Brewers struggle against Arrieta, lose 4-0 to Cubs
CHICAGO (AP) — Jake Arrieta isn’t easy to hit and he’s even more difficult to score runs against. It’s a reality the Milwaukee Brewers became the latest team to discover Tuesday night.
Arrieta threw a three-hitter to become the first pitcher in the major leagues to reach 20 wins, Kris Bryant set the Cubs rookie record for home runs and Chicago inched closer to a playoff berth with a 4-0 victory over the Brewers.
Arrieta (20-6) struck out 11 for Chicago, whose magic number for making its first postseason in seven years dropped to three. The right-hander retired 14 straight at one point in becoming the first Cubs pitcher to win 20 games since Jon Lieber in 2001.
Scooter Gennett led off the game with a double, representing the only runner the Brewers put into scoring position all night. But outside of singles by Hernan Perez in the fifth and by Khris Davis in the seventh, the Brewers couldn’t touch the Cubs ace.
“It’s luck basically when you do (hit him),” Davis said. A lot of guys miss him — you just can’t miss.”
Bryant, whose April 17 debut was one of the most anticipated in years, hit a two-run homer in the third off Tyler Cravy (0-8) to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. It was Bryant’s 26th homer, besting Hall of Famer Billy Williams’ mark in 1961. Bryant added a run-scoring double in the eighth.
Cravy went four innings and allowed two runs and three hits for the Brewers, who lost their 10th in 11 games and who were shut out for the 15th time this season. Leaving a fastball out over the plate for Bryant proved to be Cravy’s biggest undoing.
“At this point in the season, (Bryant’s) pretty much going to capitalize on a miss every time,” Cravy said. “He got me tonight.”
Kyle Schwarber was credited with an RBI double in the fifth when shortstop Jean Segura couldn’t catch his high popup to short right field, allowing Dexter Fowler to score.
But Tuesday belonged to Arrieta, who added another accomplishment to a fine season that included a no-hitter Aug. 30 at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite his dominating performance, Arrieta said he felt off in his complete-game victory. But he moved the Cubs closer to their first playoff berth since 2008.
“I’ve alluded to it before but (pitching well) just means that I’m putting my team in positions to win ballgames,” Arrieta said. “At the end of the day that’s our goal, is to try and pile on as many as we can especially with where we’re at in the season.”
By beating Milwaukee, he became the first Chicago pitcher since Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in 1971 to win at least 20 games and strike out at least 200 in a season. He lowered his ERA to 1.88, giving him a chance to become the Cubs’ first qualifying starter with a sub-2.00 ERA since Grover Cleveland Alexander had a 1.91 mark in 1920.
The Brewers needed no convincing of how well Arrieta is pitching, placing himself among the favorites for the NL Cy Young Award.
“He’s as tough as there is right now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
The Brewers wasted little time in filling out their roster with Double-A call-ups Tuesday. After the Brewers Double-A affiliate in Biloxi, Mississippi, dropped the deciding Game 5 of the Southern League championship Monday night, INFs Yadiel Rivera and Tyler Wagner were recalled while the contracts of RHP Yhonathan Barrios, RHP Adrian Houser, RHP Jorge Lopez and OF Michael Reed were all selected by the big league club.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun (back) took batting practice but remained out of the lineup. Counsell didn’t rule out Braun playing again this season. ... C Jonathan Lucroy (concussion) is getting closer and could see time at first base, but he will not catch for the remainder of the season. ... RHP Jimmy Nelson (head contusion) was placed on the 60-day DL, and RHP Michael Blazek (broken right hand) was transferred to the 60-day DL.
Cubs: INF Addison Russell didn’t start but manager Joe Maddon said it was to rest him. He entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh.
Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 4.22) faces Milwaukee RHP Zach Davies (1-2, 6.00). Hendricks has gone 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA in four starts against the Brewers.