddon wasn’t ready to give the Cubs’ upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and St. Louis too much extra significance.

But he did sound like he was looking forward to those matchups.

“Love it. This is the thing that you’ve really got to love, when you’re playing the teams within your division,” Maddon said after the Cubs lost 7-1 to the Pirates, missing the chance to sweep the series and take over first place in the National League Central. “Good teams within your division that are one right behind, one right in front of us. It’s good stuff.”

Of course, it’s natural to think about the Brewers and Cardinals and what those games could mean for the pennant race. The Brewers enter the series a half-game ahead of the Cubs for the division lead and look like a potential threat to contend all season.

Fog envelops Wrigley Field during the fourth inning of Sunday's Cubs-Pirates game at Wrigley Field. | Getty Images

“It’s going to be a fun series,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It’ll be loud and exciting. We’ll be ready.”

Maddon, despite being eager for the upcoming week, warned against getting “caught in the macro moment.”

“I think the best way to approach when you’re playing really good teams within your division is to not get too farsighted,” Maddon said. “This is the micro time, man. It’s about Monday. Then it will be about Tuesday. Then it will be about Wednesday.”

After a run of good days and complete performances, Sunday wasn’t the Cubs’ best game.

Trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning, Tommy La Stella pinch-hit for Kyle Hendricks with two on and nobody out. La Stella grounded into a double play, and the Cubs didn’t score. The Pirates took advantage of Hendricks’ absence in the sixth, scoring five times against Brian Duensing and Luke Farrell to take a 6-0 lead. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova allowed one run in 5‰ innings.

The Cubs scored a total of six runs in the series.

Even with the loss, the Cubs have won eight of 10 and are 12 games above .500. And Maddon used a familiar metaphor to say how pleased he was with the weekend despite the loss.

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“Meat loaf tastes good. Meat loaf is awesome. Actually, that’s going to be one of the forthcoming paintings,” Maddon said. “It’s going to be revolving around [the singer] Meat Loaf, where ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.’ Anybody who’s not into two out of three needs to re-evaluate their baseball sensibilities.”

The Cubs gladly would take two out of three in both Milwaukee and St. Louis this week. The Cubs have owned the Brewers this season, winning seven of eight. Hendricks wasn’t sure that would be a factor.

“Maybe that they might be coming for us a little harder. They know the outcomes of this season so far,” he said. “But again, being in our division, regardless of what’s happened, it’s going to be thrilling, competitive [games] no matter what. We know we’re going to get their best, and we’ve just got to go up there and keep playing good baseball.”