MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs hit four home runs but needed 90 feet of hustle from Kris Bryant for a 7-6 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Friday.
Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro all cleared the fences against a Milwaukee pitching staff that has been allowing home runs at a record rate. But it was the Brewers' sloppy defense and Bryant's ninth-inning infield single -- a groundout converted to a run-scoring hit upon review -- that allowed closer Hector Rondon and the Cubs to hold on.
"That stuff 'under the hood' really matters a lot, and we did a lot of 'under the hood' kind of good stuff tonight," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's what we need to do to win. Now, we need to get our bullpen in order and then we can take off. If we keep playing with this kind of effort nightly, I'll accept it."
Ryan Braun's three-run home run off Rondon in the bottom of the ninth inning brought the Brewers back to within a run. They eventually put the tying and go-ahead runners on base for Gerardo Parra, who struck out swinging to end the game.
"There was a moment. You could feel the momentum favoring our side." said Brewers left fielder Khris Davis, who had four hits, finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in three runs. "I thought we were really going to pull through and upset it, but we just fell flat."
Cubs starter Jason Hammel improved to 6-0 lifetime against the Brewers and 4-0 at Miller Park after working seven quality innings, while the Brewers fell to 9-21 this season and matched their 2002 club for the worst 30-game start in franchise history.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Strop stops rally: In the eighth, Cubs setup man Pedro Strop came on with runners on first and second with two outs and promptly gave up an RBI double to Davis to cut the lead to 5-3. After an intentional walk to Parra loaded the bases, Strop struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
Brewers fumble: After Castro's homer pushed the Cubs' lead back to three runs in the top of the ninth inning, Addison Russell extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single to third base. Milwaukee third baseman Elian Herrera threw wildly to first base for one error, and second baseman Scooter Gennett's return throw to the infield rolled all the way past third base for another error. With Russell on third, Bryant hustled for his run-scoring infield hit, which was originally ruled an inning-ending groundout to shortstop. It took just more than two minutes to determine he was safe, giving the Cubs a critical run and a 7-3 lead.
"That's a part of the game that I can control," Bryant said. "No matter how bad the game's going, you can always run hard and play as hard as you can. That's the way I've always played and it turned out helping the team today."
Said Brewers manager Craig Counsell: "In hindsight, I don't know how that game would have turned out. But we made mistakes in the top of the ninth that cost us runs."
Homer-happy: Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson set a career high with 11 strikeouts -- his relievers tallied four more -- but when Soler connected against Nelson in the fourth inning, it marked the fifth time in the last 10 games that Brewers pitchers surrendered at least three home runs. In all, the Brewers lead the Majors in serving-up long balls -- 46 in 30 games, a pace for 248 over a 162-game season. The Major League record is 241 home runs, allowed by the 1996 Tigers.
Out at the plate: Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan helped prevent what could have been a big first inning after the Brewers tied it at 1. With runners on first and second and two outs, Parra singled to left with Milwaukee's fourth hit of the inning. Brewers third-base coach Ed Sedar waved slow-footed Adam Lind around, but he was easily thrown out at home by Coghlan without a relay to end the inning.
"Fifteen punch [outs], four homers. Rock 'n' roll." -- Maddon, on the Cubs' all-or-nothing night at the plate
"Obviously, it was a great comeback … but it's disappointing. We continue to make not the physical errors, but the mental errors. Those are the things we need to avoid in order to get back to playing consistently winning baseball." -- Braun, referring to the Brewers' critical mistakes in the top of the ninth inning
Cubs: Miller Park has not been kind to Travis Wood, who is 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA in four career starts there. This season Wood has been far more effective at home, going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, compared with 0-1 and a 7.36 ERA in three road starts.
Brewers: With 400 Major League starts in the books, Kyle Lohse will make No. 401 on Saturday night against the Cubs, a team that has given him relative trouble in his career. Lohse is 7-7 with a 4.88 ERA against Chicago in 23 career starts. His first pitch is at 6:10 p.m. CT.