Game Ninety-Five – Cubs 5, Brewers 2
WP – Jason Hammel (9-5) LP – Jimmy Nelson (6-8) Save – Hector Rondon (17)
Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup Friday night and was the difference in the game. Fowler led off the game with a home run, doubled in a pair in the second inning and scored the Cubs’ fourth run on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo later in the second. The Cubs added an insurance run in the eighth on a single from Miguel Montero and took the opener of the weekend series from the Brewers.
In a game that featured several strange plays early on, the Cubs took advantage of the Brewers mistakes. The Cubs scored four runs in the first two innings before the offense struggled again with runners in scoring position.
As Joe Maddon says to Dexter Fowler before every plate appearance, “You go, we go.” And that’s exactly what happened Friday night at Miller Park.
Dexter Fowler (3-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored and three RBI) had three hits, reached base four times, had three RBI and scored two runs. Fowler put the Cubs on the board in the first inning. Fowler led off the game and launched a 3-1 pitch from Jimmy Nelson out to center. Fowler’s fourth leadoff home run of the season and 17th of his career put the Cubs up one to nothing.
Addison Russell (2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored) reached on an error by Jimmy Nelson to start the second. Russell hit a chopper back to the mound. Nelson fielded the ball, but did not set his feet. Nelson’s throw was up the first base line and Russell ended up a second on the first mistake of the inning. Miguel Montero (1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI) walked.
Jason Hammel (1-for-3) dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to the third base side of the mound. Nelson did not pick the ball up, actually jumped over it, and Hernan Perez’s throw was late to first. With the bags loaded, Dexter Fowler drove a 3-1 pitch down the third baseline. Russell and Montero scored, 3-0 Cubs.
Kris Bryant (1-for-5) hit a grounder to Gennett in the shift at short. Fowler broke for third. Hammel then broke for home and was tagged out. Bryant went to second on the play.
Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4 with a sac fly RBI) lifted a 0-1 pitch to left center. Fowler tagged and scored, 4-0 Cubs. The offense went cold after the second inning and could not cash in the scoring opportunities they had. The Cubs finished the night 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
Miguel Montero delivered a big insurance run in the eighth with a single to right that plated Willson Contreras (0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored).
Jason Hammel had a good outing with excellent fastball command in the first three innings. Hammel started elevating and missing his spots in the fourth and the Brewers scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Ryan Braun put the Brewers on the board with a solo homer in the fourth. The Brewers cut the Cubs lead to two runs in the fifth after Hammel issued a leadoff walk to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. It seems like every walk issued over the last month by a Cubs starting pitcher has scored and that was the case in the fifth inning. Hernan Perez followed the free pass with a double to left that allowed Nieuwenhuis to score all the way from first base.
Hammel got out of the fifth by retiring the next three batters in order (Ramon Flores, Andy Wilkins and Jonathan Villar). Hammel started the sixth but was lifted after Scooter Gennett led off with a double and Ryan Braun due up representing the tying run.
Carl Edwards Jr. replaced Hammel in the sixth and was electric. Edwards Jr. did not allow the Brewers to score. Edwards Jr. retired Braun on a grounder to short. With Gennett at third base, Edwards Jr. struck out Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter swinging to end the inning.
Jason Hammel gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Hammel made 76 pitches, 47 for strikes, in five-plus innings.
The Cubs pen was excellent in relief of Hammel. The bullpen completed four scoreless innings and worked around a two-out throwing error by Miguel Montero in the seventh. Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon did not allow a hit over the last three innings.
Rondon retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close out the game. Rondon issued a one-out walk to Jake Elmore. Rondon struck out Hernan Perez swinging for the second out. Ramon Flores flied out to Jason Heyward in deep right for the 27th out.
Not every victory is an oil painting and that was the case on Friday night in Milwaukee.
With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 58-37 on the season.
John Lackey is scheduled to face righty Zach Davies on Saturday night (6:05pm CDT) at Miller Park.