Perez, Anderson propel Brewers in rout of Cubs
CHICAGO — The Milwaukee Brewers arrived at Wrigley Field having lost three straight games, but still hopeful they could put a dent in the divisional deficit that divided them from the Chicago Cubs.
A day after producing just enough offense to knock the Cubs off to begin the pivotal three-game series, the Brewers exploded with plenty more Saturday to cut into the Chicago’s lead in the National League Central even more.
Hernan Perez homered and drove in five runs and Chase Anderson threw five scoreless innings and drove in a pair of runs as the Brewers routed the Cubs 15-2 to move to within three games of Chicago.
“If we can come in (Sunday) and sweep these guys at this place and go back home with some confidence with the offense swinging the bats and the pitching coming along,” Anderson said. “I think we’re getting hot at the right time.”
Anderson held the Cubs to just one hit and benefited from an early eight-run lead. Anderson (9-3) struck out five and walked one while collecting two singles and driving in two runs.
The Brewers blew the game open in the third inning when they batted around and scored eight runs.
After Cubs starter Mike Montgomery (5-8) yielded a pair of walks and a single, Travis Shaw followed with a two-run double. Jesus Aguilar added to the lead with a RBI single before Orlando Arcia produced the inning’s second two-run double.
Milwaukee also produced a run on a balk by reliever Justin Grimm, who surrendered another four runs after Montgomery departed. With the Brewers leading 6-0, Anderson laid down an RBI sacrifice bunt before Perez capped the offensive explosion with a sacrifice fly.
Manager Craig Counsell called the inning his team’s best of the season, doing the damage without the benefit of a home run.
“There’s definitely a lot of confidence (offensively) with the team,” Arcia said. “Somehow, it seems we always have good games here and we have a lot of confidence in this stadium and it just feels good, especially against this team. We just have to keep it going.”
Montgomery failed to record an out in the eight-run third and left after allowing four runs on just two hits. Montgomery walked four and struck out two before Grimm entered.
“It started out bad, it got worse, and eventually, we didn’t get anyone hurt,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was probably the biggest positive tonight.”
Anderson drove in his second run of the game with an RBI single on a drawn-in infield in the fifth inning before Perez drilled a two-run homer.
Arcia extended the Brewers lead to 12-0 in the sixth with an RBI single before Perez added to the cushion with a two-run single.
Anderson called the eight-run third “huge” before the Brewers provided him with more than enough offensive support en route to the blowout victory.
“Obviously, when you’re pitching well, you have a good chance to win,” Anderson said. “With the guys swinging the bats well and carrying it over from (Friday) to today, I just tried to get the bats back in in their hands and get out of their way.”
The Brewers capped their scoring in the eighth inning when Keon Broxton walked and eventually scored on a Dillon Maples’ wild pitch. The Cubs finally got on the board in the eighth on Kyle Schwarber’s 25th home run of the season before Leonys Martin produced an RBI double with two outs in the ninth.
Now with just a three-game lead, the Cubs will look to salvage their weekend on Sunday.
“A loss is a loss,” Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward said. “Today we got beat. It goes that way sometimes, it is what it is. Bottom line, every game in September is always magnified and that’s what you want. It’s what you play for.”
NOTES: Brewers RHP Jimmy Nelson will miss the remainder of the season after he was diagnosed with a partially torn labrum and a right rotator cuff strain. Nelson was injured after diving back to first base after a hit on Friday night. Manager Craig Counsell said Saturday the Brewers would determine who will fill Nelson’s spot in the rotation for the reminder of the season. ... Cubs LHP Rob Zastryzny picked up his first career major league hit with a sixth-inning single. ...Cubs SS Addison Russell (foot) ran for the third straight day and said he is progressing. Russell aggravated the injury on Aug. 31, which delayed his return by three weeks. Russell said the next step will be for him to run in cleats, which should happen in the coming days. “As far as moving around, I’m right there.”