CHICAGO (AP) — The bullpen flopped, the offense disappeared late and the Chicago Cubs again couldn’t escape their worst funk this season.
Tucker Barnhart hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Trevor Cahill in the seventh inning, and the Cincinnati Reds beat Chicago 5-3 Wednesday — the Cubs’ 12th loss in 17 games.
A day after having seven players selected for next week’s All-Star Game, the Cubs lost to the last-place Reds for the second time in three days and dropped below Texas for the best record in the major leagues.
“I can’t connect a bunch of negative dots. It just happened,” said manager Joe Maddon, who believes this poor stretch is more a “snapshot” than a sign of bigger problems.
“I’m not really that concerned,” he said.
Still, the Cubs had been atop the majors since April. Shortstop Addison Russell, part of the entire infield voted in as NL starters, couldn’t explain how they’ve lost their form.
“The past few weeks it hasn’t been working,” Russell said, “but we still have high hopes and high faith.”
Chicago led 3-1 when Brandon Phillips and Jose Peraza hit consecutive one-out singles against Cahill (1-3) and Barnhart sent a 2-2 sinker into the basket in center field for his third home run this year.
“It brought everyone to life, I can tell you that,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Zack Cozart homered for the third straight game, starting Cincinnati’s offense with his eighth career leadoff homer. The Reds’ lone All-Star, Adam Duvall, walked and scored on Carl Edwards Jr.’s wild pitch in the eighth.
Anthony DeSclafani (3-0) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out six and walked none. Michael Lorenzen pitched two hitless innings, and Tony Cingrani got three straight outs for his 10th save in 15 chances.
The Reds improved to 3-10 against their division rivals.
“We should be more competitive against everybody, I think, once we get our pitching into good shape,” Price said. “I think we’re closer.”
Adam Warren was called up from Triple-A Iowa to give the Chicago rotation extra rest with a spot start, and he allowed three hits in five innings, retiring his final 11 batters.
Russell hit an RBI double in the second and scored on Miguel Montero’s single, and Ben Zobrist’s fifth-inning homer gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
But the Cubs didn’t have a hit after the fifth inning. They’re 1-5 in their last six home games after starting 25-8 at Wrigley Field.
“Listen, the big thing we need to do better in the latter part of the game is scoring runs,” Maddon said. “If it’s close, we’re behind or it’s tied we’re just not doing a really good job of finishing off games offensively.”
Reds: RF Jay Bruce, left off the All-Star team, didn’t start to rest assorted aches and pains. He pinch hit in the ninth and walked before being thrown out trying to steal second. “He’s just beat up right now,” manager Bryan Price said. Bruce took his All-Star snub in stride. “I’m not the first guy to be left off and I’m not going to be the last,” he said.
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler’s first All-Star Game is uncertain as he recovers from a strained right hamstring. Manager Joe Maddon said the team will decide in the next few days whether Fowler is ready for a minor league rehab assignment. … C David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list after taking a foul ball off his mask Tuesday. While with Boston, he missed much of 2013 after taking foul balls off the mask that May 11 and June 14. … Tommy La Stella (hamstring) was activated off the DL, started at third and went 1 for 4.
Cincinnati stole four bases, two by Peraza. He is 12 for 12 in steal attempts, including 9 for 9 this season.
WOODROW WILSON STYLE
The teams wore baggy throwback uniforms with high socks to commemorate 100 years at Wrigley Field. The Cubs and Reds played the first game at what was then Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916.
Reds: After an off day in Miami, RHP Dan Straily (4-5, 4.34 ERA) starts Friday night against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez (10-4, 2.69).
Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel (7-5, 3.45) is to face Atlanta LHP Lucas Harrell (1-0, 1.50) Thursday night at Wrigley Field in the makeup of an April 30 rainout.