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Crew's offense 'didn't execute' in clutch spots

@AdamMcCalvy
May 12, 2019

CHICAGO -- If you were searching for the big takeaway from the Brewers' 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Sunday night after a 15-inning loss the day before, maybe it was this: They're over. It was cold, it was wet and it was miserable for both teams for a second

CHICAGO -- If you were searching for the big takeaway from the Brewers' 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Sunday night after a 15-inning loss the day before, maybe it was this: They're over.

It was cold, it was wet and it was miserable for both teams for a second straight day at Wrigley Field, but a little colder, wetter and more miserable for the Brewers after dropping both games to even their season series against the rival Cubs at three apiece. The run differential in those games? Plus-two in favor of the Brewers, fittingly close for two clubs that battled each other all the way to a Game 163 last season and expect to be in it until the end again.

Box score

"Whoever gets the big hit, that's the team that wins," said Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacín, who dueled Jon Lester and the elements in Sunday's series finale. "We pitched really good to them, they pitched really good to us, and overall, you see that we match up a lot.

"It's early in the season and we've still got a lot of games to go, but it is a good match we play against them. I feel it's going to be that way the rest of the season."

Now they won't meet again until late July. Perhaps it will have warmed up by then.

"I think you can't read too much into it. They're fun baseball games," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "We played through some bad conditions the past couple days, and fortunately, we've been able to come out on top the last two days. That's big for us. … We were able to get this series from a good team."

Even the individual innings of Sunday's series finale went down to the wire. Javier Báez tie-breaking double off Chacin in the fifth inning came with two outs. So did Kris Bryant's two-run home run in the seventh off Adrian Houser, part of a three-hit, three-run effort for Bryant playing first base while Anthony Rizzo nursed a bad back.

The Brewers, meanwhile, were narrowly denied in their scoring chances while being limited to a single run for the second straight game.

"The weather stunk, but you can't do anything about it," said Lorenzo Cain, who was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game and 3-for-15 in the series after a 7-for-39 homestand. "You just have to go out there and play. As far as myself, I've been swinging at a lot of bad pitches and I don't think the weather dictates whether or not I swing at bad pitches. You just have to grind through it. You have to find a way to go out there and get the job done."

The Brewers will try to kick-start the offense on Monday night in Philadelphia, provided the rain doesn't chase them there. First, here's a look at some of the instances in which they were denied on Sunday:

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Bases loaded: The Brewers' only run in 6 2/3 innings against Lester scored unearned in the fourth after Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber misplayed Christian Yelich's fly ball in the wind and rain for a three-base error and Jesús Aguilar cashed in with a run-scoring single. The Brewers were poised for more when a pair of infield hits loaded the bases for Orlando Arcia, who singled an inning earlier but came up empty this time, grounding an inning-ending fielder's choice to shortstop.

Out at home: In the sixth, Aguilar doubled for his second multihit game all season and was at third when Hernán Pérez hit a bouncer to shortstop Baez. With runners at the corners and one out, Aguilar made the correct call in breaking for home, said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, but Baez's throw was on target for an out that preserved Chicago's 2-1 lead.

"You have to know the runners on the bases and [Baez] did," said Maddon. "And if it was a faster runner, there's not even a thought about that. That's all process before the play ever occurs."

Another chance: The inning was still alive for Ben Gamel, who smashed a line drive that appeared headed for the gap in left-center field. Baez had given the Cubs the lead with a similar opposite-field hit that split center fielder Cain and right fielder Yelich an inning before. But Gamel was denied when Chicago center fielder Albert Almora Jr. ran the ball down for the final out.

"They hit a ball that found the gap and we hit a ball that didn't," Counsell said.

Last chance: Cain's two-out walk and Yelich's single finally forced Lester from the game in the seventh, when Maddon called upon former Brewers right-hander Brandon Kintzler to face Aguilar. Kintzler placed a perfect sinker on the low outside corner, and Aguilar was down on strikes to end the final Brewers threat.

"Oh my god. He doesn't even know how he threw that pitch," Aguilar said. "The ball was moving a lot -- sinking a lot. I have to give the credit to him, because he executed really good tonight."

Of the Brewers' offense, Aguilar said, "We didn't execute when we're supposed to. We have to keep going. We've got to forget about those two games. It's going to be all right."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.