Brewers win but Axford’s streak ends
In a five-hour game filled with clutch plays, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke couldn’t recall everything Corey Hart did.
”He looked good,” Roenicke said. ”A lot of good at-bats. I can’t remember all of them.”
Except for the last one, of course.
Hart hit an RBI single in the 13th inning to give the Brewers an 8-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Hart sent Lendy Castillo’s first pitch back up the middle to end the game after 5 hours, 4 minutes. Castillo (0-1) plunked Rickie Weeks on the left hand and Ryan Braun in the elbow and back before Aramis Ramirez hit a flare single to right to bring Hart to the plate.
”Unfortunately, when Lendy came out, he hit a couple guys to start the inning,” Chicago manager Dale Sveum said. ”It wasn’t in our favor to start with in that inning when he did that.”
Weeks went for an X-ray on the hand and wrist after the game.
”He got hit pretty good,” Roenicke said.
Hart also hit a two-run homer in the ninth to tie it at 7. Vinnie Chulk (1-0) pitched the final two innings for his first victory since Aug. 19, 2007, for San Francisco against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
”It feels good,” Chulk said. ”It’s nice to go out there and have the confidence to go out there and get stuff done.”
The wild game included the end of John Axford’s run of 49 consecutive saves for the Brewers, the fourth-longest streak in major league history.
Axford’s wife, Nicole, went into labor Friday night with the couple’s second child, so the Brewers closer had left Miller Park and was not available after the game. He did leave a handwritten note for the media on his chair at his locker that he signed: ”Love, Ax.”
”I put my wife into contractions with my performance tonight,” he wrote. ”The luck I’ve had in the past didn’t show up tonight. All I can do is begin another streak and keep my head up.”
There were 14 walks by Cubs pitchers, none intentional.
”There was a lot going on,” Roenicke said. ”A lot of really good things, quite a few not-so-good things on both sides. It was an interesting ballgame. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Milwaukee ran out of position players and had to use starter Zack Greinke as a pinch hitter in the 11th with the potential winning run at second. The right-hander hit into an inning-ending double play.
”It was ugly a little bit,” Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of the game.
David DeJesus had a pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Lucroy hit a three-run double as the Brewers responded with four runs in the bottom half.
Milwaukee led 5-4 before Chicago got to Axford for three runs in the ninth. DeJesus hit a tying triple with one out, driving in Ian Stewart and stopping Axford’s streak. DeJesus then scored on a wild pitch that struck out Starlin Castro, but bounced a couple feet in front of home plate, off catcher Lucroy and went back into fair territory.
Alfonso Soriano added an RBI single to give the Cubs a 7-5 lead.
Sveum went to Rafael Dolis to try to close it out, but the rookie walked Ramirez before Hart hit a drive to left on a full-count pitch.
DeJesus’ first career pinch-hit homer gave the Cubs the lead in the seventh, and Chicago’s bullpen gave it right back.
Carlos Marmol walked Braun and allowed an RBI double to Ramirez. He then had a 1-2 count on Hart when he had to leave the game due to a strained right hamstring.
Marmol was to return to Chicago for an MRI, and Sveum said the reliever might have to go on the disabled list.
Michael Bowden then loaded the bases, and Lucroy’s hit gave Milwaukee the lead again.
Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf pitched six scoreless innings, giving up six hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Chicago starter Matt Garza pitched five innings, giving up one run and three hits. He walked five and struck out three. Garza was pitching on 11 days’ rest after missing his last start due to flulike symptoms.
Notes: DeJesus’ first career grand slam was on June 15, 2008, against Arizona when he played for Kansas City. … It was the Cubs’ first pinch-hit grand slam since Mike Fontenot on May 7, 2010, at Cincinnati. … Castro has a 10-game hitting streak. … Axford’s streak only counted regular-season games. He did blow a save in Game 5 of the NL division series against Arizona last year. … The record for consecutive saves is 84 by Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Aug. 28, 2002, to July 3, 2004. Tom Gordon is second with 54 games and Jose Valverde is third with 50 games.