The Cubs and Brewers locked up in a pitchers' duel for the second straight night. Jimmy Nelson faced John Lackey in a duel of big righties, the first just entering his prime and the other finding late success in his career.
With a thirteen inning game, neither starter figured in the decision. Lackey went six innings, allowing a run on 4 hits. Nelson worked into the eighth, shutting out the Cubs on 5 hits. Tyler Thornburg relieved him with one out and Cubs on first and third - and the middle of the Cubs line-up coming up. Jason Heyward popped to third on a change-up, and Kris Bryant struck out on a 2-2 curve ball to maintain a slim 1-0 lead.
But Jeremy Jeffress blew his first save of the year by allowing the Cubs to tie the game in the top of the ninth. He hit Anthony Rizzo with a curve ball to lead off the inning, and Ben Zobrist drilled a single to right. Two ground outs to second plated the run. The Brewers went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning and the teams went to the tenth tied 1-1.
Both teams wasted scoring opportunities until the Cubs scratched out a run in the 13th. With two down and runners on first and second, the Brewers elected to intentionally walk Miguel Montero to get to pitcher Travis Wood because the Cubs had no position players left. Reliever Carlos Torres walked Wood on 5 pitches. The Cubs had a single, the hit batter, the intentional walk, and the unintentional walk to produce the run.
The Brewers had squandered a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity in the bottom ot the twelfth. Hernan Perez hit a shallow fly to center with 3 on and nobody out but Ed Sedar held Chris Carter at third. Then Aaron Hill and Martin Maldanado popped out on the infield to end the threat. In the 13th, Jonathon Villar led off with a double. Scooter Gennett wisely fouled off two bunt attempts but hit a comebacker to Wood that left Villar at second. Neil Ramirez relieved Wood, and Lucroy walked on a 9 pitch at bat, during which Villar took third on a wild pitch. Chris Carter struck out for the fourth time in an 0-6 night. Clayton Richard relieved to go lefty/lefty with Nieuwenhuis, and Kirk grounded to second to end the game.
The Brewers scored the first run in the bottom of the fifth. Nieuwenhuis led off with a double over Bryant's head in left, and Domingo Santana lined a single over shortstop. Alex Presley's grounder to the hole to the left of second baseman Zobrist was only a fielder's choice, and Nieuwenhuis scored. The Brewers ran themselves out of an opportunity for more runs when Presley (moved to second on a walk by Hill) was caught off of second. Nelson failed on a bunt attempt, and Presley had edged too far off of the bag. Nelson struck out for the final out.
Milwaukee had another base running error in the fourth, when Cubs catcher David Ross caught Jonathon Lucroy too far off of second. Scooter Gennett was thrown out trying to steal second in the bottom of the sixth, and Villar in the eighth After a clean game Tuesday night, the mental lapses and outs on the bases were frustrating. The Cubs also had a baserunning blunder in the top of the fifth when Dexter Fowler took off on a steal attempt and Nelson stepped off and threw to second to get him.
The Brewers defense was good again,with the lone error a boot by Alex Presley of Jorge Soler's single in the eighth, allowing him to reach second. Soler was eventually stranded at third. The Crew turned three double plays. The first was a real gem, when Gennett dove for a grounder up the middle and flipped it with his glove to Villar covering second. Villar barehanded the toss and fired to first to nip Jason Heyward. For the second night in a row, a ball caromed off of Aaron Hill at third to Villar, with Villar making a strong throw to get Addison Russell to end the seventh.
The Brewers (17-23) go for a series win tomorrow afternoon with second ace Junior Guerra (2-0) facing Jason Hammel (5-0) for the Cubs (28-10).