CHICAGO -- Before Monday's game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was happy to hear that the wind was blowing in at Wrigley Field to make the ballpark more pitcher-friendly. It didn't matter to the Brewers and Eric Thames.
Thames homered in his fifth consecutive game, finishing with three hits, while Ryan Braun added a two-run blast and an RBI double, and Jett Bandy hit a solo home run to power the Brewers to a 6-3 victory over the Cubs, who lost their fourth in a row.
"They punctured it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Brewers' homers into a northerly wind. "That 'oppo' backdoor slider to Thames on a line into the wind -- you don't see that. That's really powerful stuff. We just made too many mistakes to [Braun]. Those two guys were pretty much their offense and that's the game."
Thames doubled in the first, homered in the third, grounded out in the fifth and singled in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. After playing the past three seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, he leads the Major Leagues with seven home runs, including six in the past five games.
"I can't even describe it," Thames said. "I was just excited to be back here. I just wanted to see pitching and see how I would adapt to it."
John Lackey took the loss, serving up all three Brewers homers, including Thames' solo shot leading off the third. Thames is two home runs shy of the entire Cubs team; they are last in the National League with nine.
Last year, the Cubs did not lose back-to-back games in April, and this current streak is one shy of their longest skid of 2016 (five games, July 5-9).
With the win, the Brewers are two games above .500 for the first time since finishing the 2014 season with an 82-80 record.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Unwelcome guest: No one on the Brewers was happier to see Wrigley Field than Braun, who is a career .342 batter at the Cubs' home ballpark. He added to his totals with a two-run homer in the first and an RBI double in the eighth, and has 13 homers in 67 games on the Cubs' home turf. In the first, Braun took two pitches from Lackey, then launched the third into the left-field bleachers. The homer and double raised his career extra-base hit total to 652 to move past Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for second on the Brewers' all-time leaderboard. Hall of Famer Robin Yount holds the club record with 960.
"It's unique that Ryan's not getting the attention after a five home run start in the first couple weeks of the season," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But he's happy with it, I guarantee it."
Shifty moves: The Brewers employed a severe defensive shift in the first against leadoff man Kyle Schwarber, who showed off his small-ball skills by bunting for a base hit. Schwarber's ball rolled down the line and was fair until it hit the bag, while Anderson and third baseman Travis Shaw could only watch. That's all Schwarber needed to get to first. Two outs later, he scored on Ben Zobrist's single to center. Anthony Rizzo also countered the Brewers' shift by bunting for a hit with one out in the fifth. He then stole second, but was picked off.
"The situation dictated it right there," Schwarber said of his bunt. "We're down two runs and I needed to get on base. If it's wide open in that spot, I'm going to take it." More >
"I don't remember what our record was at the beginning of last year. People are going to come here gunning for us, for sure. We're the world champs, and people want to come here and play well. We'll have to match that intensity and play better." -- Lackey
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With Monday's loss, the Cubs are under .500 for only the third time since Maddon took over in 2015. The other two times came on Opening Days (in 2015 and this year).
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Can Thames keep his home run streak alive against a lefty? That will be the task if he draws a starting assignment against Chicago southpaw Brett Anderson when the series continues Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT. Jimmy Nelson starts for Milwaukee.
Cubs: Anderson will make his third start of the season and second against the Brewers. The lefty gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings in their last meeting in Milwaukee.