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Cubs lose another series as Reds provide lesson in situational hitting

CHICAGO IL - APRIL 20:  BrandPhillips #4 Cincinnati Reds forces out Mike Olt #30 Chicago Cubs during seventh inning

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 20: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds forces out Mike Olt #30 of the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning on April 20, 2014 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 20, 2014 10:51PM



Cubs fans got to see all the things a team needs to do to win Sunday at Wrigley Field.

It wasn’t surprising that it came from the Reds. But in a season spiraling downward, it had to have been nice to watch a team play some situational baseball, even if it was a fourth-place team.

Heck, grabbing hold of fourth-place even seems too far a climb for these Cubs.

In dropping the rubber match of the series 8-2, the Cubs watched the Reds score all but one of their runs with two outs.

The Reds hit .400 with runners in scoring position, the Cubs .200. It’s no surprise the Cubs have failed to win a series all year.

We’ll stop before “Clark the Cub” is shamed into burying his face in his claws. Even he probably whiffed swinging at a beehive Sunday.

“That’s what wins ballgames right there,” third baseman Mike Olt said. “Two-out hitting and doing the little things right, getting guys over. Once we can start doing that, [we’ll win]. We’ve had games that we’ve done that, and we’ve won. So we’ve just got to continue to grind, and we’ll figure it out.

“There’s going to be times where teams go through certain stints like this, and I think we have people capable of definitely coming through in those spots.”

The lesson lasted a painful three hours, 50 minutes, and starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva lasted only 42/3 innings. He appears destined for the bullpen after giving up five runs with two outs, despite striking out a season-high seven.

“Just one pitch away those two innings,” Villanueva said of the fourth and fifth innings, in which the Reds combined for five runs. “Two outs, you’ve got to be able to [get the third].”

That’s another one of those things that good teams do.

There didn’t seem to be too much panic in the Cubs’ clubhouse. With 145 games left, consistency in the areas the Reds excelled are still being refined on the North Side.

And it appeared as if the frustration of a weeklong struggle to score runs affected some at-bats and caused some anxiousness.

“Maybe we pressed a little bit, especially with runners in scoring position,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And those are works in progress. Even guys that have been here already for years are still having to learn how to take the emotional aspect out of the equation when you’re hitting.

“Because the pitcher’s in danger, he’s the one that’s in trouble, and you’ve got to be able to go ahead and slow everything down.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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