Game Sixty-Seven – Cubs 5 Brewers 9
WP – Chris Narveson (4-4) LP – Carlos Zambrano (5-4) Save – None
The Chicago Cubs remain the only team in baseball that has not posted three-game winning streak this season. After rain delayed the start of the game one hour and 42 minutes, Q’s squad took an early lead Wednesday night on Jeff Baker’s second home run of the season, his first since April 8 against Randy Wolf in Milwaukee. But Carlos Zambrano struggled again and the Cubs lost for the 40th time in 2011.
Carlos Zambrano was sharp over the first three innings but was horrible in his last three innings … and it cost his team the ballgame. Zambrano struck out the side in the first after allowing back-to-back hits to Rickie Weeks and Nyjer Morgan to start the game. Z ran into trouble in the fourth and 32 pitches later, the Brewers took the lead and never looked back.
The Brewers scored two off Zambrano in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Zambrano labored through six innings and allowed five runs on nine hits (six for extra bases) with two walks and six strikeouts. Zambrano threw 110 pitches, 70 for strikes.
The Cubs tried to make a game of it in the fifth. Reed Johnson made it a 5-4 game with a three-run homer off Chris Narveson. But the Cubs pen gave up four runs (two earned) over the final three innings.
Chris Narveson improved to a perfect 5-0 in his career against the Chicago Cubs.
The Brewers out hit the Cubs 14-9 and took advantage of the extra outs the Cubs defense gave them. Starlin Castro committed his 15th error of the season that led to the two unearned runs in the seventh.
D.J. LeMahieu picked up his first career big league RBI with a single in the eighth.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped back to 13 games below the mediocre mark with a 27-40 record on the season. The Brewers jumped on Carlos Zambrano in the first inning … and Big Z bent a little but did not break.
Rickie Weeks led off the game with a double to right. Nyjer Morgan reached on an infield single to the hole at short. With runners on first and second with no outs, Z reached back and struck out Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee to end the inning.
The Cubs took an early lead in the bottom of the first. After Chris Narveson retired Starlin Castro and Reed Johnson to start the inning, Jeff Baker ripped a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left center. Baker’s second home run of the season gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Z retired the Brewers in order in the second but the Cubs offense could not take advantage of a couple of Brewers gifts in the home half.
Blake DeWitt reached on an error by Rickie Weeks on a ball hit up the middle (later changed to a single). Casey McGehee allowed a grounder off the bat of D.J. LeMahieu to get under his glove and end up in left field. The Brewers second straight error put runners on first and second with one out. Mike Quade allowed Z to swing away and Zambrano struck out swinging for the second out. The wasted out could have cost the Cubs a run. Starlin Castro lined out to short to end the inning.
Z faced the minimum in the third after a textbook relay from Luis Montanez to D.J. LeMahieu to Aramis Ramirez cut down Rickie Weeks trying to stretch a double into a triple. After three, Z had thrown 45 pitches … 31 for strikes.
The Cubs went quickly and quietly in the bottom of the third.
Carlos Zambrano labored through a long 32-pitch fourth inning and the Brewers turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
Ryan Braun led off the inning with a double to right center. Z walked Prince Fielder. With runners on first and second with no outs, McGehee hit a grounder up the middle. Castro got to the ball and tossed to LeMahieu to force Fielder at second. Corey Hart tied the game with a single to right. Betancourt grounded out to short, Hart was forced at second but with runners on first and third with two outs, Jonathan Lucroy singled to left on a 2-0 pitch. McGehee scored the go ahead run … and the Brewers never looked back.
Zambrano struck out Chris Narveson to end the fourth but after four Z’s pitch count stood at 77, 50 for strikes.
The Brewers pretty much put the game away in the top of the fifth. Zambrano retired Weeks and Morgan to start the inning (ground out to third, soft lineout to short) but Ryan Braun doubled down the left field line. Z intentionally walked Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee made him (and the Cubs) pay again.
McGehee ripped Z’s first pitch into left center. Braun scored and Fielder slid in safe after Soto could not handle the one-hop relay throw from Starlin Castro. McGehee ended up at third and scored on the Brewers’ third double of the inning. Hart lined a 1-1 pitch down the left field line and McGehee trotted home with the Brewers’ fifth run … 5-1 Milwaukee after four-and-a-half.
The Cubs made it interesting in the bottom of the fifth. Zambrano worked a leadoff walk, his second free pass of the season. Castro followed with a walk and both were on board for Reed Johnson’s third homer of the season.
Johnson launched a 1-1 pitch from Narveson well over the wall in left and if not for a fan catching the ball with his hat it would have ended up on Waveland.
Jeff Baker walked following Reed’s homer but Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto struck out. Montanez lined out to center to end the inning.
After five, the Brewers led 5-4.
The game remained 5-4 until the Brewers broke the game open in the seventh and eighth.
Ryan Braun reached on a one-out infield single to first. Jeff Baker deflected the ball to LeMahieu but Braun hustled down the line … and beat James Russell to the bag.
With Prince Fielder at the plate, Russell appeared to pick off Braun. Russell threw to first and Baker made a perfect throw to second … but Castro took his eye off the ball and dropped it. Castro’s error kept the inning alive for the Brewers.
Russell walked Fielder and Quade went to his pen for Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter retired McGehee on a fly out to right. Braun tagged and advanced to third on the play. Carpenter walked Hart to load the bases with two outs. Betancourt singled to center on a 0-1 pitch. Braun and Fielder scored … 7-4 Brewers. Lucroy struck out swinging to end the inning.
With one out in the eighth, Rickie Weeks stepped in and crushed John Grabow’s first pitch … the ball ended up on Waveland and the Brewers took an 8-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Blake DeWitt doubled with one out in the bottom of the eighth and scored on a single to left off the bat of D.J. LeMahieu. LeMahieu’s first career RBI cut the Brewers lead to 8-5. Tony Campana grounded out to second on a close play at first and Castro hit a grounder to Weeks in the shift to end the inning.
The Brewers tacked on another run in the top of the ninth. Rodrigo Lopez pitched the final inning and gave up a leadoff single to Prince Fielder. Lopez hit McGehee then gave up a single to Corey Hart to load the bases with no outs. With the infield in, Lopez struck out Betancourt for the first out.
Jonathan Lucroy hit a sac fly into right center. Johnson’s throw was well off line and Fielder scored the Brewers’ ninth and final run of the game. Mark Kotsay struck out swinging to end the inning.
Reed Johnson led off the ninth with a single to left. John Axford struck out Jeff Baker and Aramis Ramirez. Geovany Soto worked a two out walk but Kosuke Fukudome struck out to end the game.
Three games, three games …maybe one day.
Matt Garza will face Zack Greinke in the finale of the four-game series Thursday afternoon.