Brewers 5, Cubs 1: Five-run explosion in eighth powers Crew to victory

Yet another lusty chorus of boos followed Craig Counsell off the field as he made a pitching change in the eighth inning Monday at American Family Field; they turned to riotous cheers four pitches later.

The long-tenured Brewers manager heard from unhappy Milwaukee fans before and during his first game back in Milwaukee, this time as manager of the Chicago Cubs, but the Brewers sent him home with an L. Willy Adames hit a three-run home run off reliever Hayden Wesneski, part of a five-run rally that broke open a scoreless game in the eighth inning, and gave the Brewers a 5-1 victory.

Brewers shortstop Willy Adames hits a three-run home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Monday at American Family Field.
Brewers shortstop Willy Adames hits a three-run home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Monday at American Family Field.

For seven innings, the Brewers were mystified by starter Justin Steele, who allowed three hits (all singles) over seven innings with eight strikeouts for the Cubs. It was his fourth time going at least six scoreless innings against Milwaukee, even though he entered the game with a gaudy 5.68 ERA. When he didn't come back out for the eighth, the Brewers were facing a run of 25⅓ innings without a run against Cubs starters this year.

Oddly enough, that mark includes Wesneski, but Adames' homer and an RBI double by Jackson Chourio allowed the Brewers to make it a 5-0 game by inning's end. William Contreras hit what could have been a double-play ball to third baseman Nick Madrigal with nobody out, but the ball bounced off of Madrigral and into left center to plate the first run of the night.

Starter Robert Gasser, on paper, was even better than he was in his remarkable big-league debut against St. Louis on May 10, but he had some help this time. After allowing just one batter to reach through six innings (seven strikeouts), he immediately allowed singles to Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger starting the seventh. Enter Bryan Hudson, who not only stranded both runners but worked a scoreless eighth to drop his ERA this season to 0.59.

Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell holds court with reporters before their game against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday at American Family Field
Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell holds court with reporters before their game against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday at American Family Field

Cubs reliever Mark Leiter Jr. entered the game in the eighth with a 0.90 ERA but allowed the first three men to reach (the third via error) before striking out Christian Yelich. Out popped Counsell for the pitching change, and Adames became the first Brewer to homer on a 3-0 pitch since Yelich in 2021.

Christopher Morel's sacrifice fly against Hoby Milner in the ninth provided Chicago's only tally of the game.

Cubs get a run, but Brewers close it out for 5-1 victory

Hoby Milner allowed the first two batters to reach and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Christopher Morel, but that's all in the ninth. The Brewers secure a 5-1 victory in 2 hours, 17 minutes, and Craig Counsell has to endure the short drive home with an L.

Brewers bust out the bats to take a 5-0 lead in the eighth

Wow, the tide turned quickly in Milwaukee.

After the error, Wisneski served up a three-run home run to center from Willy Adames, giving the Brewers a 4-0 lead in a game that had been scoreless mere moments earlier. Then, after a two-out walk by Joey Ortiz, Jackson Chourio hit a double to the wall in right center, plating another and giving Milwaukee a 5-0 lead.

BOX SCORE: Brewers 5, Cubs 1

Justin Steele was electric, but the Cubs couldn't crack Robert Gasser or Bryan Hudson, and the Cubs' bullpen couldn't keep it locked down. Jack Leiter Jr., who allowed the first three batters to reach (one via error) came into the game with a 0.90 ERA, too.

Adames' home run was the first Brewers home run on a 3-0 pitch since Christian Yelich in 2021.

Hoby Milner checks in for the ninth looking to close it out.

Error gives the Brewers have the lead in the eighth

Mark Leiter Jr. ran into trouble right away by allowing a deep single to Sal Frelick and a walk to Brice Turang, bringing up William Contreras. His sharp grounder to third base could have been a double play, but it bounced squarely off Nick Madrigal and into the outfield, scoring the first run of the game and putting runners at the corners with nobody out.

Christian Yelich then struck out, and Craig Counsell emerged from the dugout (the boos are raining down once again) to put in Hayden Wisnewki.

Bryan Hudson continues his excellence with a second scoreless inning

Brice Turang made a flashy play on a grounder but seemed to have trouble picking up a liner up the middle that went under his glove with two outs; it's a hit but I'm sure Turang will tell you he should have come up with that ball.

No matter; Bryan Hudson strikes out Nico Hoerner for his second straight scoreless inning and the Brewers head to the bottom of the eighth still tied at zeroes.

Is Hudson an all-star? It sounds crazy, but he's down to a 0.59 ERA in just over 30 innings of work this year.

Better news for the Brewers: Justin Steele is out of the game. He went seven scoreless innings, but the Cubs bullpen is now into the game, starting with right-hander Mark Leiter Jr.

