Bryant collects 3 RBIs in win over Brewers

Bryant collects 3 RBIs in win over Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Kris Bryant had looked like anything but the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner when he began the season 0-for-14, but that skid is over.

Bryant drove in three runs, including a pair on a double in the third inning, to spark the Cubs to an 11-6 victory over the Brewers on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 43,080 at Miller Park.

The Brewers were missing some firepower as Ryan Braun was scratched from the lineup because of tightness in his lower back. Jonathan Villar gave them a boost with a leadoff homer, Nick Franklin added a game-tying two-run shot in the fourth and Jett Bandy smacked a two-run homer in the ninth.

Franklin's two-run home run

Villar's and Franklin's blasts came off the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks, the Major League ERA leader last season, who helped himself at the plate with two hits, including a tie-breaking RBI single in the fifth. Hendricks struck out six over six innings in his season debut.

"The very beginning of the game, 0-2 pitch, and Villar hits the homer -- we're not used to seeing [Hendricks] giving up homers, period," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That was unusual. He battled through it. We needed those innings to make it work tonight, and he did it."

Hendricks' RBI infield single

Bryant added an RBI single in the fourth and also doubled to open the eighth, setting up a four-run inning. Willson Contreras and Javier Baez each drove in two runs that frame. Both Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. collected three hits as the Cubs totaled a season-high 17 hits.

Determined Bryant breaking out of early slump

"We knew it was a matter of time," Hendricks said of the Cubs' offense. "I had a good feeling it would be today. You can't hold this offense down for very long. It's good to see them get rolling."

Almora Jr.'s RBI hit in the 7th

Penmanship: After playing an 11-inning game on Friday night, both teams needed their starters to go deep. Milwaukee's Tommy Milone subbed for starter Junior Guerra, who strained his right calf on Opening Day. Milone lasted four innings, giving up four runs. The Brewers needed 199 pitches from Milone and four relievers to get through the game, taxing an already overworked bullpen. After the game, the team optioned left-hander Brent Suter to Triple-A Colorado Springs but made no corresponding move.

"We needed more fielders tonight," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "[The Cubs] get credit for putting the ball in play, for sure, they put the ball in play, but they found a lot of holes."

Baez's two-run single

Center of attention: Not many No. 9 hitters can make an impact in the NL, but the Cubs' Almora did his part. Batting behind the pitcher, Almora went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk. The three hits matched his career high. Almora also made a nice diving catch of Travis Shaw's fly ball to end the Brewers' fifth and strand a runner at second. Statcast™ called for a 65 percent catch probability in three-star territory on the play.

"The way Almora has been playing center -- that catch he made for me today was huge -- and the day he had at the plate," Hendricks said.

Added Bryant: "You look at [Jason] Heyward, Albert, Jon Jay -- they are all Gold Glove caliber."

Almora Jr.'s smooth sliding grab

"It wasn't the start I was looking for, but luckily we came out swinging today. Finding the strike zone wasn't the problem. I was throwing across my body, and things were kind of off." -- Hendricks

Milone was the first left-hander to start a game at Miller Park for the Brewers since Tom Gorzelanny on Aug. 21, 2013, against the Cardinals. He was the first southpaw to start a game for the Brewers versus the Cubs since Randy Wolf on June 7, 2012, at Miller Park.

• Hendricks matched his career high with two hits, something he has now accomplished three times. It also marked the second time he has done so against the Brewers (Sept. 18, 2016).

"I think early I noticed I didn't have it, so I knew I'd have to do anything I could," Hendricks said of his hitting. "Luckily, we ended up swinging it enough to score enough runs."

Cubs: Jake Arrieta will close the series against the Brewers at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at Miller Park. In his first start, Arrieta gave up one unearned run over six innings against the Cardinals. He's 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in his last five starts against the Brewers.

Brewers: Braun (lower back tightness) may be out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game as the Brewers' seven-game homestand ends on Sunday. Zach Davies will start for Milwaukee. He allowed six runs in just 4 1/3 innings in his first start, a 6-5 loss to Colorado.

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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.

Joe DiGiovanni is a contributor to and covered the Brewers on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.