Cubs Keep Coming Up Short at Miller Park – Brewers 5, Cubs 3

Game Twenty-Three: Cubs 3, Brewers 5

WP – Marco Estrada (2-1) LP – Travis Wood (1-3) Save – Francisco Rodriguez (11)

The days of Wrigley Field North are long gone as the Cubs struggles at Miller Park continued on Saturday night. The Cubs dropped their fourth game in a row after Marco Estrada improved to 5-0 against the Cubs … with Saturday’s loss, the Cubs are 6-24 in Milwaukee since 2011.

The Cubs made very little contact against Marco Estrada and the Brewers’ pen. After striking out 12 times on Friday, the Cubs struck out 11 times on Saturday without a single walk and managed only one hit through the first six innings. The Cubs ended up making the most of the four hits they managed off of Marco Estrada.

Luis Valbuena (1-for-4 with a home run) and Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) drove in the Cubs’ runs with a pair of longballs. Valbuena hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and Castillo hit a two-run blast off Estrada in the eighth. Welington Castillo tied Mike Olt for the team lead in homers when he took Estrada out to right in the eighth inning. Mike Olt (1-for-3 with a run) was a long for the ride. Starlin Castro (1-for-4) collected the other hit after making two loud outs in his first two at bats. The right handed hitters in Renteria’s lineup squared up Estrada rather well, while the lefties, outside of Valbuena’s blast, made very little contact (six of Estrada’s nine strikeouts).

The Cubs did not have a single at bat with a runner in scoring position and left one runner on base.

Travis Wood simply did not have it Saturday. Wood had a bad night and could not keep the Brewers off the bases or the scoreboard. Wood struggled with his command and had trouble putting batters away. The Brewers ran up Wood’s pitch count (71 pitches after three innings) and it was pretty apparent early on that a quality start was not in the cards for Travis Wood on Saturday night.

Travis Wood gave up a run in the first, two more in the second and single runs in the four and sixth innings. And if not for a tremendous 4-2 double play started by Luis Valbuena to end the fourth inning, Wood’s final line would look a lot worse than it does. Wood gave up a season–high five runs on seven hits with three walks, a hit batsman and three strikeouts. Wood threw 107 pitches, 69 for strikes, in 5 2/3 innings.

Brian Schlitter surrendered a hit in 1 1/3 innings after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Iowa and Pedro Strop pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts.

Luis Valbuena had a very good game. Valbuena not only put the Cubs on the board with his first longball of the season in the fourth inning, he was made the routine plays at second base and turned in the web gem in the fourth inning.

Jeff Bianchi was not scheduled to play on Saturday night. And he ended up having a big part in the Brewers victory over his former team. Bianchi replaced Jean Segura in the first inning after Ryan Braun knocked Segura out of the game. Segura was walking through the dugout on his way to the on deck when Braun hit him with his bat. Braun was loosening up inside the Brewers’ dugout and did not see his teammate walking up the dugout. Segura walked into the bat and had to be helped into the clubhouse. Reports after the game indicated Segura did not receive a concussion or any fractures in his face.

Jeff Bianchi (2-for-4 with two RBI) singled in his first at bat and set-up the Brewers’ first run and delivered a two-run single with the bases loaded in the second inning that ended up being the difference in the game.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 7-16 on the season.

The Cubs went down in order on just 13 pitches in the first inning before the Brewers went to work against Travis Wood in the home half. Travis Wood jumped ahead of Carlos Gomez 0-2 before Gomez worked a full count and a walk. Jeff Bianchi hit for Jean Segura after Ryan Braun injured his teammate and singled to center. Ryan Braun flied out to deep right. Gomez tagged and advanced to third with one out. Aramis Ramirez lifted a 2-2 pitch into medium depth centerfield. Bonifacio caught the ball and made a strong throw to the plate. But Gomez scored easily, 1-0 Brewers. Wood retired Lucroy on a pop out to Valbuena at second base to end the inning. Wood threw 23 pitches, 14 for strikes, in the first inning.

The Brewers went right back to work against Wood in the second after Estrada retired the Cubs in order in the top half. Khris Davis led off with a single to left. Mark Reynolds just missed a home run when he flied out to Bonifacio in deep left center. Rickie Weeks smoked a 0-1 pitch past Olt and into left field. The ball appeared to hit the lip of the grass and took a wicked hop past Olt’s face and into left. With runners on first and second with one out, Marco Estrada popped a bunt up into foul territory behind home plate. Welington Castillo made an excellent diving catch for the second out. Wood walked Carlos Gomez to load the bases. Jeff Bianchi drove Wood’s first pitch to right. Davis and Weeks scored, 3-0 Brewers. Wood caught Braun looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning … 48 pitches for Wood after two innings, 23 for strikes.

The Brewers took the 3-0 lead into the fourth inning.

Marco Estrada retired the first nine batters he faced on Saturday night with five strikeouts, and struck out Emilio Bonifacio swinging to start the fourth. Luis Valbuena ended Estrada’s no-hit bid and the shutout with a long homer over the wall in right field, 3-1 Brewers. Rizzo popped out to short and Castro flied out to the wall in right field to end the inning.

The Brewers got the run right back in the home half of the fourth. Mark Reynolds led off the fourth with a bloop single to right. Wood hit Rickie Weeks and walked Marco Estrada when the Brewers’ pitcher was trying to give the Cubs an out. With the bases loaded and no outs, Carlos Gomez hit a grounder toward third that Olt fielded and tried to start an around-the-horn double play. Estrada was forced at second as Reynolds scored, 4-1 Brewers. But Gomez beat the throw to first. And the Brewers had runners on the corners with one out. Jeff Bianchi popped a 1-0 pitch down the first baseline. The ball drifted into foul ground. Valbuena raced over and caught the ball just in front of the side wall. Valbuena threw a strike to the plate and Castillo applied the tag on a sliding Rickie Weeks to end the inning.

The game remained 4-1 Brewers through the fifth and into the bottom of the sixth.

Khris Davis led off the sixth with a big blast. Davis launched a 1-1 pitch from Wood to the upper deck beyond the left field wall … 5-1 Brewers. Mark Reynolds followed with a single to center and Rickie Weeks flied out to deep center for the first out. Wood struck out Estrada swinging for the second out and Renteria finally decided that was enough for Wood. Renteria replaced Wood with Brian Schlitter and Gomez grounded out to third to end the inning.

At the end of six, the Cubs trailed 5-1.

Starlin Castro collected the Cubs’ second hit of the night in the seventh, but that was all. Brian Schlitter put a zero on the board in the home half and the game went to the eighth with the Brewers up 5-1.

Mike Olt led off the eighth with a long single to right. The ball hit off the padding and bounced right to Braun. Olt made the right decision to stay at first. Sweeney popped out to short for the first out. Welington Castillo drove a 2-2 pitch out to right. The ball ended up in the stands and Castillo’s fourth homer of the year, a two-run shot, cut the Brewers lead to 5-3. Junior Lake hit for Schlitter and struck out swinging. Ron Roenicke went to his pen and replaced Estrada with lefty Will Smith. Emilio Bonifacio struck out swinging to end the inning.

Pedro Strop retired the side in order in the eighth … and Francisco Rodriguez made quick work of the Cubs (even with the umps having to check to make sure Jeff Bianchi threw out Starlin Castro at first base for the final out) for the second night in a row to end the game (15 pitches, 10 for strikes).

Jason Hammel faces Wily Peralta in the series finale with the Brewers on Sunday afternoon (1:10pm CDT).

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Quote of the Day

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