CHICAGO -- The Brewers entered Thursday knowing they would face Jake Arrieta, knowing all eyes would be on the Cubs' dominant right-hander and knowing he was trying to join Johnny Vander Meer as the second Major League pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters.
In a 7-2 loss at Wrigley Field, Milwaukee walked 11 batters, made two errors and couldn't get timely hits. But it did end any potential no-hitter drama early when shortstop Jonathan Villar led off the game with a broken-bat single to left field.
In the fifth inning, Villar again singled with two outs and stole second base. Alex Presley came up and improved to 3-for-7 in his career against Arrieta, hitting a double down the right-field line that ended Arrieta's home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings.
"I didn't even know, honestly," Presley said. "I knew he had been pitching well across the board … but that's a pretty unbelievable stretch."
On a day the Brewers didn't have much to brag about, they can say they got to Arrieta as much as anyone has recently. Arrieta struggled with his command and left the game after five innings and 92 pitches. The Brewers had only three hits against him, but it was Arrieta's shortest start since June 16 of last season. It also ended a stretch of 24 consecutive quality starts.
"They were patient early -- to either get my pitch count up or make me come into their zone," Arrieta said. "It wasn't sharp, but we got the job done."
Villar proved to be the lone bright spot for the Brewers, going 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. He also stole three bases and tied his career highs for hits and steals.
"It's always nice when somebody's on base, especially a guy on base who attracts attention from the pitcher," Presley said. "He definitely can take the pitcher's attention away."
But the Brewers stranded the bases loaded in the first inning and never recovered. The Cubs poured on their offense as walks and errors plagued the Brewers in the middle innings.
And against Jake Arrieta, that's not a winning recipe.
"You have to be pretty perfect to beat those guys, those top-of-the-rotation guys," manager Craig Counsell said. "You've got to be perfect. Not perfect, but do good things in all areas of the game."
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.