Nieuwenhuis completes Brewers' rally

Nieuwenhuis completes Brewers' rally

MESA, Ariz. -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis smacked a two-run double to highlight a five-run ninth-inning rally and lift the Brewers to a 5-4 victory Friday over the Cubs in front of 15,509 at Sloan Park. Kris Bryant hit an RBI double and Anthony Rizzo followed with a two-run double for the Cubs.

Chicago's Jon Lester scattered two hits over five scoreless innings, striking out two, and didn't have any fielding issues in his third Cactus League start. Cubs closer Hector Rondon had a perfect 1-2-3 seventh.

Lester's five scoreless innings

"I think it looked a lot better than it was," Lester said of his outing. "For me, it definitely wasn't as good as last time, as far as stuff and location, but we kind of masked that pretty well. Sometimes you have starts like that, especially now, you feel like you're going pretty well and then your body lets you know that it's Spring Training and you don't have everything figured out.

"It was good to get up and down five times and face a team that we're going to have a lot of experience with this year," he said of the Cubs' National League Central rivals. "It's good to kind of get a grinder like that out of the way, too."

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Milwaukee's Michael Blazek started in place of Jimmy Nelson, who was ill, and held the Cubs to one hit over two innings. Chris Capuano, who had been scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game, then took over and threw two scoreless innings. Nelson is still on track to start the second game of the regular season.

The Brewers threatened in the fifth when Ramon Flores tripled with one out. Yadiel Rivera then flew out to right, but Jorge Soler made a perfect throw home and Flores stayed put. Pinch-hitter Josmil Pinto then flied out to right to end the inning.

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Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella, slowed this spring by a right calf strain, walked to lead off the Cubs' sixth against Blaine Boyer, and Ben Zobrist singled. One out later, Bryant hit an RBI double, and Rizzo followed with a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.

Bryant's RBI double

The Brewers rallied in the ninth against Clayton Richard, scoring on RBI singles by Tyrone Taylor and Yadiel Rivera, a run-scoring groundout by Eric Young Jr., and Nieuwenhuis' double.

Brewers score five in the 9th

Hernan Perez, Colin Walsh, Rivera, Young and Nieuwenhuis, each of whom contributed to the rally in the ninth, are competing for openings on the Brewers' bench. 

"It was a nice win," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "They're playing it out right to the end. [The Cubs] threw out some good pitchers today, guys they're looking at for their bullpen, and we got to one of them today." 

Up next for Cubs: John Lackey will make his third Cactus League start on Saturday when the Cubs host the Giants at Sloan Park in Mesa. Lackey's last outing was in a Minor League game on Monday when he gave up one hit over six innings. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio.

Up next for Brewers: After a breakout game on Thursday (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI), shortstop Jonathan Villar will continue his prep work on Saturday, when the Brewers host the D-backs at Maryvale Baseball Park. Matt Garza will start for the Brewers in a 3:05 p.m. CT broadcast, live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.