Old friend Zach Davies came to town with the visiting Chicago Cubs to face off against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on Friday night, and in the early going, he held his former team in check. There were a bevy of hard-hit baseballs, but the Brewers went nine-up, nine-down across the first three innings of the game. Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser worked around some traffic in the early going, but matched his counterpart with three zeroes to start the game off.
In the fourth, both hurlers buckled.
It started with Houser in the top half. He walked Ian Happ to begin things, then back-to-back singles with one out scored the game’s first run. A fielder’s choice and error and by Eduardo Escobar led to another run coming home. Sergio Alcantara singled home another run, then a wild pitch by Houser brought in one more to make it 4-0. Things could have been worse, but Alcantara was thrown out in the inning at the plate trying to score on a grounder to shortstop by Davies.
Milwaukee answered in the bottom half. Kolten Wong doubled to get the inning going, then moved to third on a single by Escobar. A Christian Yelich single got Milwaukee on the board at 4-1, then Omar Narvaez walked to load the bases. Luis Urias singled to plate two of the runners, bringing the score to 4-3.
Each team added a single tally in the fifth, with Frank Schwindel hitting a solo homer off Houser, and Urias drawing a bases-loaded walk off Codi Heuer in the bottom half to force in a run. Houser’s day ended after four-plus innings, as he gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts. Hunter Strickland worked his way through the fifth, then gave way to the suddenly sensational Aaron Ashby for some long-relief work.
AA carved up the Cubbies for three innings, giving up three harmless singles while striking out five batters and walking none. That set the stage for Milwaukee to sprint ahead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The frame started innocuously enough, with Jackie Bradley, Jr. striking out, Luis Urias singling, then Jace Peterson whiffing. But with two outs, Milwaukee began to rally. Dan Vogelbach walked and was pinch-ran for by Pablo Reyes. That would become quite important, as Lorenzo Cain blooped a single to right field. Urias scampered home to tie the game at 5-5, and Reyes made the aggressive run from first to third on the hit. It was a close play at third base, and one that the Cubs challenged via instant replay — but the safe call for Reyes at third was ultimately upheld. Cain stole second, and then Luke Maile walked to load the bases. That brought up Wong, who broke the dead heat with a single to center that scored a pair and made it 7-5. Dillon Maples then came on for the Cubs, and he walked a pair and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch before finally recording the final out of the inning and sending things to the ninth with a score of 8-5.
That would be where the game ended as Josh Hader pitched a scoreless inning to lock up his 32nd save of the season. The Brewers have now reached 90 wins for the year, and can go 7-8 over their final 15 games to set a new franchise record for victories in a regular season. It was also their 10th consecutive victory over the Cubs — only the second time in franchise history that the Brewers have beaten an individual opponent in 10+ games (Pittsburgh, 2008). The Brewers could officially clinch a postseason berth on Saturday with a win and losses by the Padres and Reds. It’ll be Corbin Burnes versus Justin Steele in game two, with first pitch scheduled for 6:15 PM central.