Cahill, Cubs shut out Crew to open twin bill

Cahill, Cubs shut out Crew to open twin bill

CHICAGO -- Cubs starting pitchers have been on a roll this month, and Trevor Cahill kept it going on Tuesday afternoon. The right-hander threw five shutout innings, drove in a run on a successful bunt, and showed some nifty footwork on a play at first in the Cubs' 4-0 win over the Brewers in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

Addison Russell hit a first-inning sacrifice fly to back Cahill, who was making his first start since April 26, 2015. They helped the Cubs improve to a Major League-best 21-8 since the All-Star break. Chicago's starting pitchers now are 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 13 games in August.

The Cubs made Matt Garza work, and he threw 103 pitches over five innings to take the loss against his former team. The Brewers totaled three hits against five Cubs pitchers, who combined for Chicago's 11th shutout of the season, tied with the Phillies for the most in the National League.

"They just executed better than we did," said Garza. "That's kind of where we're at. That's what it is. But I liked the way we kept fighting and kept going."

Aroldis Chapman got the final two outs for his fifth save in six opportunities since joining the Cubs.

Game 1 of the doubleheader was a makeup of an April 27 game that was postponed because of rain.

Start me up: Cahill had been on the disabled list because of patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Activated and added as the 26th man for the twin bill, he gave up two hits over five scoreless innings, walked two and struck out three. He also helped himself in the fourth. Chris Coghlan had doubled and advanced on Miguel Montero's single, and he scored on Cahill's bunt for a 3-0 lead. Cahill also made a nice defensive play when he was able to get to first in time for first baseman Anthony Rizzo's off-balance throw to get Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the second out in the fifth.

"He's a really good athlete," manager Joe Maddon said of Cahill, who may get another start, depending on what the Cubs decide to do regarding John Lackey, who has some soreness in his right shoulder. "Did you see his swings when he fouled the ball back? Covering first base, he did a nice job of that. He's a good athlete. He bounces around out there really well. He handles himself at the plate."

Rizzo lays out, Cahill stretches

Power outage: The Brewers' streak of 17 consecutive games with a home run came to an end, three games shy of the franchise record. The Brewers could have used a homer in the eighth, when Ryan Braun, coming off a two-homer performance on Sunday against the Reds, came off the bench to pinch-hit and flew out to center field on the first pitch from reliever Hector Rondon. The Cubs righty went on to retire Orlando Arcia and Scooter Gennett to strand a pair of runners on base.

"We had independent baserunners, but no big threats to score," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Broxton's stolen base

Right place, right time: The Cubs loaded the bases in the first and took a 1-0 lead on Russell's sacrifice fly, his 21st RBI since the All-Star break, second most on the team. Russell was also at the plate for the Cubs' next run in the third. Dexter Fowler walked to lead off the inning, moved up on Rizzo's opposite-field single and, one out later, scored on a wild pitch by Garza during Russell's at-bat.

Running into trouble: The Brewers made outs on the bases in each of the first two innings to help Cahill's cause. Jonathan Villar led off the game with a single but was promptly picked off first base. In the second, Nieuwenhuis singled with two outs but was caught stealing second, face-planting in the dirt as he was tagged for the final out of the inning.

"We didn't have a lot of hard-hit balls or things like that. You know, we're going to take chances. I think we have to take some chances," Counsell said. "[Cahill] did a good job. He threw a lot of good changeups with two strikes. That's probably the pitch that got us the most today."

Montero prevents stolen base

Cahill was the eighth starting pitcher the Cubs have used this season. Only the Cardinals (seven), Giants (seven) and Mets (six) have used fewer.

Brewers reliever Damien Magnifico's Major League debut didn't go as planned in the eighth, as a four-pitch walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch put Cubs runners at second and third for Coghlan, whose sacrifice fly scored Ben Zobrist for a 4-0 lead. Counsell challenged the close call at home plate, but it stood.

"I know we've had a lot of challenges just like that, where the guy's foot goes up in the air and the tag appears to go on," Counsell said. "But the replay system, I don't have it figured out. I mean, I didn't see a definitive [replay], but the stuff we saw on the scoreboard, it looked like his foot was in the air and there was a tag on him."

Coghlan's sacrifice fly

Brewers: Entering Wednesday's outing, Jimmy Nelson has lost his past five starts, and he has a 7.43 ERA in that span. He's 0-5 lifetime against the Cubs in 10 games (eight starts), despite a 2.91 ERA in those outings.

Cubs: Jon Lester will make his 24th start on Wednesday. He's 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his past three starts, and he has 18 quality starts so far. First pitch at Wrigley Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for 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.