Game Seventy-Seven – Cubs 7, Brewers 2
WP – Matt Garza (3-1) LP – Wily Peralta (5-9) Save – None
If Thursday turns out to be Matt Garza’s swan song with the Cubs, then he saved one of his best for last. Matt Garza struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven dominant innings and led the Cubs to their first series win at Miller Park in nearly three years (Sept. 2010).
With rumors flying before the game that he could be traded by the weekend with a good start against the Brewers, Matt Garza struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. Garza limited Milwaukee to just one run on eight hits in seven innings. Garza was still hitting 94 mph on the gun in the seventh innings as he worked out of a first and second no-out jam without allowing any runs. Garza kept his pitch count low early on, even with all of the strikeouts, by walking only one batter on the afternoon. Garza threw 101 pitches, 66 for strikes, and ended with a final line of one run on eight hits with one walk, a hit batsman, and 10 strikeouts. And Matt Garza (2-for-3 with a run scored) became the first Cubs’ starting pitcher since Ryan Dempster in 2009 to strikeout 10 and collect two hits in the same start.
Matt Garza has allowed two runs on 15 hits with five walks and 23 strikeouts over his last three starts (22 innings, 0.81 ERA, 0.91 WHIP).
The third time was the charm for the offense against Wily Peralta. The Cubs scored seven runs, three earned, on eight hits in five innings against Peralta on Thursday afternoon with a walk and two strikeouts. Four of the seven runs scored in the third inning thanks to two Brewers’ errors that extended the inning.
Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) gave his battery mate a lot of breathing room in the third inning when his seventh longball of the season turned a 3-0 advantage into a 6-0 lead. Brian Bogusevic (1-for-4 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored) doubled in Ryan Sweeney (1-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base) with the Cubs’ first run then scored the second on an infield single by Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a RBI) wit two outs in the second inning.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and a run scored) had another good game at the plate and is 4-for-10 since his much-needed day off on Tuesday night.
The offense made another Brewers’ starter work, put up a lot of runs early and knocked him out of the game. On the afternoon, the Cubs scored seven runs on nine hits with three walks and finished the game 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position while leaving six men on base … and for the seventh game in a row the Cubs hit at least one home run.
The Brewers second run scored in the eighth inning when Juan Francisco went deep for the third time in as many days … on Thursday it was against Blake Parker.
With Thursday’s win, the Cubs are no longer in the cellar and improved to 33-44 on the season.
Ryan Sweeney led off the second inning with a single to left center. Sweeney then swiped second on a 3-1 pitch to Rizzo after Segura could not hang onto the ball. Rizzo struck out swinging for the first out. Sweeney made a good read on a ball in the dirt on a 0-1 pitch to Bogusevic and took third. Brian Bogusevic drove a 1-2 pitch into left for a double and Sweeney scored from third. Navarro grounded out to second but his productive out moved Sweeney to third … and it led to a run. Darwin Barney followed and reached on an infield single off Peralta’s glove. Bogusevic scored, 2-0 Cubs. Matt Garza singled to keep the inning going but Valbuena tapped back to the mound to end the inning.
Garza worked around a four-pitch walk to Aramis Ramirez to start the second … and at the end of two, the Cubs led 2-0.
Starlin Castro led off the third with a single to center. Castro swiped second on a 2-1 pitch to Schierholtz. Peralta struck out Schierholtz and Sweeney appeared to fly out to left. But the adventures of Caleb Gindl in left continued. The ball hit off the tip of Gindl’s glove, Castro scored as Sweeney ended up at second with one out. Rizzo flied out to deep center. Bogusevic hit a grounder toward third that Ramirez fielded and threw to first. Francisco dropped the ball and the Cubs had runners on the corners with two down.
Dioner Navarro stepped in and launched his seventh homer of the year over the wall in right … and just like that, the Cubs led 6-0. Barney flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs added on in the fourth after Matt Garza singled to right and advanced to second when Peralta walked Valbuena. Castro’s productive out (grounder to first) put runners on second and third with one out. Nate Schierholtz flied out to right, Garza tagged and scored … 7-0 Cubs. Peralta retired Sweeney to end the inning.
The game remained 7-0 Cubs until the bottom of the sixth. Garza needed only 77 pitches, 47 for strikes, to complete five innings and took the hill in the last of the sixth with a commanding lead.
Jean Segura led off the sixth with a single to right. Ramirez followed with a single to left and put runners on first and second with no outs … just the second time on the afternoon the Brewers put two runners on base at the same time. A 0-2 pitch in the dirt got away from Navarro. Segura swiped third but Navarro threw to second and nailed Ramirez for the second out. Garza struck out Francisco for out number two.
Logan Schafer stepped in and pulled a 0-1 breaking ball into right. Segura scored on Schafer’s double and put the Brewers on the board. Garza retired Maldonado on a fly out to center to end the inning.
After six complete, the Cubs led 7-1.
The Cubs could not capitalize on a leadoff double by Starlin Castro and a walk by Nate Schierholtz to start the seventh and Garza stayed in for Brewers’ seventh.
Caleb Gindl led off the seventh with a single to left. Jeff Bianchi followed with single and the Brewers had runners on first and second with no outs. Garza retired Weeks (flyout to center), Aoki (flyout to left) and Segura (groundout to second) to end the inning … and his afternoon.
The Brewers’ offense managed only one run off the Cubs’ pen, the long homer by Francisco in the eighth. Shawn Camp closed out the game and the series with a scoreless ninth.
The Cubs open a three-game series in Seattle on Friday night … Travis Wood against Hisashi Iwakuma in game one starting at 9:10pm CDT.