CHICAGO (AP) — Ron Roenicke hoped the return of Matt Garza would put the Brewers back on the right track.
Instead, Milwaukee’s manager was left searching for answers after his team fell 6-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night to lose its season-high eighth straight.
“I don’t understand it,” Roenicke said. “We haven’t pitched well. We haven’t played good defense. . We haven’t been swinging the bat well either.”
The Brewers held a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central on Aug. 19, but since then they have lost 11 of 13 to fall three behind the St. Louis Cardinals. They remain a half-game ahead of Atlanta for the second wild card spot.
Milwaukee took an early lead in the second, when Khris Davis hit the first of his three singles, advanced on a groundout and scored on Logan Schafer’s two-out base hit.
It was all downhill from there as Garza (7-8) failed to get past the third inning in his first start in 31 days. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits and one walk. He had been on the disabled list since Aug. 4 because of a strained left oblique.
After a two-run home run by Chris Valaika in the second, the Cubs batted around in the third when they scored four times to take a 6-1 lead thanks to a number of flyballs that fell in for hits.
“They found holes and they just keep finding them,” Garza said.
Luis Valbuena singled and advanced on an error after his fly ball fell between three Brewers in left to put runners on first and second with one away. Rookie Jorge Soler then had a two-run double. Welington Castillo followed with a run-scoring, ground-rule double, and one out later, Logan Watkins hit an RBI single to cap the rally.
“That’s incredible that you can drop that many balls in and not screw up anything,” Roenicke said.
Kyle Hendricks pitched five-plus innings to hear his fifth straight win. Hendricks (6-1) allowed two runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander did not walk or strike out a batter.
“Tonight they got a lot of hits off me because I didn’t have my (best) stuff,” Hendricks said.
Milwaukee, who was without Ryan Braun because of the expected birth of his first child, has been outscored 55-16 during their slide, the longest losing streak for the team since it lost 9 straight in May 2010.
“We’re still not getting that big hit that we have to have to get back in games,” said Roenicke, whose team was swept at Wrigley for the first time since Aug. 23-25, 2004.
The Brewers scored their final run on Valaika’s error at first base in the sixth.
Milwaukee was missing Ryan Braun, who was with his wife Larisa in Milwaukee, where she was expecting their first child.
Brewers: OF Carlos Gomez will not take part in physical activity until Sunday at the earliest. He sat out his third straight game because of a sprained left wrist and could be out of action until until mid-September. INF Mark Reynolds and Jason Rogers were available to play in the outfield if necessary.
Cubs: Results of X-rays and an MRI revealed SS Starlin Castro suffered a high ankle sprain on a slide into home during a 7-1 win against the Brewers on Tuesday night. General manager Jed Hoyer said Castro hoped to beat the 4-week prognosis to return but his season was likely over. … 1B Anthony Rizzo remains out indefinitely with a strained lower back. … 3b Mike Olt began a two-game rehab assignment with Class-A Kane County on Wednesday night. … OF Ryan Sweeney (strained left hamstring) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, which effectively ended his season. The contract of OF Ryan Kalish was selected from the Triple-A club.
The Brewers return home to meet St. Louis in a crucial four-game series. RHP Wily Peralta (15-9, 3.82) and Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (5-5, 2.79) are the scheduled starters Thursday night. After an open date, the Cubs will send LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2, 2.79) to the mound against Pittsburgh RHP Vance Worley (6-4, 3.01) in the first game of a three-game set on Friday afternoon.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The Cubs improved to 22-15 since July 18. At the start of the day, they owned the best record in the division and the seventh-best mark in the majors in that span.
BREWERS MOURN SEID
A moment of silence was observed before the game in honor of Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid, 53, who passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. He had been with the organization for 17 years.