Brewers fall short with runners on vs. Cubs

Crew leaves 12 on base in finale defeat to first-place Chicago

Brewers fall short with runners on vs. Cubs

MILWAUKEE -- On Sunday at Miller Park, the Brewers had plenty of ducks on the pond. It's a good thing ducks can swim, because most of them were stranded.

Milwaukee left 12 on base, 10 of which were in scoring position, in a frustrating 6-5 loss to the Cubs that saw the Crew squandered a four-run lead. Add in the defensive miscues that came back to bite them in the sweltering heat, it was a forgettable afternoon for the Brewers at Miller Park.

"There were a lot of moments in that game," manager Craig Counsell said. "We had some opportunities to add on runs in general, to score runs, and we didn't capture those opportunities."

Those moments came throughout.

After scoring two runs in the first against All-Star Jon Lester, the Brewers loaded the bases for Jake Elmore, who flied out to center to end the threat. A double steal the next inning by Hernan Perez and Ryan Braun put runners on second and third with two outs, but Jonathan Lucroy, who has now driven in a runner from third with less than two outs only 10 out of 34 times, lined out.

The Brewers left the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but that was after an intentional walk of Elmore brought up the pitcher Junior Guerra. Arguably the most costly missed opportunity came in the sixth.

With Milwaukee up 4-1, Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a triple against reliever Joe Nathan, and Perez followed with a walk and then stole second base. Braun watched a fastball go by for strike three and then Lucroy and Carter struck out swinging. After that, things fell apart.

"That's another situation where you can catch yourself pressing too much," said Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who hit a solo homer to bring the Brewers within one run in the ninth. "That will do more harm than good. You just kind of have to dial it back a little bit and simplify things."

Guerra exited with nobody on base after 6 1/3 masterful innings in which he only allowed one unearned run. Will Smith came on and gave up a single to Miguel Montero, who he had struck out in all six of their previous career meetings. Matt Szczur then hit a rocket to Elmore at third that, if fielded cleanly, would have likely been an inning-ending double play. It wasn't, and that opened the floodgates.

"It's hard-hit, but it's also a double-play ball," Counsell said.

The next four batters reached as the Cubs put up a five spot on Smith, who failed to record an out, to take a 6-4 lead by the end of the inning. The Brewers put two more batters in scoring position with one out just minutes later thanks to a Nieuwenhuis walk and Elmore double, but Andy Wilkins struck out and Villar flied out to left to dissipate the rally.

"We just didn't do enough at the end with the defensive miscues and just not moving the line along with contact in some situations hurt us," Counsell said.

By the time the four hour, eight minute contest was over, the Brewers had stolen a season-high six bases, reached base 16 times, gone 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and struck out a season-high 16 times. Nieuwenhuis aptly summed it all up.

"That game was a little bit wacky."

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.