MILWAUKEE -- Kris Bryant got his first hit and Ben Zobrist homered, but Jimmy Nelson and five Brewers relievers combined to blank the Cubs after the second inning so Milwaukee could rally for a 2-1 walk-off win in 11 innings on Friday night at Miller Park.
The game ended on a wild pitch. Ryan Braun's single off Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery to open the 11th was the Brewers' first hit since the sixth. Jesus Aguilar walked to cap a big night at the plate and in the field, and Jett Bandy was hit by a pitch before Montgomery misfired an 0-2 offering to Brewers catcher Manny Pina, bringing home Braun with the winning run.
"I was getting ready for my next start by the end," joked Nelson, whose six quality innings were long in the books by the time the Brewers mounted their winning rally. "Me and some of the bullpen guys were in here going crazy cheering."
The Cubs are the reigning World Series champions, but the Brewers have played their Interstate 94 rivals tough in recent meetings. Milwaukee has won six of the last seven games between the teams, and with another win on Saturday or Sunday, will have taken three straight series.
So as the game pushed into extra innings, the Cubs leaned on Montgomery. He retired all six batters he faced in the ninth and 10th before Braun's single got things going in the 11th.
"We had gone a couple of innings where we didn't get much going," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We didn't have great at-bats, I didn't think. But that inning, guys just kept the at-bat alive. ... A three-inning appearance for Montgomery, I know he was stretched out in the spring, but that's still a lot to ask."
A night full of quality pitching began with the starters, who each fared well in no-decisions. Nelson surrendered a run on four hits, including Zobrist's solo homer leading off the second inning, but he otherwise kept the Cubs in check. Nelson walked two and struck out eight in his ninth career start with at least that many K's.
Anderson, making his Cubs debut and coming off a 2016 season with the Dodgers marred by back surgery, kept the Brewers off the board until they tied the score at 1-1 in the sixth on Aguilar's shift-beating single.
"You'd almost feel better about giving up a 500-foot homer in the first than a weak single in the sixth," said Anderson, who allowed one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Triple double: Three times in the final five innings, including in each of the extras, the Brewers turned big double plays to escape trouble. None of those escapes was more harrowing than the one in the 10th, when the Cubs loaded the bases against Brewers relievers Brent Suter and Jared Hughes with only one out. Bryant greeted Hughes by fighting back from an 0-2 count to work a 10-pitch walk, and Anthony Rizzo followed with another walk to bring Zobrist to the plate with nowhere to put him. Hughes, a sinkerballer, finally got the ground ball he was looking for, and the Brewers turned Zobrist's bouncer to second base into a huge double play to preserve the tie.
"The heart was beating quick when I sprinted in, but when the bases were loaded it probably went up a little bit," Hughes said. "Bases loaded, probably not ideal. Thank goodness there was some good defense behind me and we got out of it."
"Give them credit," Maddon said. "It was a great flip by [Jonathan Villar] on the backhand flip to the shortstop on the ball that Zobrist hit. That's a long flip and he made it perfectly. Aguilar threw the ball really well at first base. They beat us at our own game tonight -- they played good defense."
Aguilar stays scorching: A waiver claim who won a roster spot with a 1.376 OPS in Spring Training, Aguilar is the only Brewer with a hit in each of the team's five games this season. The first baseman added a pair of singles on Friday, including an opposite-field hit with two strikes and two outs in the sixth that tied it. Aguilar is 7-for-11 to start his Brewers career, and he's walked twice, too. More >
"After 108 years of practice, anyone can win it." -- a sign in the stands Friday, shown on the video board to cheers in the middle of the fourth inning.
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Bryant went 0-for-14 before collecting his first hit, an infield single with two out in the Cubs' fifth that bounced off the third-base bag. According to Elias, Bryant's start marked the longest hitless streak to open a season by a reigning Most Valuable Player, breaking a tie with Ryne Sandberg, who began the 1985 season 0-for-13.
One year to the day when Kyle Schwarber sustained a season-ending collision with Dexter Fowler in the outfield, second baseman Javier Baez and center fielder Jason Heyward crashed into each other in the sixth. The Brewers had just tied it at 1 when Hernan Perez lofted a fly ball to shallow center. Baez and Heyward collided and tumbled to the ground, although Heyward was able to pop up and get to the ball. Baez stayed on the ground, but eventually did walk off under his own power. He suffered a left eye contusion, and was listed as day to day. More >
Baez did not need to undergo the concussion protocol. His left eye was bloodshot, and he had some swelling above the eye.
"As soon as I turned, I saw [Heyward] right in my face," Baez said. "I couldn't see what hit me. It was a really big man coming. I kind of saw him in 3D in my face. Everything's good, everything's fine. I'll be ready to play tomorrow."
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks, who led the Major Leagues in ERA last year, will make his first start of 2017 on Saturday in the second game of this three-game series against the Brewers at 6:10 p.m. CT. He is 5-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers.
Brewers:Tommy Milone will make his first Brewers start when the series continues on Saturday at Miller Park. The left-hander was in the bullpen on Opening Day, but he was called into emergency relief of starter Junior Guerra, who sustained a right calf strain that is expected to sideline him at least six weeks.