Optimistic Maddon riding out rough stretch

Cubs swept by Phillies at home, but manager likes club's energy

Optimistic Maddon riding out rough stretch

CHICAGO -- When the Cubs began their weekend series, they were in line to make the playoffs as the second National League Wild Card team. After Chicago was swept by the last-place Phillies, the Giants have jumped ahead in the Wild Card standings. Fans may be panicking, but not manager Joe Maddon.

"You win the first night here [on Friday], and all of a sudden, we're printing tickets for the playoffs," Maddon said after the Cubs lost, 11-5, to the Phillies on Sunday. "It didn't play out that way."

Instead, the Cubs blew a one-run lead in the ninth on Friday to fall, 5-3, in 10 innings, then were no-hit on Saturday by Cole Hamels. In the three-game series, Chicago was outscored, 21-8, and outhit, 40-15. The Cubs went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in three games, and they didn't have a runner in scoring position at all on Sunday.

Maddon isn't worried.

"There's a lot of energy in our clubhouse," Maddon said. "We just have to hit to our abilities. When that occurs, you'll see everything else fall into place."

The Cubs now have lost three straight at home for the second time this month -- they also did so July 8-11. Sunday was the 10th game against teams under .500 since the break, and Chicago is 4-6 in that stretch.

"You don't change your format," Maddon said. "You don't reboot and become somebody else. We've lost three games and they've lost one game since the All-Star break. They played really well. We didn't play good at all. ... I'd like to see us hit like that for two, three weeks straight."

Maddon is hoping an even keel approach will help.

"To me, [you] try to evaluate the day appropriately," Maddon said. "Don't start a bunch of fires when they're not necessary. Put this in the filing cabinet. We still have a chance for a .500 homestand."

Cubs starter Jason Hammel said the young players on the roster are learning what a grind the season can be.

"We're almost into August and bodies are weak and minds are fatigued, and you have to find a way to get through it," Hammel said. "We'll battle our way to the end."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.