Ian Happ ends the inning (and maybe saves a run)

We are still scoreless after seven innings in Milwaukee.

Ian Happ's diving catch in left field robbed Jake Bauers of a bloop single, and though Jackson Chourio was only on first base, I would have been fascinated to see what happens if he doesn't come up with that ball.

Justin Steele is up over 90 pitches, but will he return for the eighth? Hudson is back on the hill for the Brewers in the top half.

The Brewers have gone 25⅓ scoreless innings against Cubs starting pitchers this year.

Bryan Hudson escapes the jam and keeps the game scoreless

Bryan Hudson just continues to be nails.

He strikes out Christopher Morel by inducing an awkward swing on a 3-2 pitch, then got a broken-bat pop-up from Patrick Wisdom. With two outs, Dansby Swanson battled Hudson for four straight foul balls, took ball two, then struck out looking as American Family Field went crazy.

Hudson with a 0.61 ERA in 29 innings. He's been unbelievable. Brewers will try to break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh.

Cubs get to Robert Gasser in the seventh, but he leaves to ovation, and now Bryan Hudson will try to escape a jam

The Cubs seem to be catching up to Robert Gasser and open the seventh with two straight well-struck singles from Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger. Chicago is cooking as Bryan Hudson checks into the game trying to bail Milwaukee out of the first bona fide jam of the day.

Gasser had 11 swings-and-misses through five innings but did not get a single whiff in the sixth or seventh.

We're going to remember Robert Gasser's debut, but this outing looks better on paper (for now)

Robert Gasser got everybody's attention with his amazing Major League debut against the Cardinals on May 10, when he allowed no runs on two hits with four strikeouts and zero walks.

Today? Even better, at least so far. And at 78 pitches, it seems like he'll get a chance to work the seventh.

Gasser has seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit, with no walks. In fact, only one batter over the minimum has reached. Nico Hoerner, whose leadoff single in the fourth is the only blemish, just grounded out to end the sixth.

But again, the Brewers can't reward Gasser without a run of their own. They have just two hits in five innings with the top of the order due up in the sixth.

Robert Gasser's strong start continues through five scoreless innings

Robert Gasser has been nearly perfect today, allowing just one baserunner (a Nico Hoerner single) in five innings. He's thrown a first-pitch strike to every single hitter (16 batters) but one and already has 11 swings-and-misses from Cubs batters. Impressive work for a guy who's already off to a great start in his career.

His ERA for the moment falls to 2.05 over four starts.

The Brewers, though, will need to solve Justin Steele, who's been mowing down Brewers despite coming into the game with a 5.68 ERA this year. He records two more strikeouts in the fifth and is up to eight for the game on just 65 pitches. After Turang was thrown out stealing, the Brewers have gone down in order over the next eight batters.

Brice Turang caught stealing for first time in 37 tries, and it kills a rally

Brice Turang had successfully stolen a base on 36 straight attempts before the third inning, when he was picked off by Justin Steele and thrown out gunning for third base. That was the first out of the inning; the Brewers had put runners at first and second with nobody out, but the rally was suddenly dead.

In the top of the fourth, Nico Hoerner's single marked the first baserunner against Robert Gasser, but he retired the next three batters to avoid any damage. The Brewers, however, went quietly in the fourth, and we're still scoreless through four innings.

The Brewers have not scored against a Cubs starting pitcher this year in 22⅓ innings.

Gasser, Steele sizzling early through two scoreless innings

Cubs pitcher Justin Steele and Brewers starter Robert Gasser have been pretty electric in the early going.

Gasser retired all six men he faced through the first two innings, with three strikeouts. Steele wasn't as perfect but already has five strikeouts, with a two-out single allowed to Willy Adames and a two-out hit batsman that was Jake Bauers.

Scoreless early here at American Family Field.

Some pregame quotes from Pat Murphy and Craig Counsell

Both managers met the media before the game Monday. They share an inextricable bond; Pat Murphy was Counsell's bench coach for eight seasons and previously Counsell's college head coach at Notre Dame. And now, Murphy is Counsell's successor as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Counsell, on whether or not there was anything that specifically triggered his decision to leave: "There's not any moments, and there's not one thing that happens. There's multiple things that happen and you prefer and then opportunities come up, but you're looking for challenges. I was at a place for a long time, so I think when you're at a place a long time, you just naturally think about, 'What if I did something different?' That was part of it. that happened over the last couple years. David Stearns leaving made me think about it a lot, I don't know it couldn't. It happens over time for sure."

Stearns resigned as Brewers general manager after the 2022 season.

