WP: Carl Edwards (5-4); LP: Corey Knebel (1-4); Save: none; HR: Chi - none; Mil - Stephen Vogt (11), Brett Phillips (3)
For the second night in a row, the Milwaukee Brewers went to extra innings with the division leading Chicago Cubs, and for the second night in a row they fell in the tenth, this time 5-4. The loss drops the Brewers 5½ games back of the Cubs, and into third in the division behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards, 4-3 winners over the Pirates, trail the Cubs by five and also moved ahead of the Brewers in the Wild Card chase, 1½ back of the Rockies (the Brewers trail by two games). The Rockies beat the Padres 4-1.
The Cubs’ winning rally came against Corey Knebel. Knebel, working his second inning, lost command in the inning. He walked Kris Bryant leading things off, then allowed a sharp single to Anthony Rizzo, sending Bryant to third. The Brewers had abandoned their Rizzo shift to sit in a more conventional double play infield arrangement. Had they shifted, it would most likely have been an out, with Bryant moving to second.
Craig Counsell ordered an intentional walk to Ben Zobrist, and Knebel struck out Leonys Martin for the first out. Knebel then walked pinch hitter Tommy La Stella on a 3-2 pitch to force in the ultimately decisive run. Jason Heyward flew out to shallow right, with runners holding, and Corey struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.
Winning pitcher Carl Edwards had the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and walked Hernan Perez to give the Brewers some hope they could extend the game. Eric Sogard’s grounder to Rizzo near the bag resulted in a fielder’s choice, and with Neil Walker up Sogard took off for second on a pitch in the dirt. Eric beat the throw but came off the base as Baez held his tag (another call that went the Cubs way on replay - and it was the correct call). Walker flew to left, and that was the ballgame.
Milwaukee scored first, getting on the board in the bottom of the first against Cubs’ starter John Lackey. A one out double from Walker and a single to right by Ryan Braun gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead. They added two more in the bottom of the second on back to back, two out homeruns from Stephen Vogt and Brett Phillips. 3-0 Brewers.
Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff was touched for two runs in both the third and the fifth, with RBI hits from John Jay and Bryant in the second and a two run knock by Zobrist in the fifth.
The Brewers tied it in the bottom of the inning. Sogard led off the inning with a single, and Brian Duensing replaced Lackey. Walker hit into a twin killing, but Braun doubled down the right field line. He came around to score when Travis Shaw also doubled, into the gap in left center.
Josh Hader replaced Woodruff for the sixth and worked 21⁄3 innings of shutout relief. He allowed two singles and once again walked none, recording one strikeout. Anthony Swarzak replaced Hader with one down in the eighth and recorded the final two outs without incident.
Seven strikeouts from Brewer hitters “highlighted” the sixth through the ninth innings, as they mounted no threat in those frames against the Cubs bullpen.
In a bizarre twist, the Cubs’ ninth began with a groundball to first that saw a Cubs runner called safe on replay, this time with Baez beating Knebel to the mound. Last night’s game saw the ninth inning begin the same way, and that runner came around to score the tying run. Knebel was slow getting there; Baez was originally called out but the play was quickly overturned on replay. This time, however, Baez was erased in a nifty double play; with Javier running, Wilson Contreras sharp grounder to Walker resulted in the first two outs of the inning. Walker’s flip to second just nipped Baez, and the return throw to first was in plenty of time to complete the twin-killing. (Can I still call it that?)
Saturday’s game begins at 12:05, and Milwaukee (81-73) will try and right the ship after three excruciating losses in a row with lefty Brent Suter (3-2, 3.41) facing Chicago (86-67) starter Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.22).