CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez hit a solo home run in the second and a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth to lift the Brewers to a 5-3 victory Sunday over the Cubs and their first series win of the season.
Ramirez spared the Brewers from letting an eighth-inning rally slip away. Cubs reliever Pedro Strop had loaded the bases with nobody out when he struck Brewers shortstop Jean Segura in the head with a fastball, but recovered to induce a 5-2-3 double play from Ryan Braun.
"Strop was really upset at that moment but he did right himself," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm proud of him coming back and getting the double play against a really good hitter and making a pitch [to Ramirez] that just found some grass -- nothing you can do about it. I loved the fight in the group. You've just got to keep plugging away."
After an intentional walk to Adam Lind, Ramirez came through with a broken-bat single over third base to break a tie that had stood since the fifth inning.
Ramirez agreed with Maddon's strategy. Strop had not been charged with a run in his first 12 appearances while limiting right-handed batters to one hit in 21 at-bats.
"That's the right move," Ramirez said. "I mean, Lind has been hot all year. The guy is hitting over .300, I'm hitting .220. That's a no-brainer. … It was the right move, it just didn't work out."
It gave the Brewers their first back-to-back wins this season, and their first series victory. The Brewers had not gotten this deep into a season without taking a series since 1972.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
(Hitter)-Friendly Confines: With the temperature sitting at 78 degrees and a stiff wind blowing straight out to center field, it looked like a hitters' day at Wrigley Field. Ramirez took advantage in the second inning when he hit a long solo home run to the construction zone that is the left-field bleachers. It was Ramirez's third homer of the season and his first since missing two games this week with a tight hamstring. When he came through again in the eighth, Ramirez had his second multi-RBI game of the season.
"I've been swinging the bat well the last week or so," Ramirez said. "I worked hard. Struggled in the beginning, but I think I'm starting to turn it around." More >
Another Segura scare: The Brewers' season is only 25 games old, and Segura has already endured two beanings. On April 7, a pitch from Rockies starter Jordan Lyles glanced off the bill of Segura's helmet and struck his face. On Sunday, Segura squared to bunt a Strop fastball and could not avoid being hit on the helmet again. He briefly appeared well enough to stay in the game, but after going to first base, he was replaced by a pinch-runner. More >
Hammel time: Cubs starter Jason Hammel had not given up a run in his two previous starts vs. Milwaukee and was charged with three over six plus innings this time. He did not get a decision, and remained unbeaten against the Brewers in seven career starts. The right-hander helped himself, hitting a sacrifice fly in the second. It was his first RBI of the season and 11th of his career.
"The sac fly was nice but I gave [the lead] right back," Hammel said. More >
Jimmy in the swing: Brewers pitchers were hitless in their last 37 at-bats since a Kyle Lohse single on Opening Day before Jimmy Nelson delivered a third-inning double against the Cubs. It was Nelson's fourth hit in his 30th Major League at-bat, and he promptly scored his second career run on a Carlos Gomez single for a 2-1 Brewers lead. Nelson was also effective on the mound, allowing three runs in 6 1/2 innings for his team-best third quality start. More >
Near misses allow Cubs to tie: Brewers defenders found the spotlight as the Cubs tied the game at 3-3 in the fifth. Anthony Rizzo made it 3-2 with a triple that got over Carlos Gomez's head in center field after Gomez took an awkward route, and Kris Bryant knotted the game with a bloop double that popped out of second baseman Elian Herrera's glove. Gomez saved further damage when he made a nice running catch of Miguel Montero's line drive to the left-center field gap.
"To let them back in the game like that, it would have been a tough loss," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
"This is a good test. We've got to win these games. To be the best, you've got to beat the best. [The Cardinals] are hot and we're going into their territory. We'll find out what we're made of in the series." -- Hammel, on upcoming four-game series in St. Louis
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Brewers were on an 11-series losing streak dating to last season before taking two of three this weekend from the Cubs.
Miguel Montero extended his hitting streak to five games and is batting .382 (13-for-34) with three homers, four walks, seven RBIs and four multi-hit games since April 18.
Brewers: For the first time since the season-opening series, the Brewers will see a non-divisional opponent when the Dodgers arrive at Miller Park on Monday to open a four-game series. Lohse will make his sixth start of the season and the 400th start of his Major League career beginning at 6:20 p.m. CT.
Cubs:Travis Wood opens the Cubs' four-game series against the Cardinals on Monday. The lefty is on a roll with a 2-0 record and 2.37 ERA over his last three starts. In 16 career outings against the Redbirds, Wood is 5-6 with a 5.18 ERA. First pitch was scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.