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Brewers come up short in back-and-forth opener, fall 5-4 to Cubs

Inconsistent pitching and failure to drive in runners lead to an Opening Day loss.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Box Score

The Brewers opened their 2022 regular season with a loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Corbin Burnes got the Opening Day assignment on the mound. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner was inconsistent in his season debut, working five innings and allowing three runs on four hits, including a home run. Burnes struck out four, but he also struggled with his control, issuing three walks.

The right-hander struggled to find a feel for his cutter over the first two innings, working around walks in each frame and striking out none. He wiggled out of a two-on, one-out jam in the second by inducing a groundout from Jason Heyward and a flyout from Patrick Wisdom.

Burnes began to dial it in after that and retired seven straight. He punched out all three hitters he faced in the third and fanned Willson Contreras to start the fourth.

Meanwhile, the Brewers got on the board first in the top of the fourth. After Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe singled, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks hit Omar Narvaez with a 1-2 pitch.

That brought up Lorenzo Cain, who hit a roller to first base that plated McCutchen. Frank Schwindel initially attempted to turn a double play, but he struggled to transfer the ball from his glove to his throwing hand, prompting him to settle for the sure out at first.

The fifth inning brought more struggles for Burnes, who allowed back-to-back singles to Seiya Suzuki and Heyward, a sacrifice fly to Wisdom, and a two-run home run to Nico Hoerner on a hanging slider. Burnes finished the remainder of the inning unscathed before exiting.

Aaron Ashby was first out of the bullpen. The left-hander posted a scoreless inning in which he worked around a hit, a walk, and a pop-up that Rowdy Tellez lost in the wind.

The Brewers evened the game at three runs apiece in the top of the seventh off of old friend Daniel Norris and Chris Martin. Willy Adames doubled down the third-base line to drive in Lorenzo Cain, and Christian Yelich followed with a sac fly that plated Kolten Wong.

Unfortunately, Chicago took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. With Clint Frazier on second after a double and Willson Contreras due up, Craig Counsell called for slider specialist Jake Cousins to relieve Ashby. Cousins unleashed a running fastball that got away from him and hit Contreras. That brought up the switch-hitting Ian Happ, who lined a double off the basket in center field to score both runners.

The Brewers would add one more run in the top of the eighth on a sac fly by Cain. A broken bat single to Willy Adames brought the tying run to the plate, but David Robertson struck out Yelich and got McCutchen to ground out for his first save of the season.

While the offense showed some signs of life, they struggled to capitalize with runners on base. The Brewers put the leadoff man on in seven straight innings, but they stranded nine runners and went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks outdueled Burnes on the mound, striking out seven Brewers thanks in large part to his excellent changeup. Hendricks allowed one run on five hits and three walks over 5 13 innings.

The Brewers will send Brandon Woodruff to the mound for the second game of the season, and the Cubs will counter with Justin Steele. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CDT.