It's hard to stay negative in Joe Maddon's clubhouse.

The Cubs may have dropped two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field over the weekend, but they left the stadium in style, sporting personalized Blackhawks sweaters for the trip to St. Louis.

That's just another way Maddon likes to keep things loose and fresh during the grind of a long season.

The Cubs scored just five runs in the series and have only six runs in the last four games after averaging 5.5 runs a game on a four-game winning streak from April 24-28.

Following the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Brewers Sunday, Maddon said he felt the hitters' approaches were "OK."

"We had some opportunities, but we're not stringing [hits] together," Maddon said. "We're not really driving the ball like we can. We're definitely a team with more power than that.

"It's gonna come. As these young hitters get to understand what these other pitchers are trying to do against him and get their feet on the ground a little bit more, you're going to see them all become more consistent with their power.

"In the meantime, I love the fight. We didn't get it done today, but I'll take the effort."

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While Anthony Rizzo maintains his consistent production in the middle of the Cubs' lineup, a quartet of young players around him are enduring some struggles.

 

Addison Russell is on a modest six-game hitting streak and homered in Friday's win, but struck out five times in the series and is still hitting just .211 with a .599 OPS.

Kris Bryant remains homerless in his first 15 big-league games and apart from a gift double that popped out of the glove of Milwaukee second baseman Elian Herrera, Bryant was a non-factor in the series, going 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in his other at-bats against Brewers pitchers.

Jorge Soler entered the series in the midst of a 2-for-26 stretch, but showed signs of life against Milwaukee by going 5-for-12 with a double and a walk.

Starlin Castro may be in his sixth big-league season, but he's still just 25 and constantly refining his approach at the plate. He is mired in a 2-for-15 slump that has seen his average dip from .342 all the way to .309.

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This Cubs lineup has had a lot of success already this season and Maddon isn't stressing about the lack of success lately.

He wants to keep the pressure at bay, which is how things like the Blackhawks-themed road trip can wash away the negative feelings.

"From my perspective, I've been around stuff like this before," Maddon said. "With young hitters like these, you've got to be patient, just keep trying to give them the right information, keep them kinda loose, actually.

"That's the only way to do it. You can't be uptight on the major-league level. You have to go up there with a nice approach and a plan and we do. We have all that.

"But it'll come to fruition. Just one of those moments where some guys are struggling a bit right now, but it'll come back to us."