CHICAGO – It was Mat Latos in the series opener and Bronson Arroyo on a sun-splashed Wednesday afternoon. In the end, it was just a continuation of a disturbing trend for the Chicago Cubs.
The Friendly Confines are not so friendly for the home team right now.
Chicago managed just two measly singles in a 5-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that was the fourth shutout in the last five games for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"To get shut out and get nothing going at all today, it's frustrating," manager Dale Sveum said. "It's frustrating for the guys in the clubhouse, too. They're plugging away the best they can."
The two hits matched a season low for the Cubs (52-68), who have dropped four in a row and 13 of 17 to fall a season-low 16 games under .500. They went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the series sweep by the Reds, who used a strong effort by Latos to win 2-0 on Monday night.
"A lot of guys are getting opportunities to step up and take advantage of it," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "That's something not only myself wants to do, but other guys on this team, especially guys that haven't been here all year. I think it's time we step up as a team together and start supporting our staff."
Todd Frazier hit a solo homer and a run-scoring double for Cincinnati (68-52), which has won four in a row to move a season-high 16 games over .500. The Reds also improved to 13-3 against the Cubs this year, including 9-1 at Wrigley.
Arroyo (11-9) pitched seven innings of two-hit ball in his second straight win. The crafty right-hander struck out seven and walked none.
"It's unbelievable the way he pitches," Frazier said. "I just can't understand how he does it and everybody's off balance and I know I'm going to get ground balls so I'm ready all the time and he starts striking guys out.
"It's pretty cool to watch and see a guy like that just work his craft."
The defending NL Central champions have won seven of eight since an embarrassing 15-2 home loss to St. Louis on Aug. 4.
"Sometimes a team has to hit rock bottom before you can start rolling," manager Dusty Baker said.
The Cubs wasted a solid start by Chris Rusin (2-2), who allowed two runs and three hits while throwing just 76 pitches over six innings.
"I was able to keep the ball on the ground for the most part and when the balls were hit in the air, besides Frazier's, the wind knocked it down," Rusin said.
With Chicago struggling to score against Arroyo, Sveum had Starlin Castro hit for Rusin with two out and none on in the sixth. Castro flied out to left, and Zack Cozart hit an RBI double off Carlos Villanueva in the seventh to give Cincinnati a 3-0 lead.
David DeJesus rolled a leadoff single into center field in the fourth for Chicago's first hit, but was promptly erased when Darnell McDonald bounced into a double play. McDonald singled off the glove of second baseman Brandon Phillips in the seventh and was stranded when Arroyo retired the next two batters.
Alfredo Simon worked a perfect eighth and Jonathan Broxton finished the two-hitter for Cincinnati's 13th shutout of the season.
Arroyo improved to 13-9 with a 2.92 ERA in 30 career games against the Cubs, including wins in each of his last four starts. He has been quite good at Chicago's cozy neighborhood ballpark, with an 8-3 record and a 2.83 ERA in 15 appearances.
"I've been comfortable in this ballpark for a long time for some reason, definitely the last probably seven years," he said. "It's just a lineup that a lot of times I'm comfortable against."
Frazier helped the Reds get off to a fast start when he drove Rusin's third pitch over the wall in left and onto Waveland Avenue. It was Frazier's first homer since July 1 against San Francisco and No. 11 on the year.
NOTES: Chicago has been shut out 10 times this season. ... Reds CF Shin-Soo Choo got the day off. Baker said he wanted to give him some rest, and he's also dealing with a hand issue. Baker declined to specify which hand is bothering Choo. ... RHP Jake Arrieta will come up from Triple-A Iowa to start Chicago's game against St. Louis on Friday. The move put Villanueva in the bullpen. ... Baker said he's not counting on the return of LHP Sean Marshall, who went on the disabled list May 24 with a sore pitching shoulder. "You can't expect things, that way you're going to be disappointed," Baker said, "and if you get them back, then you're elated." ... The Cubs are off Thursday before beginning a three-game series against the Cardinals. ... The Reds send LHP Tony Cingrani (5-2, 2.87 ERA) to the mound on Thursday for the opener of a four-game series at Milwaukee. RHP Kyle Lohse (8-7, 3.26 ERA) is expected to start for the Brewers.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap