If pitch count weren’t an issue, Kyle Lohse and Jeff Samardzija might still be pitching, as neither offense could do much against them. Fortunately for the Brewers, the Chicago Cubs eventually had to go to their bullpen.
With Samardzija out of the game, the Brewers scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on for a 5-0 win in the opener of a four-game series in Chicago.
“That guy is a fighter,” Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said of Samardzija. “He’s tough. You have to tip your cap to him and get to the bullpen to do what we did today.”
Milwaukee wasn’t able to scratch anything across off James Russell and Matt Guerrier in the eighth inning, but got to Cubs reliever Pedro Strop.
Strop walked Jean Segura to start the inning and Jonathan Lucroy singled to put the Brewers in business. After trying to bunt and then pulling back the bunt and slashing, Carlos Gomez found himself with two quick strikes. The bunt was called off, and Gomez flared a single into center. Taking a chance, Segura took off right away and scored just ahead of the throw to put the Brewers up 1-0.
“Strop is really tough to bunt (off),” Gomez said. “He has a really, really heavy sinker and throws real hard. All those guys that throw like that are really tough to bunt. After I got two strikes, I tried to put it in play or try to beat one out to stay out of the double play.”
Caleb Gindl dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt that Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo fielded and threw late to third base. Juan Francisco struck out with the bases loaded, but Jeff Bianchi came through with a two-run double to right.
“He left a fastball up out over the plate and I was able to drive it to right to score two runs,” Bianchi said. “It was fun tonight.”
After Yuniesky Betancourt struck out looking for the second out, Rickie Weeks flared a double to right to score two more runs and cap the five-run ninth inning.
While he again won’t get a win, Lohse was the reason why the Brewers had a chance to blow open the game in the ninth inning. The veteran right-hander allowed just five hits and struck out six in six scoreless innings, working out of multiple jams created by poor defense behind him.
“He’s done what we’ve hoped he would do,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Lohse.
“He’s done his job. We haven’t supported him that much. It’s too bad. The record with the way he’s pitched should be better.
“The pitching was outstanding today for us. Samardzija was good. I know he scuffled the last game, but when he’s on, he’s really good.”
Gennett coming up: With a scheduled doubleheader looming Tuesday, the Brewers are allowed to add a 26th player to their roster for the day.
The Brewers will call up second baseman Scooter Gennett from Triple-A Nashville as their extra man, adding a player to their shorthanded bench. Gennett is expected to start one of the two games at second base.
Gennett, 23, hit .214 with a home run and five RBI in his first stint with the Brewers this season. He’s hitting .280 with three home runs and 22 RBI in Triple-A this season.