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Cardinals 7, Cubs 2: Ugh

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The Cubs got swept for the first time this season.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Let's put it this way. If you have just watched the worst game of the Cubs' 2016 season, this season will likely end pretty well.

The Cubs played poorly in pretty much all aspects of Wednesday's series finale against the Cardinals. It was almost as if they'd swapped places with their 2012 counterparts for the afternoon; they were never really in the 7-2 loss to the Cardinals, which also provided the visitors with their first Wrigley Field three-game sweep in 28 years.

If you're going to ledge-jump after this defeat or be negative, you're coming to the wrong place. This kind of thing happens to even the best teams, all the time. Some good things did come out of this loss, and I'll get to those, but first a brief recap of the carnage.

Jake Arrieta threw pretty well for four innings, but as has been the case for many of his recent starts, he ran into long at-bats for many Cardinals hitters. Give them credit as they fouled off quite a few Jake offerings and ran up his pitch count, to the point where he was at 87 pitches after just four innings. Even so, the game was still scoreless after four, thanks in part to this leaping grab [VIDEO] by Matt Szczur in center field.

The Cubs had their chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Chris Coghlan became the first Cubs baserunner of the game with a leadoff walk. Unfortunately, Brandon Moss made a running catch on a line drive to left by Jason Heyward, and Coghlan was running on the play. He was past second base at the time the ball was caught and was easily doubled off first.

That was too bad because Kris Bryant then walked and Anthony Rizzo singled. That would have produced at least one run. Instead, a groundout ended the threat.

Then the wheels fell off in the fifth. With one out, two walks and a single loaded the bases against Jake. Stephen Piscotty hit what could have been an inning-ending double play ball to Bryant, who got the first out. Ben Zobrist's relay to first was in the dirt and Rizzo couldn't handle it [VIDEO], allowing two runs to score.

By then Jake was at 109 pitches and had to be lifted for Justin Grimm for the sixth. Grimm was bad. He gave up a leadoff double, wild-pitched the runner to third, and then Yadier Molina grounded to third:

Miguel Montero was injured on the play and left the game. It was reported his right knee was being examined, but apparently he'll be OK:

I'll question Bryant's judgment on that one. It appeared to be a contact play, and he probably should have taken the out at first. It would have taken a perfect throw to get Moss, and the throw came in high.

Two batters later Matt Carpenter drove in a pair of runs with a double, and that ended Grimm's afternoon. Carl Edwards Jr. entered and promptly put things out of reach by serving up a two-run homer to Aledmys Diaz, making it 7-0 and sending some of the crowd heading home on a day when storms were forecast for later in the day.

That's when the few good things to come out of this stinker started to happen. After the homer, Edwards settled down and retired six of the next seven hitters to complete his appearance. He touched 96 on the Wrigley pitch-speed meter.

Meanwhile, Willson Contreras, who replaced Montero, gave the Cubs their only scoring of the day, and the only time the Wrigley throng was able to cheer, with a two-run homer in the seventh after Addison Russell doubled. Russell had come into the game in that inning, with Bryant moving to first replacing Rizzo:

Doesn't sound like anything too serious, likely just precautionary down 7-0 in the seventh inning. Also, here's a fun little not on Contreras' homer:

Then Spencer Patton made his first appearance since his recall and shut the Cardinals down quite well for two innings, striking out three with one walk. As was the case for Hector Rondon the other day, Patton had his first professional plate appearance, waggling his bat like Hector did. Is this a Cubs bullpen pitcher thing? Patton had a decent at-bat before grounding out.

With dark clouds gathering over Wrigley in the ninth (though it never did rain), Mike Matheny decided to stretch things out even longer by replacing lefthander Tyler Lyons with righthander Jonathan Broxton. This was with one out and nobody on and a five-run lead. I mean... sure, platoon advantage means something, but slavishly following it in a situation like that? What's the point?

We've become accustomed to so much winning and excellent baseball this year that it's tough to take one like this. But the ups and downs of a 162-game season almost mandate that games like this are going to happen, even to very, very good teams. The three-game losing streak is the Cubs' second of the year. Two times, three straight losses... in 70 games. That's just not a lot. All the Cubs can do is pick up the pieces and start winning road games, as they've done quite well this year -- 22-12, and it should be noted that the Cardinals have been a good road team this year as well, now 23-12 away from Busch Stadium.

The Cubs' 10-game road trip begins Thursday night in Miami against the Marlins. Jon Lester will face Wei-Yin Chen.