Quintana shuts down Brewers, Cubs head home after 3-0 win
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Chicago Cubs finally get to play at Wrigley Field again.
They are coming home on a high note thanks to another nice outing for Jose Quintana at Miller Park.
The left-hander tossed six innings of three-hit ball, Ben Zobrist homered and the Cubs finished their longest season-opening road trip in more than a century by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Sunday.
Chicago wrapped up a nine-game trip at 5-4. It was the franchise’s longest road trip to open the season since a 12-game jaunt in 1899.
“We need to get some type of stability about us. It’s been a nomadic existence for a while,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon sad. “But I’m really proud of our guys.”
Albert Almora Jr. added an RBI double in the fifth for the Cubs, who took three of four games from their NL Central rivals.
Quintana (1-1) finished off the series by striking out six and walking two. He is 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA in four career starts at the Brewers’ hitter-friendly home.
He said he might be a little lucky in Milwaukee.
An effective curveball sure helps.
His toughest jam came in the sixth after Lorenzo Cain singled and Domingo Santana walked with one out. But after Ryan Braun flied out, Quintana struck out Jesus Aguilar swinging on a 75-mph curve low in the zone.
“All my stuff was working really well, I changed speeds the whole game,” Quintana said.
Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.
Zobrist’s solo shot off the foul pole in right against Chase Anderson (0-1) in the fourth gave the Cubs the only run they would need. The Brewers are scuffling at the plate, having been shut out for the third time during a seven-game homestand.
This isn’t an ideal start for a team that hopes to challenge the Cubs again in the division.
“The greatest teams in baseball go through slumps. Bats get cold, the pitching isn’t throwing the ball the way we want to throw it. It’s April still,” said Anderson, who allowed four hits and two runs over six innings.
Milwaukee also committed an error for the seventh straight contest after pinch hitter Tommy La Stella’s hard bouncer caromed off Aguilar’s chest at first into short right, allowing Victor Caratini to score from second.
The errors “get a little magnified,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Three shutouts in a seven-game homestand, that is probably the surprising thing for me.”
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo missed a third straight game with back tightness. Maddon said Rizzo might miss the Cubs’ home opener on Monday against Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t “overly concerned” after talking to the first baseman and the trainer. “Everything I’m hearing from him and the trainers is that he’s doing ... better, so I don’t think we’re far off,” he said.
Brewers: OF Christian Yelich went on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, four days after one of Milwaukee’s prized offseason acquisitions got hurt during a 6-0 loss to St. Louis. The move was retroactive to Thursday. He was hitting .385 with one homer and five RBIs.
Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser pitched two shutout innings before being optioned back to Double-A Biloxi. It was the right-hander’s only appearance since being called up to replace Corey Knebel after the All-Star closer went on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a strained right hamstring. The Brewers said a corresponding move would be made on Monday.
“We’ve been on the road for a while,” Zobrist said. “Looking forward to that opening day tomorrow, and even though it will be cold, there will be a lot of people excited for that at Wrigley.”
AT THE PLATE
The Brewers’ three shutouts this season have come against three of the toughest pitchers in the division: St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez, and along with the Cubs’ Jon Lester and Quintana.
“We’ve been pitching well. We have got to pick it up offensively, as much as anything,” Counsell said.
Cubs: RHP Tyler Chatwood (0-1) gets the ball for the home opener. He has a 1.50 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates.
Brewers: Jhoulys Chacin (0-1) takes the hill when the team opens a six-game road trip at St. Louis. The right-hander is 0-6 with a 5.89 career ERA against the Cardinals.
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