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Cubs lose 100th game for only third time in franchise history

Cubs batter Anthony Rizzo takes his turn bsixth inning Chicago Cubs-HoustAstros game Monday October 1 2012 Wrigley Field. | Tom

Cubs batter Anthony Rizzo takes his turn at bat in the sixth inning of the Chicago Cubs-Houston Astros game Monday October 1, 2012 at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 3, 2012 6:19AM

The question was becoming as tiring as the subject: Was it important for the Cubs to avoid losing 100 games?

“It’s important,’’ rookie first baseman Anthony Rizzo said before Monday’s game against the Houston Astros, a team that entered with 106 of its own losses. “It’s something everyone wants to shy away from. I don’t know how many teams lose 100 games in baseball. You don’t want to be part of it.’’

But Rizzo and his teammates are now members of only the third Cubs team to lose 100 after falling 3-0 to the Astros on Monday.

Only the 1962 and 1966 Cubs were in the category before Monday, each with 103 losses.

The Cubs, who have dropped 12 of their last 14 games, had only two hits, one a double by Rizzo, the other a leadoff single by David DeJesus. Adding to their pain: The Cubs were shut out for the 14th time this season.

“There are some growing pains that we’re all experiencing right now,” manager Dale Sveum said before the game. “We’re all confidence in that plan.”

Even a first-year player understands the sour taste of triple-digit losses.

But the 2012 season was supposed to be more about the future than the growing pains the team would experience in Year 1 under new team president Theo Epstein.

And Rizzo is a key piece of the Cubs’ future.

Rizzo was 21 when he made his major-league debut with the San Diego Padres last season with the requisite fanfare that went with coming from the Boston Red Sox as a can’t-miss prospect.

In 49 games, he hit only .141 with eight doubles, one triple, one homer and nine RBI. He was sent down to lick his wounds, but his mentors — Epstein and Jed Hoyer — didn’t lose faith. They moved to acquire him quickly after they came to the Cubs, sending pitcher Andrew Cashner and minor-league pitcher Zach Cates to the Padres in January.

Rizzo had to wait until June 26 for his next major-league appearance, but the second time around has been permanent.

He won rookie of the month honors in July, and after tailing off for a time in August, he rebounded in September with 21 RBI in his last 32 games while vying for rookie of the month honors again.

“After last year, bouncing back and proving a lot of doubters wrong — I’m sure there were people when I got here who said they didn’t like the trade,” Rizzo said. “It was good for me to have a good rookie season here for the guys who traded for me a couple times, and good for me, too.’’

Rizzo doubled leading the fourth, his 15th of the season to go with 15 homers and 48 RBI while hitting .289.

Joining second baseman Darwin Barney and shortstop Starlin Castro, Rizzo will be part of an infield core the team considers a foundation for the future.

“And Wellington [Castillo] behind the plate,’’ Rizzo added. “We need guys to have big years next year and beyond that.

“We have this core of players. That’s what [management] talks about, that core of players, and then bring in others. It’s about coming together.

“Every year, everyone has a goal to get better and play better. We’re young and have to get better every year and every day.’’

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