With 8-5 loss, Reds welcome Cubs into last place

There are officially two teams in the NL Central whose rebuilds are going better than the Cubs.

Pittsburgh for one, and now also the Cincinnati Reds, who pushed the Cubs into last place in the division with Saturday's 8-5 victory at Wrigley Field.

Maybe a higher draft pick is what the Cubs need right now. The Reds had a few of their former first-rounders in the lineup and knocked out 12 hits, including a pair of 2-run homers by Jonathan India, who went No. 5 overall in 2018.

It's worth pointing out that the Reds rank 25th in MLB payroll this season, while the Pirates are 28th.

The Cubs dropped to 3-10 in their last 13 games and 0-8 in games Jameson Taillon starts, although the free agent addition was better Saturday than he has been.

"I thought that was probably a closer version to myself and where I need to be and where I should expect to be moving forward," Taillon said. "Not so much results-wise, but just like pitch-package stuff, conviction, aggression, in the strike zone."

Taillon's pitch mix has been interesting to follow, because during the previous four seasons, he used his four-seam fastball most often. In 2021, he threw it nearly 50% of the time and drew an opponent batting average of .199.

This season, he's thrown the cutter most often, according to Statcast. But he went majority fastball on Saturday. He was asked if he tried to change his approach this season, since it's natural to share ideas and suggestions with a new coaching staff.

"We ended spring training on a really good high note," Taillon said. "I thought I threw the ball well in the spring, I wasn't walking anybody, I thought I was on a pretty good page with the catchers and stuff. One of those things, a couple bad games, things snowballed a little bit, had a (groin) injury. It was time to just refocus everything.

"I put it more on me. At this point in my career, I should have had a better grasp of who I am and what I do well and where I need to be mechanically. I think we've identified the problems and I think we have kind of a good idea of where we need to be going forward."

The game started off promising for the Cubs. Dansby Swanson tripled in the first inning and scored on an Ian Happ double. Then Swanson singled home 2 runs in the third and the Cubs led 4-1.

Leading 4-2 in the fifth, Taillon retired the first two Reds batters, then gave up a walk, stolen base and RBI single. He got the hook and left the mound with a 4-3 lead, but reliever Michael Fulmer's second pitch was sent into the right field basket by Jonathan India and Cincinnati quickly took a 5-4 lead.

India homered again off Jeremiah Estrada in the seventh inning to boost the Reds' lead to 8-4. At the end of the night, Taillon's ERA was 8.04, Fulmer's was 7.84 and the Cubs are again searching for answers.

"Trying everything right now with the group of guys, a lot of innings to cover there," manager David Ross said of Fulmer and the bullpen. "That was Jamo's longest outing since he's been back (from the injured list)."

As is typical of the Cubs this season, no one was in much of a mood to address the losing trend.

"This would be a really fun group to win with, to accomplish great things with, but we need to start piling up some Ws." Taillon said. "Everyone's showing up still with a good attitude, ready to work. It's been a fun group to be around."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Cubs' Patrick Wisdom, right, slaps hands with first base coach Mike Napoli after hitting a single during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds, Saturday. Associated Press
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