For a second straight night the Milwaukee Brewers lost in agonizing fashion, this time a 5-3 setback to the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.
Manager Craig Counsell’s club took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning against the defending World Series champions, only to see shortstop Javy Baez drive in the tying run off of Jeremy Jeffress with two strikes and two down.
“(Jeffress) did a great job. He did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Counsell said. “He threw a ball on the last pitch (to Baez), that looked to me like it was just off the ground, and (Baez) just rolled a ball up the middle.”
Milwaukee loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t get a run across. In the 10th, Chicago’s Kris Bryant drilled what proved to be the game-winning 2-run homer off of Oliver Drake.
The loss came a night after the Brewers blew a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning to Pittsburgh, who went on to win the game 6-4.
“Two tough games,” Counsell said of the missed opportunities. “We’re still sitting, to me, in a pretty good spot, where we can play well for the last nine days and still do something good. Every loss is going to be incredibly tough right now.”
Chicago pushed its lead in the NL Central to 4 ½ games on the second-place Brewers, and while it seems a bit much to ask to catch the Cubs, Milwaukee is still, like Counsell said, in good shape playoff-wise. That’s thanks to Colorado, which has lost three straight and still holds just a one-game lead on the Brewers, with St. Louis a ½ game back of them.
“Having multiple options to get into the playoffs is nice, but (this) is a big series regardless of that wild card issue,” pitcher Zach Davies said. “We’ve got three games left (with the Cubs). We’ll take it to them the next three.”
Milwaukee and Chicago will play game No. 2 of the four-game series at Miller Park on Friday night with first pitch coming at 6:35 p.m.