CHICAGO (AP) — Ron Roenicke hoped the return of Matt Garza would put the Brewers back on the right track.
Instead, Milwaukee's manager was left searching for answers after his team fell 6-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night to lose its season-high eighth straight.
"I don't understand it," Roenick said. "We haven't pitched well. We haven't played good defense. . We haven't been swinging the bat well either."
The Brewers held a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central on Aug. 19, but since then they have lost 11 of 13 to fall three behind the St. Louis Cardinals. They remain a half-game ahead of Atlanta for the second wild card spot.
Milwaukee took an early lead in the second, when Khris Davis hit the first of his three singles, advanced on a groundout and scored on Logan Schafer's two-out base hit.
It was all downhill from there as Garza (7-8) failed to get past the third inning in his first start in 31 days. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits and one walk. He had been on the disabled list since Aug. 4 because of a strained left oblique.
After a two-run home run by Chris Valaika in the second, the Cubs batted around in the third when they scored four times to take a 6-1 lead thanks to a number of flyballs that fell in for hits.
"They found holes and they just keep finding them," Garza said.
Luis Valbuena singled and advanced on an error after his fly ball fell between three Brewers in left to put runners on first and second with one away. Rookie Jorge Soler then had a two-run double. Welington Castillo followed with a run-scoring, ground-rule double, and one out later, Logan Watkins hit an RBI single to cap the rally.
"That's incredible that you can drop that many balls in and not screw up anything," Roenicke said.
Kyle Hendricks pitched five-plus innings to hear his fifth straight win. Hendricks (6-1) allowed two runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander did not walk or strike out a batter.
"Tonight they got a lot of hits off me because I didn't have my (best) stuff," Hendricks said.
Milwaukee, who was without Ryan Braun because of the expected birth of his first child, has been outscored 55-16 during their slide, the longest losing streak for the team since it lost 9 straight in May 2010.
"We're still not getting that big hit that we have to have to get back in games," said Roenicke, whose team was swept at Wrigley for the first time since Aug. 23-25, 2004.