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Cubs hold off Brewers 6-4

Comeback falls short in ninth

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Curtis Granderson earning his keep
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Jose Quintana (12-9); LP: Jhoulys Chacin (14-6); Save: Pedro Strop (12); Homeruns: Chi - Daniel Murphy (10); Mil - Curtis Granderson (12)

look at this Box Score if you must

The Chicago Cubs (82-57) moved out to a 6-1 lead after 5 12 innings and held on to take the final game of the series from the Milwaukee Brewers (79-62), 6-4.

What was a pitchers’ duel for three innings turned quickly in the top of the fourth as the Cubs teed off on their season-long nemesis Brewers’ starter Jhoulys Chacin. Daniel Murphy led off with a homerun on a 2-0 curveball on the outside corner the opposite way, into the Milwaukee bullpen. Javy Baez singled to left, and Chacin threw over to first base twice. Both times Baez was just standing on the bag.

I don’t know if that unnerved Chacin, but he then gave up a base hit to center to Anthony Rizzo. As is his wont, Baez kept going to third, and Rizzo’s ball was scorched so Lorenzo Cain had a play on him, but his throw was way over Mike Moustakis’ head and off the railing. Orlando Arcia tracked the carom down and had Rizzo dead to rights heading for third, but threw wildly himself, allowing Rizzo to get into third safely. That was two errors on the play, but a Ben Zobrist double on a grounder that hit first base made that a moot point.

An out and a walk later Willson Contreras singled on a grounder that Jonathan Schoop ran down in short right, driving in Zobrist, with Kyle Schwarber (who drew the walk) out easily at third 4-3-5. 4-0 Cubs.

Milwaukee had one hit in three innings against Jose Quintana, just like the Cubs, but Hernan Perez led off the bottom of the fourth with a bloop hit to right center on a curve ball that LBR picked off the ground. A walk an out later to Ryan Braun put runners at first and second, and Schoop drilled a shot that came up on a hop and almost decapitated Kris Bryant on its way into left field, driving in Perez.

Braun and Schoop moved up on Contreras’ third passed ball in three games with Moustakis up, but Quintana caught Moustakis guessing on a 3-2 count, and Moose took a fastball right down the middle for strike three. Erik Kratz took a two strike pitch in the dirt off his knee to load ‘em up. Q retired Arcia on an infield pop-up, so the Crew left the sacks loaded and trailed 4-1.

Chicago added a run in the fifth. Chacin gave up a one-out single to Murphy sandwiched between two strikeouts, and Craig Counsell once again went with lefty Dan Jennings against a left-handed bat, and again Jennings failed to come through as Rizzo chopped one in front of the plate that bounded over Jesus Aguilar’s head and down the rightfield line. A shifted Schoop actually had a play on the not-so-swift Rizzo at first but misplayed the ball for an error, putting runners at second and third. Proving he’s an equal opportunity pitcher Jennings gave up a single to center to Zobrist to score Murphy, but Cain threw out Rizzo at the plate, a call that was upheld on appeal.

Corbin Burnes took the sixth inning and gave up a mammoth one out homer to Schwarber in the sixth, well out into the second deck in right. Milwaukee answered with a run in the bottom of the frame, as Aguilar singled and Braun doubled to start the inning, but could only manage an RBI groundout from Schoop, and the inning ended 6-2.

Burnes finally held the Cubs without a run in the seventh, due in part to a nifty double play started by Corbin on a comebacker from Murphy. The Crew went two up, two down in the bottom half against Quintana, but Joe Maddon decided to pull the lefty in favor of Jesse Chavez.

Chavez had some immediate failure as Cain had an infield single into the hole at short, and Curtis Granderson drilled a pinch homer into the Cubs bullpen to pull Milwaukee back within 6-4. That was Granderson’s first homer for Milwaukee, and gave the Crew some hope.

Aguilar just missed one on the bat and flew out to left on a ball that had to come close to the roof for the final out of the inning.

Milwaukee got lucky in the top of the eighth. Xavier Cedeno gave up a one out single and was replaced by Jacob Barnes. Bryant singled to left, putting two on, and Albert Almora scorched a liner right at Moustakis at third; Zobrist on second played it correctly and Moose had no play there, but Bryant was well off the bag at first and was doubled off easily.

The Brewers went down quietly in the bottom half 1-2-3 against Steve Cishek and Justin Wilson, so it remained 6-4 into the ninth.

After getting hit hard in the eighth, Barnes came back with a three up, three down ninth. There was a hard hit ball, but Tommy La Stella’s liner was right at Jacob and he corralled it for the second out. Ian Happ fanned to send the game to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth was electric but ultimately unsuccessful for the Brewers. The Cubs went with closer Pedro Strop, and Milwaukee had plenty of lefties on the bench to face him. Travis Shaw took first hacks, only he didn’t hack. Four straight balls from Strop put the Mayor on first. Christian Yelich’s day off was cancelled, and he (of course) singled to left.

Strop switched to sliders for his first two pitches to Eric Thames to get ahead 0-2, and a high fastball was popped up into shallow center for the first out. Cain’s grounder to Kris Bryant was deja vu all over again as he stepped on third and threw to first, only to see Cain barely beat the throw and keep the inning alive.

That brought up Granderson with the chance to do it again, but he struck out on a slider to end the ballgame.

So the Brewers fall back to four behind the Cubs, and with the Cardinals win they pull within a half game of the top Wild Card spot. After an off day Thursday, the San Francisco Giants will come to Miller Park for three games over the weekend. Chase Anderson (9-7, 3.96) will start the series for the Brewers and he’ll face off against yet another lefty, Derek Holland (7-8, 3.56) for San Fran.

Game Notes

  • A night after the Cubs played some pretty poor baseball the Brewers returned the favor. In the fourth their two errors contributed to two unearned runs by Chicago in a two run loss. Chacin also contributed a wild pitch to the inning.
  • Schoop’s error an inning later gave the Brewers three for the day.
  • Quintana wasn’t quite as dominant as before his last start vs Milwaukee, but he was good enough, coming up with big pitches in crucial situations.
  • That homerun by Schwarber was one of the most no doubt no doubters you’ll ever see.