Garza-led Brewers defeat Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- A few weeks into his first spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers, right-hander Matt Garza was looking forward to facing his former team, the Chicago Cubs.
“I wish them the best,” Garza said back on March 14. “But I like where I‘m at, and I‘m going to try to kick their teeth in every time I get a chance.”
Garza got his chance Friday, striking out seven while holding Chicago to two runs on four hits and a walk over seven innings as the Brewers won, 5-2, at Miller Park.
The nine-year veteran, who spent two-and-a-half seasons on the North Side before being dealt to Texas last July, downplayed any ill feelings or extra motivation.
“I’ve been on five different teams, man,” Garza said. “If I had to get up for everybody, I’d be tired by midseason. It was just another ballgame, just another club I’ve got to give my team a chance to win (against).”
The victory was his first of the season and first as a Brewer after signing a franchise-record five-year contract.
Friday was also a chance for Cubs right-hander Carlos Villanueva to get reacquainted with his former team. Villanueva spent the first five seasons of his MLB career with Milwaukee, but saw his homecoming spoiled by the Brewers’ offense, which is showing signs of snapping out of a funk at home and collected 11 hits off Villanueva.
“I felt, at times, I was in a good rhythm,” Villanueva said. “I didn’t feel I was getting behind too much. A bleeder here, a bleeder there. That has been the story so far for me personally.”
Defensive miscues didn’t help his cause, especially in the first inning, when left fielder Junior Lake bobbled a routine fly ball by Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett and allowed center fielder Carlos Gomez, who singled and stole first to open the inning, to score easily.
Lake later misfired a throw home on left fielder Ryan Braun’s first-inning single, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
“He came up to me between innings and said, ‘My bad,’ ” Villanueva said. “I know he is not trying to make a mistake. You can see he cares. You can see the frustration in him. If he didn’t care then he would be getting a different type of chat from me.”
Gomez had three hits and scored twice while Braun also had three hits, an RBI and scored.
First baseman Lyle Overbay hit his first home run of the season and came within a few feet of adding a second in the seventh, finishing the day 2-for-4 at the plate.
Right-hander Neil Ramirez, called up Thursday from Triple-A Iowa, took over for Villanueva in the sixth and, in his major league debut, worked a scoreless inning and recorded his first MLB strikeout by fanning Braun.
Offensively, Chicago was able to get on the board on second baseman Emilio Bonifacio’s RBI single in the third and had a chance to get back in the game in the seventh.
Trailing 5-1, shortstop Starlin Castro led off with a single and moved to third on right fielder Nate Schierholtz’s double off the wall in center.
But Garza got Lake to look at strike three and after Castro scored on center fielder Ryan Sweeny’s groundout to first, Garza ended the inning by getting catcher Wellington Castro to bounce out to third.
“We had a couple chances but we were not able to do enough quite frankly,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Today just wasn’t our day.”
The game featured two replays, both of which resulted in overturned calls.
In the third, first base umpire Kerwin Danley ruled Braun was late to first on a force play, but a two-minute, 20-second replay showed that Braun was safe on the play.
Renteria used his challenge in the eighth when Danley ruled that Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was safe at first on a grounder to second.
That replay took just 65 seconds and showed Segura was out.
NOTES: Milwaukee has won 23 of the last 28 meetings with the Cubs at Miller Park. ... Cubs manager Rick Renteria moved SS Starlin Castro into the cleanup spot Friday for the first time this season and just the second time in his career. Castro has hits in 14 of his last 19 games. ... The Brewers reinstated RHP Brandon Kintzler from the 15-day disabled list Friday and optioned RHP Alfredo Figaro to Triple-A Nashville. ... Chicago RHP Jose Veras has a strained left oblique muscle and is day-to-day, Renteria said Friday. Veras has only appeared in two games since losing the closer’s job after blowing a two-run lead on April 11. Earlier Friday, the Brewers unveiled a statue honoring longtime radio announcer and Baseball Hall of Fame member Bob Uecker in the last row of Miller Park, a nod to Uecker’s famous 1980s beer commercials.