Cubs hope bats remain alive vs. Marlins

CHICAGO — When the Chicago Cubs struggled to find their footing in April, team president Theo Epstein cited the earliness of the season.

But when the Cubs’ issues — specifically in scoring runs — crept into May, Epstein’s concerns grew deeper. After the Cubs were swept in St. Louis over the weekend to extend their losing streak to five games, manager Joe Maddon admitted his players were pressing.

That came before the Cubs snapped their skid Monday night with a 14-2 victory over the Miami Marlins, when Chicago’s bats finally came alive with a flurry of offensive firepower that included four home runs, including two by Ian Happ.

It was the kind of burst Epstein and Maddon have been waiting for after the Cubs had scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their past 11 games before Monday’s offensive explosion.

“We have a number of guys who are pressing, and we’re slumping,” Epstein told reporters before Monday’s victory. “It’s not pretty. We know our fans are probably frustrated and dying. Our (players) care a lot and we know they’re pressing and we know it’s not going to last forever.

“There’s no easy answer. There’s no fire-and-brimstone speech that will turn this thing around. Just continue to work hard and one good swing for each player involved usually is the key for having them feel good and go on a tear.”

Javier Baez, who also delivered a three-run homer in Monday’s blowout victory, left the game with groin tightness in the seventh inning.

The Cubs’ sudden burst of offense came on a day when Tuesday’s scheduled starter against the Marlins, Yu Darvish, was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Darvish, who has yet to register his first victory since joining the Cubs, was sent to the DL with the flu, retroactive to Friday.

Darvish (0-3, 6.00 ERA), who has failed to get out of the fifth inning in four of his first six starts, will next be scheduled to pitch on May 14 in a makeup game against the Braves.

Maddon told reporters after Monday’s game he isn’t completely certain who will start in Darvish’s place and that he may need to resort to a bullpen day before Jose Quintana is scheduled to finish off the series on Wednesday.

The Marlins continued to struggle to score runs on Monday against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks, who allowed two runs over eight innings. And as manager Don Mattingly keeps playing with his lineup to construct one that can produce, he knows something is going to have to give in the meantime.

It’s tough because we’re really not hitting the ball out of the ballpark on any kind of consistent basis, so you’ve got to try to find ways to put runs on the board,” Mattingly said recently, according to the Miami Herald. “You want to be able to do some things out there, to be able to scratch for runs.”

Right-hander Jose Urena will start for the Marlins still in search for his first victory this season. Urena (0-5, 4.28 ERA) is coming off a solid seven-inning outing against the Philadelphia Phillies when he scattered seven hits, allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out six. Urena is 2-2 with a 4.71 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs.