If the Cubs are going to accomplish all their postseason goals, they're going to have to improve at manufacturing runs.
After two days off, the Cubs regulars struggled Sunday against Wily Peralta and the Brewers, leaving 11 men on base in a 3-1 loss in front of 41,286 fans at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, the third such performance of the season.
"We hit the ball well, I thought," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We really did. This is one of those days of the culmination of the wind blowing in and their defense playing well.
"I thought we had good at-bats. ... It's just one of those days that it didn't play in our favor. But overall, you only score one run, but actually there was a lot more action offensively from us. We just could not get it to fall in the right spots."
The Cubs had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in the second, third and fifth innings and failed to cash in.
They also put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth before Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo struck out.
"The most important thing is that we're able to hit in situations better to move the baseball," Maddon said. "That's it. Play the same game we've been playing - pitching-wise, defense-wise. Overall at-bats: really good. Baserunning: outstanding.
"Against better pitching, we just have to be able to eliminate or cut down on the strikeouts where the ball needs to be moved. That's the best way I could describe it."
The Cubs didn't have any issues getting guys on base against Peralta, with nine hits - including two from pitcher Kyle Hendricks - and a walk, but the Brewers starter limited the damage.
The sole Cubs tally came when Tommy La Stella's two-out double scooted under Domingo Santana's glove in center field, scoring Javy Baez from first.
Hendricks, meanwhile, allowed four hits in the second inning, including a two-out RBI single to Peralta.
"A couple fastballs that just weren't there in that inning," Hendricks said. "I gave up a couple base hits. That was really it."
That was all the Cubs' Cy Young candidate surrendered on the day - two earned runs on six hits in six innings while striking out nine without a walk.
Chris Carter homered off Cubs reliever Felix Pena in the eighth inning to close out the scoring on the day.
The Cubs wound up winning just one game against the Brewers in a four-game series and that sole victory required a ninth-inning comeback and then a 10th-inning walkoff blast from Miguel Montero.
The Cubs have lost five of their last six games against the Brewers.
"They've been playing good baseball at least the last month-plus," Hendricks said of the Brewers. "It's good for you, though, 'cause every team that comes in here, they're gonna be coming for us. It's just always a test and we know that."
The Brewers are now 11-6 in September, playing the role of spoiler down the stretch for postseason-bound teams.
"People would be talking about the Brewers right now and a push to make the playoffs if it was the first half with the way they've played recently, so you gotta give them credit," Jason Heyward said.
"Sometimes, there's less pressure on teams and they play better when they know they're not playing with anything to lose. And that's no offense to them. Just saying: Sometimes it's easier to play that way."