SAN FRANCISCO -- The Chicago Cubs still have the best record in baseball despite losing seven of their last 11 games, including Sunday's 1-0 setback to the San Francisco Giants, and two straight on the road for the first time this year.
That's the reason Cubs manager Joe Maddon can't be too upset as his team gathers up its belongings and heads to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals.
"It's very difficult to sustain the level we're at," Maddon said. "When you do get off to a good start, you can absorb a bad moment. When I look in the newspapers and see us at 70 percent, I can't be too upset."
Maddon preached getting off to a good start since the beginning of Spring Training. It happened, though there's still about 75 percent of the regular season remaining, and to be called the best team in baseball is cool, but it doesn't mean much to the Cubs.
"This is a snapshot. It's May," Maddon said. "I want to be the best team in baseball but it doesn't matter if you are now. After the last game has been played, that's when I want to be the best team. Right now it creates wonderful conversation. It's up to us to sustain it."
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks pitched another solid game and has been consistently good all season despite his losing record. Hendricks has received one run or fewer of support in five of his eight starts and allowed just Madison Bumgarner's RBI double in Sunday's loss.
"I knew the game would be tight and I had to keep it close," Hendricks said. "The thing for me was the two leadoff walks. I walked [Gregor] Blanco and then made a terrible pitch to Bumgarner. I tried to throw a slider down but it leaked up. It was hard for me to hit my spot. My ball was moving well and I had to grind through it."
Had Maddon been in the stands, he might have enjoyed the game a little more. As it was, he could appreciate the quality of baseball played.
"There's nothing to be upset about," he said. "Both teams played well; both teams pitched great. It was pretty even. I have a lot of respect for Bumgarner. He competes. He's out there with one purpose. There's a lot to learn from watching a guy like that, and it goes beyond physical ability. He should have a course in competing."
Maddon was no less effusive about his own starter. Hendricks came out of the game after walking Matt Duffy to open the sixth and them retiring Buster Posey on an infield popup.
"I hated taking him out," Maddon said. "He was pitching great. The only thing was the leadoff walk. He had a good fastball."
Cubs catcher David Ross was in agreement.
"It all starts with the leadoff walk," he said. "And then the one bad pitch to Bumgarner. The guy is a pretty good hitter and made him pay. He's got some thump in that bat. It was a good series, a fun series. This is one of my favorite venues to play in. It's always a good atmosphere."