Cubs no match for Guerra in 5-3 loss to the Brewers
May. 19, 2016
MILWAUKEE (AP) — After losing two of three, the Chicago Cubs still have the best record in the majors and no panic.
Junior Guerra struck out a career-high 11, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Chris Carter homered and the Milwaukee Brewers slowed the Cubs with a 5-3 victory Thursday.
"Their guy today, Guerra, pitched really, really well," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "They had a bunch of punchouts. We hadn't been swinging and missing like that in bit. So, you got to give them credit. He had a really good splitter going on."
Chicago, a big-league best 28-11, has lost three times in a four-game span for the first time this season. The Cubs scored seven runs in the three-game series.
"They hurt us on defense and they hurt us on the mound," Maddon said.
Jason Hammel (5-1) had been 8-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 11 career starts against the Brewers, but he allowed four runs and five hits in six innings.
"I felt pretty good," Hammel said. "Home runs on hanging sliders; hanging sliders leave the yard. That's about it."
Making his first start against Chicago, Guerra (3-0) used his split-finger fastball to his advantage. He gave up Dexter Fowler's 15th career leadoff homer but settled down to allow three runs and five hits in seven innings.
"They just beat us," Maddon said. "We had opportunities, but we could not cash in."
Maddon dismissed any notion that his team takes weaker opponents lightly.
"Padres got us. The Rockies got us. Now, these guys got us," he said. "That's something that has to go away."
Miguel Montero, in an 0-for-20 slide, had an RBI single in the second, but Nieuwenhuis scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half and Carter, in a 4-for-23 slump, tied the score with his 12th homer, a leadoff drive in the fourth.
"Not bad, just the home run, obviously," Maddon said of Hammel's 92-pitch effort. "Nieuwenhuis, that's what put them on top. Overall, they didn't beat him up. The home run was the big play. I know he'd like to have that pitch back."
Nieuwenhuis hit the two-run homer in the sixth, and Montero cut the gap to 4-3 in the seventh when he tripled and came home on Guerra's wild pitch.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said that a split-finger fastball is a rare pitch.
"You don't see it that much, certainly from starting pitchers," Counsell said. "You see it from the bullpen a little bit but we don't see it much in the game."
Guerra mixed in his other pitches to keep the Cubs guessing.
Tyler Thornburg got his first big league save, walking his first two batters before striking out Javier Baez, retiring Fowler on a flyout and fanning Jason Heyward.
Hernan Perez had an RBI single against Trevor Cahill in the eighth.
Ben Zobrist walked in the sixth and has reached safely in 25 games since April 18.
CUBS ROLLING ON
The Cubs have gone 23-5 in their last 28 regular-season road games and moved to 16-3 when scoring first. Chicago is now 66-66 at Miller Park.
Cubs: Maddon wasn't concerned about having to play less than 13 hours after Wednesday's 2-1, 13-inning win, which took 5 hours. "When you win a game like that, you'll find some energy the next day," he said. ... Rizzo was in the starting lineup after being replaced in the ninth inning Wednesday, after he was hit by a Jeremy Jeffress pitch. Maddon said inserting pinch-runner Javier Baez was strategic.
Brewers: LF Ryan Braun missed his second consecutive game with back stiffness. He had back surgery in the offseason and the team has been cautious with his health. The 32-year-old has gotten periodic days off for rest. Counsell said that Braun's right wrist, which kept him out of two games over the weekend, was fine. ... RF Domingo Santana was scratched due to right shoulder soreness and replaced by Ramon Flores. ... RHP Matt Garza (right lat), who has yet to play this season, threw his first bullpen session.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta (7-0, 1.29 ERA) is to open a three-game series Friday at San Francisco and RHP Jake Peavy (1-4, 7.43). Chicago has won each of Arrieta's last 21 regular-season starts.
Brewers: RHP Wily Peralta (2-4, 7.30) is slated to pitch Friday at the New York Mets and LHP Steven Matz (5-1, 2.86).