During the Cubs' red-hot start, their best since the 1907 season, they have led the Major Leagues in run differential, and now have outscored opponents, 221-115. The large cushion has helped the starting pitchers, who began the day with the best ERA in the National League. But in three games prior to Thursday, the Cubs had not scored while the starting pitcher was in the game.
Dexter Fowler tried to reverse that trend with a leadoff home run, hitting Junior Guerra's second pitch over the right-field wall. But Guerra recovered and struck out a career-high 11 batters.
"It's disappointing to come in here and lose two of three," said Chicago starter Jason Hammel, who lost his first game of the season on Thursday and also his first in 12 career starts against Milwaukee. "You can't win all of them, I know that."
Hammel had given up one home run in his first seven starts, but served up two to the Brewers.
"Both of them were sliders that stayed up," Hammel said of the solo shot by Chris Carter in the fourth and the two-run blast by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the sixth. "On Nieuwenhuis, that's my fault. It was bad pitch selection. Spin coming into him is something he can handle, and we were trying to go under with it, and it stayed up. Our recipe that we had used in the previous two games, there's no reason to try to go in there.
"It wasn't a terrible outing," Hammel said. "Two bad pitches, and that's really all you can do."
Give the Brewers credit. They not only pitched well, but their defensive alignments in the series will also give advance scouts something to think about regarding the Cubs.
"They were very close games, and they never gave in to us," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the series. "We had good at-bats the first two nights. Today, they got us and out-pitched us. Give them credit. They're playing really well, and they hurt us on defense and they hurt us on the mound."
Maddon isn't going to shake up the lineup or ask the players to try to do any more. Despite the loss, the Cubs have gone 23-5 in their last 28 regular-season road games. The starting pitchers have finished the fifth inning in every game this year.
"You're not going to win them all, despite feeling like you can," Maddon said. "You're just not going to win them all."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.