CHICAGO (AP)—The Brewers showed why they’re in first and have been for most of the season.
Milwaukee bounced back quickly from a tough loss the day before, jumping on the Chicago Cubs early and not letting up Saturday in a 13-4 victory.
In their highest scoring game this season, the NL Central leaders got four runs in the first, three in the second and two more in the third. They finished with 15 hits.
“Our guys came in here and yeah they were upset, but they understood,” manager Ned Yost said. “They weren’t coming back to make a statement. They were coming back to play their game.”
But there was no lingering effect.
“They went through the same thing yesterday and came back. We understood we needed to keep tacking runs on,” Braun said.
“It’s obviously good to get a lead, you know. It kind of takes the crowd out of it a little bit. They’re obviously a good team and they can swing the bat, so we needed to keep scoring.”
Prince Fielder had a pair of doubles in the first two innings and three RBIs as Milwaukee pounded a Cubs lefty for the second straight day. On Friday, it was Rich Hill who lasted three innings. On Saturday, it was Sean Marshall being driven out after just two.
“They put some pretty good swings on some mistakes I made,” Marshall said. “It was kind of tough to give up those quick runs in the first and second. It kind of put the team down in a hole a little bit.”
Sheets (10-3) had a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight innings, allowing four runs and six hits with one walk. Milwaukee’s ace is 6-0 in his last seven starts and 9-1 over his last 14.
“We hit the ball today,” Sheets said. “That’s really the story. I did want to go out and give us a good start after (Friday’s) game.”
“He’s definitely one of the best pitchers in the National League,” Chicago’s Mark DeRosa said. “When they got up that big, it was definitely deflating.”
Corey Hart reached on shortstop Mike Fontenot’s error to start the game, J.J. Hardy singled and Braun hit an RBI double off the ivy-covered wall in center. Fielder followed with a two-run double to right, moved up on a grounder and scored on a single by Johnny Estrada.
The Cubs got two of the runs back in the bottom half. Fontenot hit an RBI triple and scored on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly.
Marshall (4-3) retired the first two batters in the second but walked Braun. Fielder then hit a long fly that center fielder Angel Pagan leaped for but couldn’t catch as it went into the ivy for an RBI double. Bill Hall followed with another run-scoring double and scored on Estrada’s second straight single.
Marshall, who had won four straight decisions, gave up seven hits and seven runs.
Braun, who was called up from Triple-A in late May, has been impressive since being put in the No. 3 spot in the order. He reached base six times Saturday.
“It’s about longevity and consistency over the long haul. So I try not to give away any at-bats,” Braun said. “I try to take the same approach in each at-bat with me, and I try to keep my focus, which obviously sometimes is not always easy.”
Chicago reliever Scott Eyre yielded a two-out, run-scoring triple to Hardy and an RBI single to Braun in the third. The Brewers made it 10-2 in the fifth, scoring on Fontenot’s second error.
DeRosa had a two-run double for Chicago in the sixth.
The Cubs made a quick switch in the second, moving Fontenot from shortstop to second and Mark DeRosa from second to shortstop. Fontenot, in just his third start at shortstop this season, made an error for the second straight game. He then made another at second in the fifth to allow the run to score. The Cubs also replaced Pagan with Jacque Jones to start the third and then took out Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Ramirez after five innings. … Brewers OF Kevin Mench, who drew his first unintentional walk of the season Friday in his 164th plate appearance, got two more walks Saturday. … Hart extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a fifth-inning double. … Craig Counsell homered for the Brewers in the seventh.