CHICAGO -- There's no need for a team meeting or any hand-wringing. There's also no need to panic. The Cubs' offense is sputtering, and the players know it.
The Brewers beat the Cubs, 3-1, on Sunday to complete a sweep of the three-game series and trim Chicago's lead in the National League Central to two games. Milwaukee's pitchers were the stars, and the three starters -- Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies -- combined to give up one earned run over 17 innings while striking out 18.
"We aren't hitting," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We came off winning two in a row in Pittsburgh and before that, we won six in a row, and in this series, we chose not to hit. Hopefully, we'll start hitting soon."
The Cubs were offensively challenged in the first half of the season when they ranked 14th in the NL with a team batting average of .239. That number was better in the second half, thanks to a surge from Willson Contreras, who batted .311 after the All-Star break before he injured his hamstring. Since he was hurt on Aug. 11, the Cubs were collectively batting .276, but in their past eight games, they've scored 16 runs and they're batting .150 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs have won two of those eight games.
What's happened to the Cubs' offense?
"What happened? Nothing happened. Baseball happened," Chicago's Jason Heyward said.
"You go over and ask that [Brewers] clubhouse what happened when they got swept by Cincinnati -- it's the way the game goes," Heyward said. "It's baseball. I'm not saying, 'So what?' but that's part of the game. Teams will pitch well sometimes, sometimes you're not going to hit well, sometimes balls will go at people, sometimes it'll be what it is."
Maddon limits his team meetings to three a year, and the next one is tentatively scheduled before the postseason begins.
"There's nothing I can say to them that would make a difference right now," Maddon said.
Maddon has had plenty of conversations with players, preferring "one-on-one therapy as opposed to group therapy."
A few of the veteran players have called team meetings.
"It's been different people," Heyward said. "[Jon] Lester's done one, [John] Lackey's done one, [Jon] Jay's done one, I've done one. Even if we have one, it's, 'Hey, everybody speak up. Get it off your mind, put it to the group.' That's what matters is the group. I think we've done a great job to this point. We're going to keep having fun and grinding it out and pushing to go forward. It's not going to be easy.
"The name of the game is find a way to get it done," Heyward said. "Nobody's going to care at the end of the year [what the record is]. It's just, 'Are you in or not?'"
This was the first time the Cubs were swept at home since May 5-7 by the Yankees. It stings a little more to Cubs fans, because it was the rival Brewers who came out ahead. These two teams meet again at Miller Park from Sept. 21-24.
"We've been in so many different ballgames and so many different situations between this year and last year," Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. "We know what we need to do. As far as attitude, team demeanor, grinding pitch to pitch, we're doing what we can.
"Nothing needs to be said," Hendricks said. "We just have to win ballgames."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.