Brewers 9, Cubs 4
MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Milwaukee Brewers might have temporarily handed their ballpark over to Cubs fans for the weekend. At least for now however, nobody will joke that Miller Park was named after Wade Miller.
The Brewers finally got to their longtime nemesis, scoring six runs off the Cubs’ right-hander on their way to a 9-4 victory on Sunday.
Milwaukee avoided a three-game sweep by the Cubs, who return to Wrigley Field for their home opener against Houston on Monday. It came at the expense of Miller (0-1), who came into Sunday’s game with a 6-0 record at Miller Park and an 11-1 mark against Milwaukee.
“That doesn’t mean anything, really,” Miller said. “You can beat any pitcher any day of the week.”
Miller allowed back-to-back home runs to Geoff Jenkins and Gabe Gross as part of a four-run second inning that also included a looping RBI single by Brewers starter Chris Capuano. The Brewers then chased Miller with two more runs in the fifth.
At age 30 and less than two years removed from major shoulder surgery, Miller wasn’t able to muster the mid-90s fastball and baffling slider that gave the Brewers fits when he was in Houston.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella wrote off Miller’s rough outing to the fact that he hadn’t pitched in a while. Miller’s last spring training start was March 29, and he threw a simulated game on Tuesday.
Miller said he felt good on Sunday, but struggled to command his fastball.
“I worked hard to get to this point, and I’m ready to put this one behind me, really,” Miller said.
As good as Miller has been against the Brewers in his career, Capuano was even better against the Cubs last year.
Capuano (1-0) seemed to pick up where he left off last season, retiring the first 11 batters he faced on Sunday before giving up a single to Derrek Lee with two outs in the fourth inning.
“I had all my pitches working, I was very aggressive,” Capuano said. “That’s what I’m trying to keep in my mind, because those five innings were as good as I felt in a while.”
Capuano didn’t allow another baserunner until a four-run sixth—the first runs the Cubs have scored off him since 2005.
“I just got a little tentative throwing the ball,” Capuano said. “I started to get away from my aggressive approach and started trying to miss bats a little bit, picking around the zone. When I get in trouble, I need to work on getting out of that mindset and just staying aggressive.”
Capuano didn’t give up a single run in three starts against Chicago last season, winning two complete games and one eight-inning outing. With Sunday’s victory, Capuano is 8-2 against the Cubs.
Chicago tried to rally in the eighth after Brewers reliever Derrick Turnbow hit Lee with a pitch, then gave up a single to Aramis Ramirez that left runners on first and second with none out. But Turnbow struck out Mark DeRosa, got Michael Barrett to line out to left field and struck out pinch-hitter Daryle Ward.
“One thing I was glad to see today is that we fell behind six-nothing and we didn’t just roll over,” Piniella said. “We came back and made a ballgame out of it.”
“We would have liked to get the sweep today, but I think any time you go .500 on the road, it’s not a bad trip,” Lee said.
Despite the Cubs-friendly atmosphere in Milwaukee, Piniella said it still wasn’t a home game—the team is still staying in a hotel, Piniella said, “and you’re eating bratwurst.”
But the road fan support wasn’t lost on Cubs players.
“What do they call it, Chicago North?,” Lee said. “We’ve got a lot of our fans here.”
Lee was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs and has hit safely in all six games this season. … Counsell was 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a run scored. … Capuano’s RBI single was the first hit by a Brewers pitcher this season.