Nieuwenhuis' leaping grab starts highlight reel

Center fielder robs Bryant at wall to back Anderson's gem

Nieuwenhuis' leaping grab starts highlight reel

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers didn't supply just one signature defensive play as Chase Anderson chased a no-hitter on Tuesday. They gave him three.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Aaron Hill and Jonathan Villar each flashed leather in the early innings of the Brewers' 4-2 win at Miller Park, keeping the Cubs at bay while Anderson, who didn't allow a hit until the eighth inning, settled into one of the best starts of his career.

"The first couple innings, they had some hard-hit balls," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, "but after that, really, it was a lot of what Chase is good at: Popups, fly balls and things like that. The defense certainly helped him out, especially the first time through the order."

Counsell on the win

Here's a look at each of the Brewers' gems:

First inning, two outs, Kris Bryant batting
The loudest of Anderson's 26 outs came three batters into the game, when Bryant hit a pitch 116 mph off the bat to the deepest part of Miller Park. Nieuwenhuis gave chase before making a leaping catch at the wall, ending the inning.

Did the center fielder pull back a home run or rob an extra-base hit? After the game, Nieuwenhuis still wasn't sure.

"It was really, really close," he said. "It's hard to tell, because my momentum was carrying me that way, too. I'm not sure."

Second inning, no outs, Anthony Rizzo batting
This one was more a case of terrific defensive positioning. The Brewers rank third in the Majors behind the Astros and Rockies in employing infield shifts, and it helped them when Rizzo hit a hard line drive to the right of second base leading off the second inning.

Hill, the Brewers third baseman who often plays on that side of the bag for left-handed hitters, was right there to make a catch as he hit the dirt.

"I feel like we've done a good job, and there have been times [the shift] worked out," Hill said. "There have also been times it hasn't, and those tend to get magnified because a dribbler gets through or whatever. We're doing shifts because the percentages say that's where the ball goes."

Third inning, no outs, Javier Baez batting
Back in his usual position at third base, Hill was playing on the edge of the grass in case Baez dropped a bunt. Instead, Baez hit a grounder that caromed off Hill's glove to shortstop Villar, who alertly grabbed the baseball and threw it to first for the out.

"That was awesome," Hill said. "You look back and he's right there, that's awesome. It's too bad [the no-hit bid] didn't go the other way, because you see plays like that when guys take no-hitters late in games. Of course, it didn't work out, but [Anderson] must be so happy with the way he pitched."

Anderson takes no-no into 8th

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.