Triple effect: Russell's big hit propels Cubs

Triple effect: Russell's big hit propels Cubs

CHICAGO -- Addison Russell smacked a tiebreaking, two-run triple with two outs in the sixth inning and Anthony Rizzo drove in his team-leading 22nd run with a double to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night. With the win, the Cubs improved to 15-5, their best start since the 1907 team began 16-4.

The cold and Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson helped to stymie the Cubs, who began the night averaging 6.26 runs per game, tops in the Majors.

With the game tied at 1 in the Chicago sixth, Kris Bryant reached on a fielding error by third baseman Aaron Hill. One out later, Ben Zobrist walked to chase Nelson, and Carlos Torres got Jorge Soler to fly out to right. Russell then tripled into the gap in right-center, and now has 10 RBIs in his last 12 games.

"He's not afraid of that moment," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Russell. "He hits that gap in big moments, that right-central gap. … A big part of what you're seeing now is that he's swinging at better pitches."

Russell breaks down victory

The Brewers' bench got its hopes up for all of a few seconds in the ninth, when Hill blasted a ball to deep left field with two outs and a runner on. With the cold wind blowing in, the ball turned into a game-ending out at the warning track.

"That ball, it seemed like it was behind the fence and it came back," Brewers center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis said. "I thought it was gone."

Both starting pitchers, Nelson and Chicago's Kyle Hendricks, wore short sleeves despite a game-time temperature of 40 degrees, which felt more like 34 because of the brisk 16-mph northerly wind. Some players tucked hand warmers into their pockets, some wore balaclavas, and many stayed close to the heaters in the dugout. Cubs closer Hector Rondon, who picked up his fourth save, said he couldn't feel his hands.

Rondon retires Hill to end game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Costly error:
Hill booted a slow-hit ball from Bryant to start the sixth, helping create what eventually turned into a big inning for the Cubs. It was the first error of the season for Hill, who has primarily been a second baseman for most of his career.

"It's a play he makes," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's been real good. I think he got his feet a little bit tangled up."

Start me up: Hendricks expected to go deeper in the game but was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. The Cubs had two on and nobody out against Nelson, and both runners advanced on David Ross' sacrifice bunt. Hendricks, who had thrown 69 pitches at that point, was pulled for pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella, who drew a walk to load the bases. Chicago then tied the game on Dexter Fowler's sacrifice fly, but Nelson escaped further damage when he got Jason Heyward to ground out.

Hendricks lifted for La Stella

"There was no reason to take him out," Maddon said of lifting Hendricks at that point. "It was a National League moment entirely right there, it's a National League move with the wind blowing in your face. … I really commend him for getting it."

Said Hendricks: "I completely understand. I prepare myself to go deep in the games, but sometimes situations happen like that."

Hendricks gets Hill looking

Wrecking Wrigley: Ryan Braun started the game on the bench for a day of rest, but he took advantage of his lone at-bat. Braun came in to pinch-hit in the eighth and hit a two-run double to right field. Braun has 49 RBIs in 59 games at Wrigley Field. He also is hitting .536 (15-for-28) with runners on base this season.

"Braun is so good," Maddon said. "He comes off the bench and finds the one spot where nobody is standing and keeps it fair."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Chicago's Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double in the seventh, and now has 22 RBIs, his highest total for a calendar month in his career. His previous best was 21, set in August 2015. It's the best by a Cubs player through the first 20 games of the season since Hall of Famer Billy Williams drove in 26 in 1970.

Rizzo's RBI single

REPLAY REVIEW
Javier Baez was called out trying to steal second base in the Chicago seventh. The Cubs challenged the call, and after a review, it was overturned and Baez was safe.

"The swim move -- it's the Jim Edmonds swim move," Maddon said of the way Baez reached for the base. "It's now the Javy Baez swim move."

Baez steals second base

INJURY REPORT
Cubs catcher Miguel Montero was scratched from Tuesday's game because of a stiff back, and his status was day to day. Ross started in place of Montero.

The Brewers also had a late scratch, with second baseman Scooter Gennett pulled from the lineup due to a tight right oblique that he felt during batting practice. Counsell said postgame that Gennett will be examined Wednesday.

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Right-hander Taylor Jungmann gets the start and will look for his first quality start of the season Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. Jungmann is 0-3 with an 8.47 ERA so far this year.

Cubs: Wednesday will be Jake Arrieta's first start since throwing his second career no-hitter. What will he do for an encore? Arrieta has yet to throw a no-no at Wrigley Field.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

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