Brewers rally for series-opening win over Cubs on walk-off grounder
MILWAUKEE — Christian Yelich beat out a throw at first to narrowly avoid a double play that allowed the winning run to score in the ninth inning.
Game over, but the jubilant Yelich kept going — and turned across the outfield — before the rest of the happy Milwaukee Brewers finally caught up with him in short left.
Yelich’s fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the ninth allowed Keon Broxton to score from third, and the Brewers opened an important three-game series with the Chicago Cubs with a 4-3 win Monday at Miller Park.
The .315 hitter hit a 1-2 fastball from Jesse Chavez at diving third baseman Kris Bryant, who touched third for the second out of the ninth before firing to first. The speedy Yelich reached safely just before the throw landed in the glove of the outstretched Anthony Rizzo.
“It’s fun,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “They might not be saying the same thing but it was a game with some great plays and a lot of individual efforts.”
The second-place Brewers, looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, pulled within four games of the National League Central-leading Cubs.
The Brewers took advantage of wildness by Cubs reliever Steve Cishek (4-3), who loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batters. It set up the game-winning fielder’s choice by Yelich, the reigning NL Player of the Week.
“I saw him catch it and I saw him go to third, so I just started busting it, man,” said Yelich, who extended his on-base streak to 20 games, the longest active streak in the NL.
The Brewers also got to the Cubs’ bullpen in the eighth inning.
Milwaukee tied the score 3-3 after pinch-hitter Mike Moustakas drew a four-pitch walk with two outs from Carl Edwards Jr. during an at-bat in which home-plate umpire Gabe Morales ejected two Cubs. Manager Joe Maddon got tossed after the count went to 2-0; Edwards got the boot during a pitching change in which he was being lifted anyway.
“It’s borderline. Listen, I’m defending my player there. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong as a manager, but you’ve got to defend your player right there,” Maddon said.
The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hit a two-out, two-run homer off left-hander Josh Hader in the eighth.
Jeremy Jeffress (8-1) got the win after pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
First or home?
Maddon said he was fine with Bryant’s decision to throw to first to try to get Yelich instead of home to get the equally speedy Broxton.
“But it shouldn’t even get to that point. Listen, we played a wonderful game. We walked too many people,” Maddon said.
Broxton said he was ready for a play at the plate, even though Bryant had to dive to make the initial stop.
“I guess he thought he had a better chance to turn a double play,” Broxton said. “But, yeah I’m definitely surprised. I would think he would want to go home with it and try to save the game.”
Rizzo finished 3-for-4, including his 24th homer of the year. It was also the first homer by a left-handed hitter off of Hader.
“Is it really? That’s cool. He’s tough, he is the best, one of the best,” Rizzo said.
From the infirmary
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell went 1-for-3 in making his first start since being activated off the disabled list on Saturday for injuries to his left middle finger and right shoulder. Russell left the game as part of a double switch in the seventh. While Russell did not have a rehab assignment the minors, Maddon said he was working him in as if he were on a rehab assignment. The shortstop entered the previous two games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement.
The Brewers are practically back to full strength for the first time in a while with starter Zach Davies returning. He allowed four hits and a run in five strong innings, striking out seven in his first start since late May after being sidelined with right rotator cuff inflammation.
On Tuesday night at Miller Park, the Cubs will send out left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-4), who is 1-6 with a 5.24 ERA in 14 career appearances against Milwaukee, including five starts.
Wade Miley (2-2), who is 4-2 with a 4.47 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs, will pitch for Milwaukee. Opponents are batting just .234 off the left-hander.