No long ball? No problem.
The Milwaukee Brewers were more than happy to manufacture their offense against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
Wild pitches, errors, hit by pitches – the Brewers took full advantage of all the uncharacteristic sloppiness offered up by their rivals en route to a surprisingly easy 11-1 victory that shaved a game off the Cubs’ Central Division lead for the second consecutive day.
Wade Miley had a big hand in the effort, limiting Chicago’s high-powered offense to a single run in six strong innings as Milwaukee won for the sixth time in seven games and 11th time in its last 15 in tying its high-water mark for the season at 18 games over .500.
The Brewers are now three games back in the division race while maintaining their 1 1/2-game lead in the wild-card chase.
“They have a really good team over there, so when you have a chance to take advantage of miscues by them you’ve got to do it,” said Lorenzo Cain, who drew a career-high four walks, doubled and scored twice.
“I’d say they had an off-night tonight as far as defensively, but overall we know how good they are and we definitely have to bring our A-game tomorrow and hopefully we can go out and get a sweep.”
Chicago actually took the lead against Miley in the second, with Orlando Arcia being unable to handle Willson Contreras’s infield chopper.
BOX SCORE: Brewers 11, Cubs 1
ANALYSIS: Wade Miley has been a different pitcher with Brewers
NOTES: Gio Gonzalez replaces Junior Guerra in starting rotation
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MLB: Live scoreboard, box scores, standings, statistics
But it was all Brewers after that.
They tied it on a Mike Montgomery wild pitch in the bottom of the second, then used sacrifice flies from Erik Kratz and Jesús Aguilar to grab a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
Miley got on a roll in the meantime, retiring 11 consecutive batters after Arcia’s error and 14 of 15. He also recorded nine outs via ground balls and induced 10 overall including Arcia’s error.
He allowed just three hits and the one run while not issuing a walk and striking out five in a 96-pitch outing.
Scoring three runs in both the sixth and seventh put the game out of reach as the Brewers continued to take advantage of some lax Cubs defense and shaky relief pitching.
Chicago committed two errors on the night and its pitchers issued nine walks.
“There were a couple of guys who struggled throwing strikes,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We recognized it quickly and forced them to finish at-bats. We kind of finished at-bats and moved on to the next guy.
“It’s a good recipe for scoring some runs.”
Among the highlights for the Brewers the rest of the way were:
► Yelich reaching base for the 21st consecutive game with a walk in the sixth, extending the longest such active streak in the National League in the process.
► Cain becoming the first Brewer to walk four times in a game since Ryan Braun on May 11, 2012 in the seventh to up his on-base percentage to .404 on the season.
► Yelich driving in two runs with a double one batter later to give him 85 RBI on the season.
► Arcia collecting three hits, including two doubles, and scoring three runs.
— And Jonathan Schoop’s two-run double in the eighth that gave him a game-high three RBI off the bench.
The Brewers have now won five consecutive series and five of their last six against the Cubs with the series finale Wednesday night and then three more games next week at Wrigley Field.
“It’s huge to cut the lead down a little bit,” Cain said. “We understand how good they are, so we want to get as many wins as possible. To come out here and get two early is huge.
“I know we play them four more times, and hopefully tomorrow we come out tomorrow and get a sweep. We’ll see what happens. We’ll have to be ready to go because I know they’ll be ready to go.”
MUST-SEE AT-BATS: Brewers manager Craig Counsell agreed that Christian Yelich’s at-bats have become must-see in recent weeks, with his remarkable offensive exploits.
“He’s had a bunch of moments, like did he just do that? You’re saying to yourself, can he do it again? He keeps doing it. So, it’s fun to watch players like that, great players when they get in those moments. When he’s hitting, you’re thinking something good might happen.”
NO MORE THURSDAY BALL: Beginning Thursday, the Brewers will not play a game on that day of the week for the entire month, barring a makeup of a rainout. That should be a benefit at a time of the year when the schedule takes its toll.
“From our side, we’ve gone through a tough time of the schedule the last week,” Counsell said. “We’ve had some exhausted players the last two days. There is a carryover, both physically and mentally. Sometimes, the energy of these games, you’re glad you’re playing in big atmospheres, because that helps anybody. You can get a little bit of adrenaline and little bit of juice. But we’re at the time of year where fatigue is real. We can all say that.”
PICK YOUR POISON: How much depth do the Brewers have for the stretch run? Enough that Mike Moustakas was on the bench for the second straight day with the Cubs starting another lefty, with Jonathan Schoop joining him.
“We’ve got more players who are accustomed to being in the lineup every day,” Counsell said. “The choices have been difficult the last couple of days. But these are the good problems you want to have, too many choices. This time of year, I expect them to be hard every day. And I’m sure they will continue to be.”
KNEBEL HONORED: Right-hander Corey Knebel has been named the Brewers’ 2018 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. One charity- and civic-minded player from each team is nominated annually for the honor, with the winner announced during the World Series.
“It’s just a good feeling,” said Knebel, who along with his wife Danielle is involved with various children’s and animal charities. “I’m very honored to be nominated for it, and I know my dad is, too. He called me right when it happened and he was pumped.”
WALK THIS WAY: The Brewers’ 10 walk-off victories are the most they’ve recorded in a season since 2010. The total also ties them with the St. Louis Cardinals for most in the major leagues this season.
This year: 79-61
Last year: 72-68
This year: 2,369,346 (34,844 avg.)
Last year: 2,104,448 (30,948 avg.)
Wednesday: Brewers vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Milwaukee RHP Jhoulys Chacín (14-5, 3.53) vs. Chicago LHP José Quintana (11-9. 4.21). TV: FS Wisconsin. Radio: AM-620.