Cubs walk off with 3-2 win over Brewers

On a night defined by pitching and defense, the Chicago Cubs had just a bit more, including arguably the catch of the year by first baseman Anthony Rizzo, in a 3-2 walkoff victory in 10 innings over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Miguel Montero hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the 10th for Chicago (64-48). It was his 2nd career walk-off home run and the Cubs’ major-league leading 11th walkoff win of the season. It was the first batter of the game faced by Michael Blazek (5-3, 2.43) who took the loss following a quality performance by two other Milwaukee relievers.

It appeared as though the Cubs had the game in hand, leading 2-1 in the 9th, with closer Hector Rondon, who had converted his last 10 save opportunities, in to pitch. However, Rondon struggled with the meat of the Brewers (48-67) lineup, giving up a hit to Ryan Braun to start the inning. Adam Lind then hit a ball up the middle that shortstop Addison Russell made an errant throw on, putting two Milwaukee runners on with no outs. From there, Rondon was his own worst enemy. One wild pitch allowed the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd, leaving the Brewers a prime chance. Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett couldn’t come up with the clutch hit the Brewers have so desperately looked for this year, each striking out. That left it all up to Jean Segura, who quickly picked up two strikes before Rondon threw yet another wild pitch, allowing the tying run to come home.

The Brewers offense got an early jump off the bat of Ryan Braun. After Shane Peterson and Jonathan Lucroy struck out to start the game, Braun quieted the boo birds at Wrigley Field by launching a home run several rows deep into the left field bleachers.

After a clean inning by Matt Garza in the 1st, the Brewers looked like they were ready to get things going in the 2nd after a leadoff double by Scooter Gennett. Jean Segura laid down a textbook sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at first, but Gennett was too aggressive rounding third and the Cubs were able to pick him off to empty the bases.

Garza showed his first sign of weakness in the bottom of the 2nd. After retiring recent Brewer killer Anthony Rizzo on an infield pop up, Garza served up a no-doubter to Cubs rookie Kris Bryant, who hit a ball just high enough to avoid Ryan Braun’s glove and fall into the right field basket over the ivy-covered wall and tie the game at 1.

Defensive prowess was really on display in the third inning. After Garza and Peterson grounded out, Lucroy hit a rising line drive up the middle that Cubs 2nd baseman Chris Coghlan left his feet to snag. Segura countered in the bottom of the inning with a bullet of a throw to get Addison Russell, who hit a grounder deep in the hole between 2nd and 3rd.

After a relatively quiet fourth, Garza kept rolling into the 5th before his defense let him down. A one-out walk to Miguel Montero prompted a well-executed sacrifice bunt from Hammel. The Brewers had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed when rookie Addison Russell hit a foul fly ball down the first base line near the Brewers bullpen. Both Adam Lind and Scooter Gennett converged on the ball, but neither man appeared to call the other off, pulling up on the play in the final seconds and letting the ball hit the grass. The very next pitch, Russell smacked a sharp RBI single into center, giving Chicago a 2-1 lead.

In the 6th, Rizzo pulled off what many may argue to be the catch of the season.  After a one-out single by Lucroy, first baseman Ryan Braun hit a high fly ball down the right field foul line. Rizzo watched the ball move towards the stands, then jumped on top of the blue ground tarp roll tucked in between first base and the Brewers bullpen and made an incredible catch, his momentum taking him into the stands. The umpire nearest to the play initially called it a foul ball with Rizzo in the stands, but the group conferred and overruled the call, awarding Lucroy second base since Rizzo ended up out of play.

On the mound, both teams’ starters were solid despite not factoring in the decision. Matt Garza threw seven innings of three hit ball, giving up just the two runs. Chicago’s Jason Hammel went 5.1 innings, giving up just one run on four hits.  Will Smith came on in some key situations for the Brewers in the late innings and looked fantastic, striking out three over 1.2 innings. Tommy Hunter (1-0, 6.75), who pitched a clean 10th inning, recorded the win for the Cubs.

The Cubs have now won 8 of 12 in the season series between these two teams. The three game series wraps us Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Tyler Cravy (0-3, 5.40) is scheduled to start for the Brewers against Jon Lester (7-8, 3.22) for the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m.

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