Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd slips while chasing a pop fly by Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto's during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, in Chicago. Byrd was unable to make the catch and Votto reached second on the hit. The Reds won 8-7. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:23AM
Winning streaks do amazing things for the psyche of a team.
When the pitchers pitch well and the hitters hit — add in some good defense, too — the suggestion that these same Cubs could be headed to a successful 2012 creeps into conversations.
‘‘I dodge that question all the time,’’ manager Mike Quade said, ever loyal to his troops, who saw their seven-game winning streak end Sunday in an 8-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. ‘‘It’s way too early for me to be concerned with that.
‘‘There’s plenty of reasons to be excited, but you still want to put together more than a seven-game streak. You want to play five or six months of good baseball. But I couldn’t be happier with what I’m seeing and how the guys are playing.’’
Even in a loss, there were a host of good things from the Cubs, who came back from two deficits and had a 7-6 lead going into the eighth inning. But a rushing Marlon Byrd slipped on the grass on Joey Votto’s fly ball that fell for a double. Sean Marshall (5-5) struck out Jay Bruce, but Todd Frazier doubled in Votto, and Frazier scored on Ryan Hanigan’s single.
‘‘One play turned the game around,’’ a frustrated Byrd said.
Byrd had a pop fly to center in the third inning fall for an RBI double after Drew Stubbs lost it in the sun. He also hit a ball down the left-field line in the seventh that stuck in the corner vines for a ground-rule double, allowing Starlin Castro to score from third but not Aramis Ramirez from first.
Ramirez scored when reliever Nick Masset (2-5) threw a wild pitch with Geovany Soto batting. Soto eventually struck out, stranding Byrd at third and Blake DeWitt at second and ending the Cubs’ last scoring threat.
‘‘It hurts,’’ said Byrd, who called off Castro on Votto’s fly. ‘‘One inning completely changed everything. It would have been one out, and you’d have Marshall striking out Bruce. But they came up with the big hit. It didn’t happen for us, but I liked the way we battled the whole game.’’
Starter Randy Wells was battling his own rough innings. The Reds had three home runs among their eight hits off him. But Wells got through seven innings, giving up six runs, and was in line for a victory in his longest outing of the season.
‘‘I knew kind of early it would be one of those [Wrigley Field] days,’’ Wells said. ‘‘All in all, I felt good and thought I made some pretty good pitches. I’m really happy with how I finished [he retired the last eight he faced], and the offense and defense really picked me up. Obviously, it would’ve been great for the team to come back with the win, but we fought back.
‘‘We’re playing really well, pitching good, and the offense has been great. It’s been fun to be around. I would have liked to keep the streak alive. We just came up a little short.’’
For all the disappointment, there were plenty of highlights that kept this game out of the demoralizing category, including another two-hit game for Castro — including his fifth home run. Castro has scored in nine consecutive games and has an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .486 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBI.
But the more rousing highlight was Tony Campana’s slide into second base in the seventh that upended Paul Janish and prevented a double play. Campana was roundly cheered by the crowd of 39,619 and regaled by his teammates when he returned to the dugout.
‘‘His slide was huge,’’ Wells said because it kept the eventual three-run inning alive. ‘‘And then Marlon with the big hit. It’s what we’ve been looking for.’’
A victory would’ve given the Cubs their first back-to-back series sweeps at home since 2008.
‘‘We ain’t packing it in,’’ Quade said. ‘‘It’s just tough to lose [a game] like that.’’