Rookies Segura, Fiers play pivotal roles in win

Rookies Segura, Fiers play pivotal roles in win

Rookies Segura, Fiers play pivotal roles in win
CHICAGO -- Brewers rookie Mike Fiers has long since proven he belongs in the Major Leagues, but Jean Segura is still stating his case.

On Wednesday night, the young shortstop made his strongest case yet.

Asked after a 3-1 Brewers win at Wrigley Field whether this was his best game in the big leagues, Segura responded with confidence, "So far, yeah."

"Not because I brought the winning run to score, but also because I had a good at-bat and played good defense," Segura said. "If you do good on offense and defense, you're going to help your team win ballgames."

Segura has kept it that simple since his start with the Brewers, who rode his solid play in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths along with Fiers' quality, 7 1/3-inning start to their 13th victory in 16 matchups against the Cubs this season, including eight straight wins.

The Brewers will aim for their first four-game sweep of the Cubs on Thursday afternoon in what could be trade candidate Shaun Marcum's final Brewers start.

Marcum may not be a part of Milwaukee's future, but Fiers and Segura are sure to be. Club officials considered the 22-year-old Segura the center piece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in July, and after a brief stint at Double-A Huntsville, the Brewers decided they wanted to see Segura for themselves over the season's final two months, intent on determining whether he can handle shortstop every day after the Brewers reload for 2013.

The jury is still out. But the signs so far are positive.

"He's a good player, and he's going to keep getting better," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It will be fun to see him in a year or two."

Segura showed off his arm strength on a stellar defensive play in the first and his athleticism on a key catch in the eighth. At the plate, he delivered a go-ahead single in the seventh, then used his speed to create some insurance on the bases, helping to seal Milwaukee's third consecutive series win.

The Brewers' bullpen delivered another strong outing. Manny Parra recorded an inning-ending double play in the eighth, and John Axford worked around a leadoff walk and a Corey Hart error in the ninth for his 22nd save this season and second in as many nights.

"Let's say it's more fun [in the bullpen] this way, and I don't want to say anything more than that," Parra said with a smile. "Just keep rolling."

Fiers was locked with Chicago's Jeff Samardzija in a 1-1 pitchers' duel through six innings when some spotty Cubs defense opened the door for the Brewers. With Nyjer Morgan at third base after a bunt single, a Samardzija throwing error and a wild pitch, Segura poked a 3-and-1 fastball, high and tight, for a go-ahead single to center field.

Two batters later, with two outs, Segura took off for second and never stopped running. He stole the base, took third on a throwing error charged to the catcher and scampered home on a missed catch error initially charged to second baseman Darwin Barney, but changed to third baseman Luis Valbuena, with historic consequences. It was Barney's 114th consecutive errorless game, a single-season record for a National League second baseman.

That didn't matter to Segura, who jumped up and clapped his hands to celebrate a 3-1 Brewers lead.

"I was pretty tired," Segura said. "I kept running everywhere."

He was just as impactful in the field. In the first, Segura made a sliding stop and strong throw from deep in the hole at shortstop to retire Alfonso Soriano. In the eighth, he dove to catch an errant throw from first baseman Hart on a fielder's choice, while somehow keeping his foot on second base.

Instead of having runners at first and second base with nobody out, the Cubs had a runner at first and one out for David DeJesus, who hit Parra's second pitch for an inning-ending double play.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum argued that Segura's foot came off the bag. Television replays showed it did not.

"It was a tough play, but I knew I was there," Segura said.

Fiers called it "a big out." He worked 7 1/3 innings in all, retiring 14 consecutive batters in one stretch, while allowing one run on four hits. Fiers walked one and struck out six.

Fiers has rebounded from a tough two-start stretch in which he surrendered 12 earned runs and 14 hits. In the two starts since, he has allowed only four runs on nine hits in 14 innings, and with Wednesday's win, improved to 8-6 with a 2.85 ERA.

"I never felt like I was off track," he said. "Things like that happen in this game and you just have to push them aside and work and get ready for your next start. I just kept doing the things I was doing."

Sveum was not impressed with the Cubs' offensive attack.

"It's not good when everybody in the lineup is struggling at the same time," he said. "You're not going to put too many runs on the board. It's a shame."

At least Cubs batters struck out only seven times, ending the Brewers' record streak of eight consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts. Fiers didn't mind, because the trade-off was a low pitch count. He threw only 87 pitches in 7 1/3 innings.

"These are the games I'm trying to do," he said. "Make them swing early, get early outs and go as deep into the game as I can."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.