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Brewers edge Cubs behind Braun, bizarre eighth inning

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun homered for the second consecutive game and the Brewers held on Friday night to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 at Miller Park.

But it was the bizarre eighth inning where Milwaukee's Jean Segura led off with a single, stole second base and then later in the inning was caught trying to steal second -- again -- that will be most remembered.

With Milwaukee nursing a 5-4 lead, the Brewers appeared ready to add some insurance runs in their half of the eighth inning. Segura was on second and Braun had walked against Cubs right-hander Kevin Gregg.

Then the game turned strange and sent even seasoned baseball observers scrambling for the rulebooks.

With Rickie Weeks batting, Segura attempted to steal third base but got caught in a run down. Braun advanced to second and was standing on the base when Segura slid back to the bag.

Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena tagged both runners and Segura, thinking he was out, headed for the dugout. But the rule states the trailing runner is out and second base umpire Phil Cuzzi actually called Braun out.

When Segura realized he was not out, he ran for first base, where he was ruled safe by first base umpire Tom Hallion.

The play was perfectly legal, according to baseball rule 7.08(i).

"Any point between second and first that they would have tagged him, he's out," Hallion said. "What he did was take the liability to be put out by leaving second base. But once he got to first base, now that's his.

"Bizarre, but the ruling was all correct."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Segura should have been called out because Valbuena tagged Segura when he came off the bag. But the umpire did not see the tag.

"He got him. When Segura thought he was out, he popped up and Valbuena tagged him again and the umpire didn't see him tag him," Sveum said, adding that he wasn't going to argue the rule.

"I'm sure you can go backwards. It makes sense; if you're losing a base, why would someone penalize you for that. Luckily it all worked out but obviously, Cuzzi didn't see him tag him when he came off the bag."

After Weeks struck out, Segura took off for second base again and this time was caught, ending the inning in a most bizarre fashion. Braun was charged with a caught stealing and Segura was credited with both stealing and being caught trying to steal second base.

"Clearly a confusing play," Braun said. "I've never been a part of anything like that. I think it's pretty simple what's supposed to happen, but as far as the ruling goes I have no idea what their supposed to do, what's normal."

Fortunately for the Brewers, the play caused no harm. Milwaukee won its season-high fifth in a row after jumping on Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija for four runs in the first inning.

Norichika Aoki led off the inning reaching on an error by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who bobbled a routine ground ball.

Segura followed with a single and Braun made it 3-0 when he launched an 0-2 slider to over the left-field wall for his fourth home run of the season.

After Weeks doubled, Milwaukee added one more on Jonathan Lucroy's RBI triple before Samardzija retired three in a row to end the inning.

"It all started with the first ground ball of the game," Sveum said. "That sent everything into a tailspin. Easy ground ball, and then they were able to hit and run. That would have never happened if we would have gotten Aoki out and unfortunately it snowballed into four runs.

Samardzija settled down after that and faced just two over the minimum over the next five innings, retiring 13 of 14 batters before Carlos Gomez led off the Brewers' seventh with a home run to right.

"It was a great battle by both teams," Samardzija said. "I wouldn't say it rattled me in the first inning, I just tried to limit the damage."

The Cubs did their best to back up Samardzija, adding three in the third of Brewers starter Marco Estrada.

Valbuena led off with a homer and after a one-out walk to Samardzija, David DeJesus took Estrada's 3-2 fastball into the right-field picnic area to cut the lead to 4-3.

After Gomez's homer, Rizzo added a solo shot of his own in the eighth, again getting the Cubs within a run, but Burke Badenhop and Jim Henderson worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings to close it out, with Henderson earning his third save.

"The hitting is coming around," said Sveum, whose team is 3-5 in games decided by fewer than three runs. "When we've faced right-handed pitching, we've scored some runs and had a lot of good things happen. We're still coming up, in these one-run games, short because of this play or that play.

"We just can't seem to have a completely clean game. When you don't have clean games, it's not easy to win unless you have a prolific offense."

NOTES: Starlin Castro singled in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Braun's homered in the bottom of the first, his second home run in as many games. With 206 for his career, he's two from trying Gorman Thomas for fourth on the Brewers' all-time list. ... The Cubs came into the game hitting .154 with runners in scoring position, the lowest average in baseball. ... Milwaukee' bullpen was 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and six saves in the last six games. ... Earlier Friday, the Cubs claimed outfielder Julio Borbon off waivers from Texas and designated infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment. He arrived at Milwaukee's Miller Park during the ninth inning and immediately was inserted as a pinch-runner, but ended the game getting caught stealing second base.
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