CHICAGO -- Not only did the Cubs stop Eric Thames' homer streak, but they snapped their skid as well.
Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero each hit two-run homers, pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. delivered a two-run single in a four-run sixth and the game-winning run scored on a wild pitch to lift the Cubs to a 9-7 victory Tuesday night over the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
"It's not a big deal -- it's early," Schwarber said of the Cubs' slow start. "We know that we're a good baseball club. It's early. We're not too worried about it. We're going to play our game and take the end result."
Thames was vying for his sixth straight game with a home run, but instead went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a single, and scored two runs. He has hit safely in each of his 12 starts, setting a franchise record to begin a season. Dickie Thon held the old mark of 11 games, set in 1993.
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson scattered six hits over the first five innings, including both Schwarber's and Montero's homers. With one out in the Chicago sixth, he served up three straight ground ball hits, including Almora's pinch-hit single off third baseman Travis Shaw's glove, which pulled the Cubs within 7-6. Jon Jay then greeted Jared Hughes by hitting an elevated sinker for an RBI triple to tie the game. Two batters later, Hughes' first pitch to Kris Bryant skipped away for a wild pitch, and Jay scored.
"It was just terrible execution on my part," Hughes said.
Said Nelson: "When our offense puts up that many runs it should be a win every time. That's on me. We had a nice lead, the offense did a great job of getting to their starter early, and I just have to go out there and get more outs."
A 15-mph wind blowing out to left field made things tough for pitchers, but five Cubs relievers combined to hold the Brewers hitless after Shaw's home run leading off the fifth. Chicago starter Brett Anderson is still getting used to Wrigley's quirky elements. In his last start, he said, you couldn't hit one out with an aluminum bat. On Tuesday, a batter could have used a piece of balsa wood, he said.
"It was an incredibly difficult night to pitch, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The balls in the air -- it probably evened out for both teams, really. I thought Jimmy pitched much better than his line. I thought he could have got a lot better fate tonight."
With the win, the Cubs ended their four-game losing streak. They're used to tight games this year as nine of their first 14 games have been decided by two runs or fewer, including six one-run games.
"We have a pretty good hitting lineup from top to bottom," Montero said. "Obviously, they have a five-run lead in the game but there was still a long way to go. We knew we'd be able to come back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Teamwork: The Brewers' 2-3-4 hitters combined to go 6-for-6 in their first two turns through the order, as both Thames and Shaw hit a pair of doubles. Shaw, excited to be playing at Wrigley for the first time, added a home run leading off the fifth. Eleven of Shaw's 13 total hits this season have been for extra bases.
"Those guys in the middle are scoring a bunch," Counsell said. "We've got to get some contributions down at the bottom, but if you've got your big guys hitting, you're going to put up some runs. Those guys continued to do it tonight, and that's a positive sign."
Power rangers: The Cubs began the night as one of three Major League teams that had yet to reach double digits in home runs, joining the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Schwarber and Montero changed that, raising the team total to 11. Schwarber's homer extended his hitting streak to six games, matching his career high, set Aug. 1-18, 2015. Montero, delegated to backing up Willson Contreras, began the night with two hits in 14 at-bats. He went 3-for-4, his second straight multihit game.
Do the players check the flags at Wrigley?
"I wouldn't say so, but obviously you see it when you walk in," Schwarber said. "That's the first thing you check when you walk out for batting practice, is if it's blowing in or blowing out. It might have an effect on some players, but I just want to go up there and stick with what I want to do."
"They'll definitely take advantage of any mistake you make. … Limit those mistakes and you can beat the Cubs. But tonight, I know I certainly didn't." -- Hughes
"Right in the fat part of my fat hamstring. I didn't feel great. It didn't really effect me. I tweaked a groin last start and get hit in the hamstring this start. It wouldn't be a Brett Anderson start without some sort of athletic play. I'd like to have a start where I don't have to deal with something. It comes with the territory, being super athletic." -- Anderson, about Domingo Santana's first-inning comebacker that struck him on his leg
BRAUN MOVES CLOSER TO 10-AND-5 Ryan Braun collected two hits and scored two runs on a day that brought some news on the business side. MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal reported that Braun is on pace to reach 10 years of Major League service on May 14, not May 24 as had been previously reported based on his May 25, 2007, debut. A year of Major League service is defined as 172 days, and Braun entered this season 43 days shy of the milestone. Why is this notable? Because a player with 10 years of service, the last five with his current team, is awarded a blanket no-trade provision. Until Braun reaches that point, the Brewers can trade him without his consent to one of six teams stipulated in Braun's contract.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Veteran lefty Tommy Milone will make his first career start at Wrigley in Wednesday's rubber game at 1:20 p.m. CT. Will it be his last start for a while? Matt Garza, recovered from a right groin strain, rejoined the team Tuesday and is ready to come off the disabled list. Brewers officials planned to meet Thursday to assess where to place Garza, a decision that could have implications for Milone.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will make his third start in the series finale. This will be his second start against the Brewers. He gave up four runs over six innings April 8 at Miller Park, striking out six.