Thanks to Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura, the first round of anticipated matchups with recently acquired Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel went decidedly in favor of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Yelich and Hiura hit home runs in the 10th inning off Kimbrel to rally the Brewers past Chicago 5-3 on Saturday night, the Brewers’ second consecutive comeback win over the Cubs.
Yelich opened the 10th with his major league-leading 36th homer, tying it at 3. Pinch-hitter Tyler Saladino drew a walk from Kimbrel (0-2) and Hiura followed with his 11th homer, driving a breaking ball the opposite way for his first career walk-off.
“He’s a tremendous pitcher as he’s proven throughout his career. Once the Cubs signed him, we knew that we were going to get a lot of him,” Hiura said of Kimbrel. “He got me in a hole and I was just trying put the ball in play, but able to put the barrel on it.”
Hiura, the Brewers’ first-round draft choice in 2017, had five homers during his first 17-game stint with the Brewers, and his hit six since being called up again on June 28 — one day after the Cubs called up Kimbrel, who was signed as a free agent in early June.
“We came back, they snatched it back and we had a great 10th off Kimbrel and that’s not easy to do,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I thought it was great. Keston’s ball was an absolute laser. That was a breaking ball that was an absolute laser. You don’t see a breaking ball hit like that. It shows you how special he is.”
The Brewers and Cubs are one game behind the NL Central-leading Cardinals.
“Craig had a tough night tonight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They got a bouncer down the first-base line that ties it up, but that happens. We come back. We hold serve, hit a homer and they beat us. That’s called baseball, man. It just happened to night against us. I’m not going to sit here and hammer any of my guys.
Hiura grounded a tying double in the eighth when the Brewers erased a 2-0 deficit. Ben Gamel opened the inning with a pinch-hit homer off Steve Cishek, Lorenzo Cain followed with a double and scored on Hiura’s double.
Albert Almora Jr. had put the Cubs up 3-2 when he opened the top of the 10th with his 11th homer, connecting against Freddy Peralta (5-3).
The Cubs wasted a superb outing by Jon Lester, making his 400th career start, who allowed just four singles over seven scoreless innings.
Anthony Rizzo staked the Cubs to a 2-0 lead with his 21st homer, a two-run shot in the third off Chase Anderson after Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch. Rizzo, who grounded out in the first, entered hitting .048 against Anderson with one hit in 21 career at-bats.
The Brewers briefly appeared to tie it in the sixth when Huira’s drive near the left-field foul pole initially was ruled a home run with Yelich aboard.
“I was watching it and I could tell it was foul,” Hiura said. “That one felt good, though, but it was definitely foul.”
ZOBRIST EYEING RETURN
OF-IF Ben Zobrist, on the restricted list since May 8 to deal with a family matter, has begun the process of returning to the team. “From the beginning, it’s been all about him and his family. It still is. So, whatever he wants to do, whatever he says he wants to do, we’ve been very much in the listening mode,” Maddon said. “Zo is not going to beat around the bush. He’s not going to give you a bunch of smoke screen. He’s going to tell you exactly what’s going on.” Zobrist was hitting .241 in 26 games when he left the team. He hit .305 last season.
Yelich and Hiura each extended their hitting streaks to 15 games. Hiura is hitting .458 with five homers, nine doubles, two triples and 17 RBIs over that span, while Yelich is hitting .407 with five homers and 12 RBIs.
Cubs: IF Daniel Descalso was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 24, with a sprained left ankle. LHP Derek Holland, acquired Friday from San Francisco, was added to the active roster. He got one out in the eighth.
Brewers: The status of LHP Gio Gonzalez, who left Friday night’s game in the seventh inning with shoulder tightness, still is uncertain. “Gio reported today with soreness,” Counsell said. “I don’t think we’re going to have an answer for a couple of days on this one. I think there’s a chance he makes his next start still. He’s not going to throw today anyway. Just get treatment today. As he starts to throw, then we’ll have an idea.”
Cubs: LHP Jose Quintana (8-7, 4.42 ERA) allowed eight runs in three innings in a 13-10 loss at Milwaukee in April. Before that, however, had a 1.55 ERA in six career starts at Miller Park.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (8-3, 3.17 ERA) is coming off his worst start, allowing seven runs in four innings in 14-6 loss vs. Cincinnati. He’s 1-0 vs. Cubs this season, allowing one earned run in 12 innings.
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