The Cubs have learned to brace themselves for Edwin Jackson's mercurial ways.

Monday night's 9-3 loss to the Reds was no different as Jackson struggled early, settled into a comfortable pattern before failing to get a key out.

But another disturbing trend has surfaced: a lack of clutch hitting has put added pressure on the likes of Jake Arrieta and Jackson and led to the Cubs' third consecutive loss — all occurring since the trade of starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

"For me, the storyline is we had some opportunities to score runs," manager Rick Renteria said. "Jackson gave us a chance."

Without the early support, Jackson's trends became magnified. After committing the cardinal sin of walking speedy rookie Billy Hamilton to start the first and allowing him to score, Jackson's first-inning ERA swelled to 7.00.

"It's a matter of one inning," Jackson said. "That's made a difference."

Jackson (5-9) settled into a groove by retiring 13 consecutive batters. But when the Cubs finally gave Jackson a tying run in the fifth, he allowed two runs in the bottom of the inning, both on two-out hits by Hamilton and Todd Frazier.

In Jackson's defense, the Cubs' failure to capitalize on early opportunities left him with no margin for error.

"We could have balanced out the score," said Renteria, whose Cubs have been outscored 24-4 during the losing streak and are 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position in their last two losses.

Coghlan collected the eighth four-hit game of his career, but his performance was virtually wasted. Fortunately for the Cubs, Coghlan's double in the seventh paid off when Rizzo — bidding for his first National League All-Star selection on the fan's Final Vote ballot — hit a towering two-run home run that cut the deficit to 4-3.

But Jay Bruce countered with a two-run home run off James Russell, and Hamilton hit a bases-loaded triple.