"We've got to continue adding on," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The problem is we scored early, and then we just kind of flat-lined the rest of the ballgame."
The Tigers led off the game with two straight singles before Jeimer Candelario's groundout plated Mikie Mahtook for their first run. Niko Goodrum then doubled home Nicholas Castellanos. Both runs came off Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks.
Chicago-area native Jim Adduci, in his season debut, singled to start the fourth and scored the Tigers' third run on James McCann's single to left, also off Hendricks.
Tacking on more runs after getting an early lead is what helped the Tigers break out of their funk on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Even on Monday, when they stalled for a few innings after taking a one-run lead in the sixth and allowed Toronto to tie it in the ninth, they were able to push one more across in the 10th for the win.
That was not the case Tuesday. Once Hendricks was out of the game, so too were the Tigers. They recorded one hit over the remaining four innings.
Mahtook, who went 3-for-4 in his second game since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo, provided the team's only consistent offensive bright spot.
"I've been seeing [the ball] well for the last month or so," said Mahtook, who was sent down in May to work on his swing after struggling earlier in the season. Gardenhire said Mahtook's swing path looked much better on Tuesday.
The Tigers are averaging 3.14 runs per game over their past 14 games, which is more than a run below the Major League average this season. They have scored more than five runs in a game just twice during that span.
Detroit's lack of offense negated what was a mostly solid outing for Michael Fulmer, especially considering the Cubs had scored at least 10 runs in each of their previous four games. A three-run Chicago rally in the fifth was the lone blemish for Fulmer, who completed six innings and allowed seven hits while striking out five.
Fulmer attributed his shaky fifth inning -- in which he allowed three straight opposite-field doubles before recording an out -- to the Cubs hitting the setup pitches he intentionally threw out of the zone, rather than him making mistakes over the heart of the plate. He said Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward both expanded the zone on their RBI doubles.
"I wanted to set up the inside fastball, so I threw a changeup off the plate, away, looking to get to 2-2," Fulmer said. "[Heyward's] just so long and lanky that he got to it."
"[Fulmer]'s got that little extra thing when he needs it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's the kind of guy you keep trying to hit home runs against, and you come up empty. We finally adjusted our approach and had some great at-bats."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bunting gone wrong: The Tigers had already scored a run in the fourth and had a chance for a big inning when they had runners on first and second with nobody out. Jose Iglesias popped out before Fulmer's sacrifice bunt attempt faltered. It went right to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who fired to third to start a 3-5-4 double play.
SOUND SMART Tigers starting pitchers have thrown six or more innings in each of their past seven games, which is the team's longest such streak since Aug. 1-7, 2014.
UP NEXT Francisco Liriano takes the mound for the Tigers against fellow southpaw Jose Quintana in the final game of the two-game series on Independence Day. Liriano has lost each of his past three starts, posting a 6.00 ERA over 15 innings in that span, and he hasn't earned a win since the end of April. First pitch is set for 2:20 ET from Wrigley Field.