Ten straight games against last-place clubs were supposed to provide the Chicago Cubs with a prime opportunity to bolster their chances of reaching the postseason.
Getting swept by the worst team in baseball wasn't an ideal way to begin that stretch.
Now the Colorado Rockies enter a three-game series at Wrigley Field coming off their best offensive performance of the season as Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the Cubs on Monday night.
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The Cubs (51-46) have aspirations of making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and could be major players in the trade market leading up to Friday's non-waiver deadline. They got a close look at rumored target Cole Hamels on Saturday as the left-hander struck out 13 in a no-hitter to beat the Cubs 5-0.
Philadelphia, which has an MLB-worst 37 wins, also won 5-3 in 10 innings Friday and 11-5 on Sunday, dealing the Cubs their ninth defeat in 14 games. Chicago is now 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL's second wild card.
"You don't change your format. You don't reboot and become somebody else," manager Joe Maddon said. "We didn't play up to our standards."
The Cubs will travel to Milwaukee for four games after this series with the Rockies (42-54), but facing those cellar dwellers might not provide any relief unless All-Stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo start hitting again.
Bryant is 6 for 50 with one homer and 23 strikeouts over his last 13 games and Rizzo is 3 for 27 over his last seven for the Cubs, whose .237 average ranks near the bottom of the majors.
Their starting pitchers also have been inconsistent, with two going fewer than four innings over the last four games. Hendricks (4-5, 3.66 ERA) went 2-0 with a 0.35 ERA over his previous four starts before allowing five runs - four in the first - in six innings of Wednesday's 9-1 loss at Cincinnati in the first game of a doubleheader.
The right-hander walked two, marking the first time he walked multiple hitters in nine outings.
''I'll be the first to say when I'm not making pitches, but I thought I threw the ball well,'' Hendricks said. ''I got some bad breaks."
Hendricks couldn't make any excuses the last time he faced the Rockies. He gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings before the Cubs rallied for a 6-5 win April 12, his first outing of the season that still stands as his shortest.
Former Cub DJ LeMahieu hit a three-run triple off Hendricks in that contest. He's batting .406 during a 16-game hitting streak and had a two-run double during a 10-run third inning of the Rockies' 17-7 rout of Cincinnati on Sunday.
Nolan Arenado, Ben Paulsen and Carlos Gonzalez each homered in that inning. Gonzalez finished with a career high-tying six RBIs and Paulsen set a personal best by driving in four.
Troy Tulowitzki, 0 for 15 over his last four, got the day off.
''You don't get a lot of those days where you get to coast to the finish line,'' manager Walt Weiss said.
Jorge De La Rosa (6-4, 4.62) takes the hill looking to remain unbeaten against Chicago. He went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA over his previous five starts before giving up six runs in six innings of Wednesday's 10-8 loss to Texas.
The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.32 ERA in 10 appearances - six starts - against the Cubs after giving up three runs and striking out seven in six innings of the Rockies' 4-3, 16-inning loss July 29.