Game Thirty-Nine – Cubs 3, Brewers 5
WP – Junior Guerra (3-0) LP – Jason Hammel (5-1) Save – Tyler Thornburg (1)
The Cubs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Thursday afternoon. The Brewers scored four unanswered runs off Jason Hammel, three on a pair of home runs. The Cubs had the tying runs on base in the eighth and ninth innings but could not come up with a clutch hit. And the Cubs lost the series at Miller Park to the Brewers.
The Cubs continued to struggle against a team with a record below .500. The Cubs had plenty of chances to put runs on the board and finished the game 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight men on base.
The Cubs struck out 15 times Thursday, 11 against Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra. Every position player that entered the game for Joe Maddon struck out at least one time.
Dexter Fowler (1-for-5 with a home run) gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead when he led off the game with a solo home run. The Cubs added a run in the second after Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) doubled and scored on a Miguel Montero (2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, a run scored and a RBI) single. Montero tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh.
The Cubs left four runners on base, three in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings. Jorge Soler struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch with the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position in the eighth. And Jason Heyward (0-for-5) struck out swinging to end the game with the tying runs on base.
Jason Hammel allowed one home run in his first seven starts and served up two Thursday. Three of the Brewers’ four runs off Hammel scored on two longballs, one by Chris Carter and the other, a two-run shot by Kirk Nieuwenhuis that was the difference in the game. The Brewers first run of the game was a gift that scored on a wild pitch after a Montero throwing error put Nieuwenhuis at third with one out in the second inning.
Hammel’s three mistakes Thursday was too much for the Cubs to overcome against a Brewers’ team that put together their best ball of the season over a three-game stretch.
Jason Hammel gave up four runs, all earned, on five hits (two home runs) and two walks with seven strikeouts. Hammel made one very costly wild pitch and threw 92 pitches in six innings, 60 for strikes.
Here’s how Thursday’s game played out …
The Cubs jumped on Junior Guerra in the first inning. Dexter Fowler started the game with a homer to right on Guerra’s second pitch of the game. After Heyward went down swinging and Bryant grounded out to short, Anthony Rizzo walked. Ben Zobrist flied out to deep left to end the inning.
Jason Hammel pitched a 1-2-3 first inning on 11 pitches, seven for strikes. And after one complete, the Cubs led 1-0.
Jorge Soler started the second with a double to left. Russell struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) on a high fastball. Guerra pitched to Miguel Montero and he singled to left. Soler scored and the Cubs went up 2-0. Hammel could not get a bunt down and fouled off an attempt on a 0-2 pitch for the second out. Montero tried to advance to second on a 2-2 pitch to Fowler in the dirt. Montero was out easily to end the inning.
The Cubs gave the Brewers a run in the bottom of the second. Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled to left center with one out, the Brewers first hit of the game. Hammel did not get the call on a 3-2 pitch to Hernan Perez. Hammel walked him but Montero had to throw to second with Nieuwenhuis running. The ball skipped past Zobrist and Nieuwenhuis ended up a third. The first pitch to Ramon Flores got by Montero. Nieuwenhuis scored on the wild pitch, 2-1 Cubs. With Perez at second after the wild pitch, Flores flied out to right and Maldonado grounded out to third. Hammel made 32 pitches, 21 for strikes, in two innings. And after two complete, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs could not add to the lead in the third or four innings and the Brewers tied the game in the home half of the fourth.
Chris Carter led off the fourth with a booming homer to center and tied the game at two. Hammel did not allow any more damage in the fourth. Hammel retired Nieuwenhuis on a grounder to Rizzo (3-2 pitch). Perez was caught looking for the second out. After a four-pitch walk to Flores, Maldonado flied out to left center on a 2-1 pitch to end the inning.
The game was tied at two after four innings.
The Cubs managed a Jason Hammel single in the fifth and went down in order quickly in the sixth. Hammel took the hill for the bottom of the sixth with the game tied at two.
Scooter Gennett led off the sixth with a single to left. Hammel struck out Carter swinging. Kirk Nieuwenhuis gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead with a home run to right. Perez grounded out to short and Hammel struck out Flores swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
After six complete, the Brewers led 4-2.
Junior Guerra struck out Russell for the third time on the afternoon for the first out in the seventh. Miguel Montero just missed a homer but settled for a triple to center. Tommy La Stella hit for Hammel and went down swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out.
Dexter Fowler fell behind 1-2. Guerra missed on the fourth pitch of the at bat. A 2-2 offering to Fowler got past Maldonado. Montero scored on the wild pitch, 4-3 Brewers. Fowler flied out to left to end the inning.
Justin Grimm and Clayton Richard recorded three outs in the seventh. And the game went to the eighth with the Cubs down 4-3.
The Cubs wasted another scoring opportunity in the eighth inning. Anthony Rizzo walked on four pitches with two outs against Michael Blazek. The Brewers’ reliever wanted nothing to do Rizzo with a one-run lead. Ben Zobrist doubled to left and put runners on second and third with two outs. Jorge Soler looked at three out of the zone. Blazek got one over for a strike. And Soler went down swinging on 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Brewers tacked on to the lead in the eighth.
Clayton Richard started the eighth by giving up another hit to Scooter Gennett. Maddon went to his bullpen for Trevor Cahill. Nieuwenhuis burned the Cubs once again with a deep fly to left. Bryant made an excellent running catch. But the opposite field fly allowed Gennett to tag and advance to second base. Hernan Perez ripped a single into center. Gennett scored, 5-3 Brewers. A wild pitch with Flores at the plate allowed Perez to take second. Maddon had Cahill walk Flores. The Brewers pulled off a double steal with Maldonado at the plate. Cahill did not get the call on a 3-2 pitch to Maldonado and walked him to load the bases. Jonathan Lucroy hit for Blazek and struck out swinging to finally end the inning.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 5-3.
With Jeremy Jeffress unavailable, Tyler Thornburg took the hill for the ninth inning. Thornburg issued back-to-back walks to Russell and Montero to start the inning. Kyle Hendricks ran for Montero at first representing the tying run. Javier Baez stepped in with runners on first and second and no outs. Baez struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) for the first out.
Dexter Fowler worked a full count before launching a ball to deep right center. Flores caught the ball at the wall. Fowler just missed a three-run shot. Russell tagged and went to third. With runners on the corners and two outs, Jason Heyward struck out swinging to end the game.
With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 28-11 on the season.
The Cubs begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday night (9:15pm CDT) … Jake Arrieta versus Jake Peavy in game one by the Bay.