CHICAGO – Edwin Jackson continues to search for his first victory of the season after seven starts.
The veteran right-hander struggled again Sunday, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings in the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Jackson (0-5) allowed three runs and four hits in the fourth and has yet to pitch past the sixth inning this season.
“I couldn’t avoid the big inning,” Jackson said. “The third inning, they strung together a few hits. I felt like for the most part we were attacking the hitters at a pretty good pace.”
Joey Votto had three hits, Todd Frazier hit a two-run single and the Reds completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs.
The Cubs rallied for three runs off Mat Latos to make it a one-run game in the fifth inning, helped when Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and second baseman Brandon Phillips collided trying to catch Alfonso Soriano’s short fly.
Latos (3-0) extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings, tying a career high, but didn’t pitch past the fifth inning for the first time in seven starts this season. He struck out six and walked three. Reds manager Dusty Baker said Latos pitched despite feeling sick.
J.J. Hoover earned his second save.
The Reds got a scare in the fifth when Choo and Phillips ran into each other. The ball deflected off Phillips’ glove and hit Choo in the face. Trainers checked both players.
“It looked really ugly there,” Baker said. “This wind plays havoc with the ball. I saw Choo break back and I knew that we were in trouble. I’m just glad we held on.”
Choo stayed in the game. Phillips exited in the eighth inning. Baker said Phillips had trouble seeing when he hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Phillips said he expects to play Monday.
Two runs scored on Soriano’s double in the fifth, ending Latos’ scoreless streak. Nate Schierholtz followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Reds got two more in the seventh. Votto’s second double drove in one, and Phillips had a sacrifice fly off Cubs reliever Shawn Camp.
The Cubs lost their fourth straight and fell to 9-17 in games decided by three runs or less.
“We’re obviously going through a tough stretch right now,” Camp said. “Realistically, two guys are pitching well down there (Kevin) Gregg and (James) Russell. We’ve got to pick it up a little bit. It can get ugly real fast. It’s May. It’s time for us to step up.”
The Cubs cut the lead to 6-4 in the seventh when David DeJesus scored on a groundout, but the Reds added another in the eighth.
Jay Bruce hit an RBI double off Jackson in the fourth and the Reds extended the lead to 3-0 on Frazier’s two-run single.
“He got some ground balls. He’s a little stymied right now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said about Jackson. “His groundballs seem to go through every hole.”
Jackson said he had a different mindset Sunday and tried to challenge hitters. He remained optimistic. Jackson allowed a season-high eight runs in 4 2-3 innings in his last outing, a 13-7 loss to the San Diego Padres. He was 10-11 with the Washington Nationals last season.
“I feel like if I can go out and feel the way I did today, more times than not, the results would be the opposite of what they were today,” Jackson said.
The Cubs brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth with no outs after Scott Hairston reached on a single and advanced to third on Hoover’s throwing error to second when DeJesus hit a chopper to the mound.
Hoover got three flyouts to end the game.
The Cubs also were unable to score with the bases loaded in the fourth.
“It’s not fun coming up in big situations and not coming through,” said Darwin Barney, who flew out to end the inning.
Notes: Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said struggling reliever Carlos Marmol’s main issues are his tempo and concentration. Marmol walked two, hit a batter and allowed three runs without recording an out in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Reds. Marmol has two saves in four opportunities and an ERA of 5.68. He pitched a perfect sixth Sunday. “Where Carlos gets in trouble along with the other guys is going too fast, and yesterday was a classic case of that,” Bosio said. “He’s got to slow it down and visualize the pitch and execute the pitch.” ... C Welington Castillo was out of the lineup Sunday after he was hit by a pitch on the ankle Saturday. Sveum said Castillo is OK. ... The Cubs will be hosting three teams in three days for the first time since Aug. 21-23, 1960. The Cubs host the Texas Rangers on Monday in a makeup of their rained-out game on April 17. The Cubs begin a series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. ... RHP Scott Feldman will start for the Cubs against the Rangers on Monday. RHP Bronson Arroyo will start for the Reds in their series opener against the Atlanta Braves on Monday.