Cubs come through late to deny Brewers

Cubs come through late to deny Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Anthony Rizzo smacked a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning and rookies Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber each drove in a run in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night.

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson struck out eight and gave up two hits over seven innings, but the Cubs pounced once he exited. With the Cubs trailing, 2-0, in the eighth, Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler both singled off Jeremy Jeffress, who was then lifted for Will Smith. Smith retired the next two batters before Rizzo launched a 1-1 pitch to right for his 18th home run of the season and third hit of the game.

"The whole night, it wasn't going our way, but I liked the way we were playing," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Eventually, Riz steps up and does what he can do."

The loss came a few hours after Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers were traded to the Astros for four prospects. Gomez, who had been headed to the Mets in a deal late Wednesday until that trade was nixed because of medical concerns, had originally been in Milwaukee's starting lineup.

"Nobody is ever going to forget Carlos Gomez," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He made an impact on the Brewers. I love watching the guy play -- his energy and passion. I'm not sure what to expect every day, but it's really fun watching him play."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Parra stays hot: Outfielder Gerardo Parra, whose name has been heavily involved in trade discussions, ignited the Brewers' offense in the third by extending his hit streak to 14 games with a single to center field. He would later steal second base and score on Jonathan Lucroy's double to left field. Parra is batting .387 in 30 starts in the leadoff spot this season.

Missed opportunities: The Cubs have had trouble coming through in clutch situations, and rank 26th in the Majors in batting with runners in scoring position. They had a chance in the second when Rizzo doubled and moved up on a wild pitch, but Nelson retired the next three batters to end the inning. The right-hander also struck out pinch-hitter Bryant to strand two in the seventh. Bryant did deliver in the ninth with a sacrifice fly for his 60th RBI, tops among all rookies.

Bryant's sac fly

"I've been up there plenty of times and not gotten the job done," Rizzo said of the second inning. "You just turn the page and not get down about it and just keep playing."

Nelson rolls: Nelson retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced between the jams in the second and seventh inning, which included four of his eight strikeouts. The only two Cubs to reach base during that span walked. Nelson lowered his ERA on the season to 3.76 and was part of the reason the Brewers felt confident including Fiers in the Gomez trade.

"I was able to get ahead, for the most part," Nelson said. "When I went 1-0, I was able to make a quality pitch -- getting ahead of the count and expanding off that." More >

Nelson's dominant start

Start me up: Chicago right-hander Jake Arrieta posted his 17th quality start, which ranks among the National League leaders, but did not get a decision. Arrieta struck out six over six innings, scattering five hits. This was his second attempt at winning a career-high 12th game.

"Every once in a while, the other team is going to beat you on that day because they're good, or you're going to have to figure things out on the fly," Arrieta said. "When everything's crisp and your pitches are working, those [games] are easy. ... Tonight was one of those when things weren't as crisp as we'd like. It was good enough to keep us in the game." More >

Arrieta strikes out six

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Rizzo's blast was the first go-ahead homer of his career when trailing in the eighth inning or later, and his 40th career go-ahead home run. He now has 11 home runs against the Brewers, the most against any opponent.

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Right-hander Jason Hammel will make his 20th start on Friday in the second game of this four-game series. He will be hoping to improve on his most recent outing, when he lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies and gave up a season-high six runs. In two starts to open the second half, he has a 7.27 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

Brewers: Rookie Taylor Jungmann will toe the rubber for Milwaukee and look to rebound after a two-run, 33-pitch first inning against the D-backs led to his first loss in his previous four starts. He carries a 1.59 ERA in three outings at Miller Park and has never faced the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.