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Cubs struggle with men in scoring position

Rudy Jaramillo held a meeting about clutch hitting Tuesday, but it went in vain. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

CHICAGO -- Even though the Chicago Cubs have the highest paid hitting coach in baseball, Rudy Jaramillo's message is not getting through to this group as it continues to struggle getting base hits with men in scoring position.

The Cubs were 1-for-13 with men in scoring position during Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Aramis Ramirez's two-run double in the fourth was the exception.

"When you do get your pitch, you better not miss it," Ramirez said. "This is the big leagues, and when they do make mistakes, you have to make them pay."

The Cubs have not responded to Jaramillo's teachings with men on base for most of the season. Although the Cubs' batting average is .263 -- third in the NL -- run production continues to be a constant problem.

Jaramillo had a meeting on the subject before Tuesday's game.

"Oh man, I know he had another meeting with them today," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "You just keep pounding away and hope its resonates and guys have decent approaches. It's a tough thing to hit in those situations. You just have to keep working at it."

The Cubs are 3-for-27 with runners in scoring position over the last two games.

Carlos Pena stranded seven Tuesday, including four in scoring position, and Marlon Byrd left four on, including three in scoring position.

"Those are a little more pressure situations with men in scoring position," Reed Johnson said. "But the pressure should be on the defense and the pitcher on the mound.

"Those at-bats should actually bring some relaxation to the hitter. But that's something we've struggled with all season. It seems like at the end of every night we have double digit hits, and only three or four runs. We need to relax, be a little more selective and do better in those situations."

Ramirez is doing his part. He's hitting .563 in his last 48 at-bats. He notched five hits for the first time in his career on Tuesday.