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Brewers top Cubs 2-1, take series 2-1

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That’s a long drive back to Illinois after two straight losses to the Brewers.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Wow - Rizzo...or Broxton??
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Corey Knebel (1-2); LP Joe Smith (2-5); Save: Tyler Thornburg (9); Homeruns: Chi. Anthony Rizzo (29), Mil. Jonathan Villar 2 (14,15)

Milwaukee won a pitchers’ duel at Miller Park tonight, 2-1 over the Cubs. Both starting pitchers were very tough, with Matt Garza going six innings and Mike Montgomery going five, leaving with the game tied 1-1. The Brewer bullpen out-performed the Chicago pen and some outstanding defense in the ninth finalized the outcome. the Brewers ended the night with five hits, while the Cubs were held to just three.

Manny Pina was the first baserunner for the Crew, drawing a one-out walk in the bottom of the third. Garza tried to bunt him to second, but the Cubs turned the double play when a player alignment not allowed last time the Cubs were in town led to an easy play for Anthony Rizzo, playing right next to the pitcher. Addison Russell’s throw to first nipped Garza for the final out of the inning.

Umpires had not allowed that shift, with second baseman Ben Zobrist holding the runner at first, due to no player except the first baseman being allowed to use the first baseman’s glove. If I recall, Joe West wouldn’t allow it. Cubs manager Joe Madden must have gotten league clarification, or I’m sure Craig Counsell would have argued the alignment.

The Brewers’ first hit was a homerun from Jonathan Villar leading off the bottom of the fourth, driving a change-up into deep left-center. The ball bounced off of the top of the wall and into the bullpen.

Ryan Braun had the second hit one out later, a liner into left center. Braun tried to stretch it into a double, and beat the throw from Dexter Fowler, but he over-slid the bag and Zobrist tagged him out. Montgomery worked five innings for the Cubs, allowing those two hits, walking two and striking out six, with the one earned run.

Garza went six, and held the 1-0 lead until Anthony Rizzo hit his third homer in the past two days with two down and two strikes in the top of the sixth. Garza had worked through a bases loaded, one out jam in the top of the first, getting a fielder’s choice at the plate from Addison Russell and a groundout to short from Chris Coghlin. Matt’s final line was six innings, three hits, one earned, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Milwaukee had a single and four walks in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, but couldn’t get a runner past second. Villar led off the bottom of the eighth with the game still at 1-1 and hit his second homer of the night on Joe Smith’s first pitch. Jonathan’s homerun went off of the bottom of the scoreboard in dead center. Villar has moved to 15 homers, and had one from both sides of the plate tonight. He also matched Rizzo’s total of three in the last two games.

Carlos Torres and Corey Knebel had perfect innings in the seventh and eighth, and Tyler Thornburg came in for the save. He fanned Kris Bryant on a fastball, and then Keon Broxton saved the save for Tyler when he robbed Rizzo of his second homer with a leaping catch at the wall in center. Awesome play, and Keon made up for his 0-4 night. Turn about was fair play, as Rizzo had caught Broxton’s foul pop while standing on the wall down the first base line earlier this year. This one was more important. When Zobrist flew to right, the Brewers had their second series win against the Cubs this year.

The Brewers (62-77) send Junior Guerra (7-3, 2.85) out against the Cardinals (73-65) and Jaime Garcia (10-11, 4.41) in St. Louis tomorrow night.