Cubs at loss after pen squanders road leads again

MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Cubs say they are in disbelief as losses continue to mount on the road, many coming in late-inning, heartbreaking fashion.

The latest? Saturday's 5-3, 10-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, which dropped them into a second-place tie with their National League Central rivals.

"I've never seen anything like this," reliever Steve Cishek said. "I have no answers. I really don't."

Cishek blew a 2-0 eighth-inning lead Saturday night. The Cubs retook the lead in the 10th inning on an Albert Almora Jr. home run. But hot-hitting Brewers Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura both went deep off Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 10th, sending Chicago to 19-31 away from Wrigley Field this season.

"It's disappointing," Kimbrel said. "We need to win games like that. It sucks."

The Cubs are 1-4 on their current road trip, and in each loss, they were leading or tied in the eighth inning or later.

It has led to some ugly moments:

Their eight blown saves in July is tied for the most in baseball.

On Saturday, they blew multiple save opportunities in the same game for the second time this season. Only the Mets have done that more.

In 542 appearances before this season, Kimbrel had given up multiple home runs in the same outing just only once. In 12 games as a Cub, he has done it twice already.

The meltdown Saturday came after starter Jon Lester asked out after seven innings due to an illness that led to him being scratched from a start earlier in the week. He was pitching a gem against Milwaukee but said he was "gassed."

"Not too many times I go up to Joe [Maddon] or Tommy [Hottovy, pitching coach] ... but tonight was one of them," he said. "Tonight was very tough. I felt like we were in pretty good control of that game. That's how quick things can turn around here."

Maddon went to Cishek despite the right-hander throwing 26 pitches over two innings in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Brewers. He was greeted with a home run by Ben Gamel and a double by Lorenzo Cain on the next pitch.

Was he gassed, too? Maddon didn't think so.

"Cishek was ready to go today," the Cubs manager said.

The Cubs are 5-11 in one-run affairs away from Wrigley this season. There are many questions but no answers right now for the disparity between their stellar 36-18 mark at home and the results on the road.

"It's tough to be on this end," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "Seems like when it doesn't go your way it pours on you at different times of the season. This is one of those stretches. We just have to keep fighting.

"It's strange. It's something this era of Cubs baseball hasn't experienced. It should even out [on the road]. Not to where we want it. This year it hasn't, but we can start writing our own script tomorrow."

The Cubs and Brewers are a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the Central. The Cubs head to St. Louis after Sunday's series finale. With a 4-14 road record within the division, the Cubs are desperate for a victory.

"You see the division," Cishek said. "It's close all the way through. We just have to think of it as a rough stretch."

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