It's one thing to play to the level of your competition.
The Cubs on Friday looked like they were playing to the elements at Wrigley Field: dreary, dark, lackluster and cold.
As for the Cincinnati Reds, they had no trouble with the elements or the hapless Cubs, beating them 9-4 and pounding out 12 hits on a day when the windchill factor was 35 degrees.
The loss was the Cubs' sixth in a row, and it dropped them to 3-11.
Manager Dale Sveum was one of only a few people to see any silver linings amid the dark clouds.
"It's no fun," Sveum said. "I thought we played pretty well. That was about as best as we've swung the bat all year. We hit the heck out of the ball all day and didn't get (anything) to show for it."
The Cubs were outhit 12-5 and made 3 errors in the field. Their starting pitcher, Chris Volstad threw 40 pitches in the first inning, and his record fell to 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA. The Cubs have not hit a home run in a week, and they have only 5 for the season.
Neither Sveum nor the Cubs say they see anybody getting down.
"I don't know if you ever get down if you're swinging the bat good and you're not getting (anything) for it," he said. "You know you're swinging the bat good and having good at-bats and putting a good swing on the ball.
"I think it's more important that they understand that once the weather firms up or you get somewhere else -- a little better hitter's park than what we've been dealing with -- a lot of those things will turn out for the better."
Volstad struck out the first batter he faced in the game, but the Reds wound up batting around and scoring 4 runs on 4 hits. The Cubs committed 2 errors in the first inning, and Volstad walked two.
"Kind of the same pattern as the last game," he said of a 5-1 loss at St. Louis. "I just need to make better pitches when things start going like that. I don't know what it is. I just got to focus a little more, I think. I had half my pitch count in the first inning."
Volstad settled down and lasted 5 innings. Like his manager, he said nobody is getting discouraged.
"It's a little frustrating," he said. "Guys aren't getting down as far as that. Everybody every day is coming in with a positive attitude to start the day off. We're not a team that's ever going to do that or get down on ourselves or quit or back down from anybody. Knowing the kind of talent we have, we haven't shown it yet."
On the offensive side of the ball, Bryan LaHair had 2 hits, an RBI single and a double. But players such as Marlon Byrd (0-for-3, .070) and Geovany Soto (0-for-4, .150) continued slumping.
"We're the kind of team that's going to continue to play hard and continue to fight and move on to the next game," LaHair said. "As long as we stay focused on each day, hopefully things turn around."
Maybe when the weather changes.