"Life takes different turns. I don't want to plan out my life forever. I want to do things that challenge me, excite me. I don't make plans like that. You've got to take the ride of life and see what happens. this was not something I necessarily expected to happen, but you've got to jump on the ride, yo."

What sort of reception did Counsell expect from the crowd?

"Cheers, boos, whatever, just have a good time at the game. That's what fans get to do. It's Memorial Day, you're off from work today. Let's all have a good time.

"It's not my job how to tell people how to feel about something. They need to figure it out. Let people feel how they want to feel, and I'm good with that. It doesn't have to be all positive. We're in a public job, we're in a job for fans and fans are allowed to feel however they want to feel. It bothers you initially, of course. Some things that happen bother me, sure. But as it goes on, some of it is (just), 'You're a fan, you can feel how you wanna feel. You're entitled to that as a fan. I'm good with that. I think that's part of it and part of what makes sports fun. I live in Wisconsin. I really enjoy living here, I enjoy where I live."

Murphy reiterated that Counsell was indeed still a Wisconsinite through and through.

"If you know him, he loves everybody from Wisconsin," Murphy said. "He's so interested in high school sports, what everybody is doing. People would come before the game, and he'd point out to me, 'Hey this guy played high school basketball with this (guy), this coach here used to coach here.' I had a buddy come and coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, and (Counsell) welcomed him and told him the history of the program. He's so in to Wisconsin sports. His kids all played sports here, growing up here. He would do anything for this community, that's how he is."

On the fan reaction that was expected, Murphy said, "We have passionate fans, that's something I've come to know in nine years. I was here for most every game Craig managed. I know how much they respect him. I know how much the Brewers accomplished when Craig was the manager, and I think when he walks out, he's expecting anything. In terms of knowing what he's feeling, I don't know. I know at the end of the day, 20 years from now, we'll all look back at this and Craig will be recognized as a big part of the Brewers."

On the seeming lack of sentimentality from Counsell, Murphy said, "I think it is (sentimental for him), he just doesn't let you see that part. He's not going to let anybody see that. I've seen a very different side of Craig. You have to keep it business-like. This is important to a lot of guys in there, it's important to this community. You have a job to do, we have a responsibility, and that's it. These four games won't make or break either of our seasons, but they're important."

On what Murphy has taken away working with Counsell, "I had been part of the Major League game for 90 games. I didn't really know (the game). You think you do, but a lot of guys probably think you know what you're doing, and we'll see in 20 years. I had to learn the game and I had to help him, I think, 'You're good at this man, you could do this. You could be a leader. With your personality, you could be a leader.' I think it was a pretty good ying and yang between us, I think he did more for me than I did for him, to be quite honest. It shocked him to know how good he was at it, because he's a very humble guy, and I think it shocked him to know how good he was controlling a room and having a pulse on the players and managing in-game. I didn't necessarily know how to do that all that well, I did it my little gig how I was doing it. But I think he was magnificent, and I'm the one who benefited from this."

Brewers time, TV, radio

The Brewers game starts at 3:10 p.m. Monday.

TV: Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio: AM-620 and a state network

Chicago Cubs lineup

  • Nico Hoerner 2B

  • Seiya Suzuki RF

  • Cody Bellinger CF

  • Christopher Morel DH

  • Patrick Wisdom 1B

  • Dansby Swanson SS

  • Ian Happ LF

  • Nick Madrigal 3B

  • Miguel Amaya C

  • Justin Steele SP

Milwaukee Brewers lineup

  • William Contreras C

  • Christian Yelich LF

  • Willy Adames SS

  • Joey Ortiz 3B

  • Jackson Chourio RF

  • Jake Bauers 1B

  • Blake Perkins CF

  • Brice Turang 2B

  • Robert Gasser SP

What's the Brewers record?

The Brewers are 30-22.

Is the American Family Field roof open?

The roof is closed during pregame.

Brewers schedule

Brewers vs. Cubs, 6:40 p.m. Tuesday: Milwaukee RHP Freddy Peralta (3-3, 3.81) vs. Chicago RHP Ben Brown (1-1, 3.20). Broadcasts: TV – Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio – AM-620.

Brewers vs. Cubs, 6:40 p.m. Wednesday: Milwaukee RHP Bryse Wilson (3-1, 2.86) vs. Chicago LHP Shota Imanaga (5-0, 0.84). Broadcasts: TV – Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio – AM-620.

Brewers vs. Cubs, 12:10 p.m. Thursday: Milwaukee RHP Colin Rea (4-2, 3.98) vs. Chicago RHP Jameson Taillon (3-2, 2.58). Broadcasts: TV – Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio – AM-620.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers' late offensive explosion spoils Craig Counsell's return home