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updated: 4/20/2014 7:08 PM

Cubs crawl their way to another loss

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  • Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva threw 103 pitches in 4⅔ innings Sunday as his record slipped to 1-4 with the loss to the Reds.

      Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva threw 103 pitches in 4⅔ innings Sunday as his record slipped to 1-4 with the loss to the Reds.
    Associated Press

 
 

Fans with Easter dinner plans after Sunday's Cubs game probably were left wondering if they'd make it home by Christmas.

The Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds staged a 3-hour, 50-minute tooth-puller at Wrigley Field with the Reds winning it 8-2.

By the end of this one, the gulls that either circled the ballpark or landed on the field outnumbered the human souls left in the stands.

The game featured 26 hits, 22 strikeouts, 9 walks and numerous conferences on the mound.

But whether the Cubs do things quickly or slowly, the results usually turn out the same. Sunday's defeat sent them spiraling to a record of 5-12. They've lost each of the six series they've played this season and haven't won one since the middle of last September.

Starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva contributed to the endless Easter parade. He threw 103 pitches in just 4⅔ innings as his personal record slipped to 1-4 with a 10.93 ERA.

Villanueva should be used to this kind of thing. He was a member of last year's Cubs squad that also was 5-12 after 17 games.

However, he says he's not ready to give up.

"It's been strange," he said. "It's been strange going so far, I know, for me and the team. It's April 20, too, so it does us no good hanging our heads or being negative. The numbers are there and the standings are there, but it's less than 20 (games) of 162. We've got to work on some things and come out and put a good stretch in."

That will be easier said than done with a team that lacks the talent to compete daily with most teams in the National League.

But that kind of attitude has been the hallmark of the Cubs and first-year manager Rick Renteria, who deviated from his happy approach only last Friday, when he had to admonish his team for sloppy play.

"As lopsided as that score might have been, we still had second-and-third in the ninth," Renteria said. "From the seventh to the ninth, we still ended up getting on base, swinging the bat.

"Obviously, we didn't score enough, but it wasn't like they quit. I thought we played a game that was getting away from us, but we just kept playing.

"We never stopped doing our work, trying to put ourselves in a position to come back. We had (Reds closer Jonathan) Broxton warming up in the bullpen in the ninth in a game that was … 8-2 in the end. We kept pushing. We don't want anybody to be comfortable in the end."

The Cubs fell behind 3-0 in the fourth as the Reds scored all of their runs with two outs. Cincinnati had another two-out rally in the fifth, and they put it away against beleaguered former closer Jose Veras with homers by Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart in the seventh.

On the other side, the Cubs' offense did some good things. It managed 11 hits and 6 walks. Leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio (.366) got 2 more hits, as did each player in the next three spots in the batting order. However, the Cubs were just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position, continuing another troubling trend.

"It's baseball," third baseman Mike Olt said. "There's going to be times when teams can go through certain stints like this. I think we're definitely capable of coming through in those spots. It's going to be one of those things where we need one game, two games, to get it going."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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