Observations: Cubs fall further back of Brewers with loss to Reds

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Observations: Cubs fall further back with 7th straight loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs lost 2-1 to the Reds Friday night, their seventh straight loss, dropping to 42-40 this season.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. The Cubs lineup got a Bryzzo-sized boost Friday with the returns of Kris Bryant (right side soreness) and Anthony Rizzo (back tightness). Bryant missed the last two games and Rizzo the entire Brewers series.

"It's just annoying," Rizzo said of the back, which has sidelined him twice this season. "We've got a good grip on it now. Just continue to stay on top of it, like we have, and continue to put my body in a good position to be able to play everyday.

"I feel really good right now. I hopefully plan on staying this way."

2. Bryant started July off strong after a down June in which he hit .114/.205/.241. Friday, he went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles — his first multi-hit game since May 31.

3. Bryant’s baserunning has always been an exceptional part of his game, and Friday provided the latest example. He scored from first on a double by Jason Heyward in the fourth, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

4. Alec Mills mowed the Reds down for 5 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk with nine strikeouts — tied for his career high.

"I thought he had a phenomenal night," David Ross said.

Mills attributed his success to improved fastball location and a good changeup, a third pitch the Reds had to respect.

"I know the bullpen really has been taxed lately," he said. "I just wanted to go out and give us some length and give us a chance to win."

5. But Mills caught a tough break. A two-out single by Nick Castellanos in the sixth ended his night, following a walk earlier in the inning, and both runners came around to score. Joey Votto hit a two-run double off reliever Adam Morgan.

6. Outside of that single, the Cubs shut down Castellanos and Jesse Winker, the Reds' two outfielders recently named starters in the All-Star Game. The pair went a combined 1-for-8.

7. Jonathan India dropped a foul pop fly in the seventh, giving Willson Contreras another chance with the tying run on first and two outs. Eugenio Suarez retired Contreras with a nice play on a groundball to third base, however.

8. The Cubs had runners on base every inning but the first and eighth. They stranded eight and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

9. A few players had some words for home plate umpire Jim Wolf, including Joc Pederson in the third and Tucker Barnhart in the seventh. Both left-handed hitters were rung up on pitches on the inside part of home plate.

10. The Cubs have lost 7 1/2 games in the NL Central standings since last Thursday, when they were tied with the Brewers. Milwaukee beat the Pirates Friday night.

"We're in a skid and it's not fun. Losing sucks," Rizzo said. "We've got to come in [Saturday] and be ready to play."

On deck: First pitch Saturday at 3:10 p.m. Adbert Alzolay (4-7, 4.55) and Tyler Mahle (7-3, 3.74) are the Cubs and Reds probable starters.

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