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Nieuwenhuis powers Brewers' win vs. Cubs

July 23, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- Mike Montgomery won't want to remember his Cubs debut. Kirk Nieuwenhuis greeted the left-hander with a three-run homer in the eighth inning, his second home run of the game and first off a southpaw this season, to lead the Brewers to a 6-1 victory over the Cubs on

MILWAUKEE -- Mike Montgomery won't want to remember his Cubs debut. Kirk Nieuwenhuis greeted the left-hander with a three-run homer in the eighth inning, his second home run of the game and first off a southpaw this season, to lead the Brewers to a 6-1 victory over the Cubs on Saturday night. Chicago acquired Montgomery from the Mariners on Wednesday.
"For Montgomery, that's just unfortunate," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I hope he just files that very quickly because it looked like his stuff was outstanding. They beat us, they just beat us. Give them credit."
Jonathan Lucroy smacked a two-run homer in the first and Nieuwenhuis added a solo blast in the fourth to back Zach Davies in front of a sold-out crowd of 44,643 at Miller Park. Davies faced the Cubs for the second time in his young career, and seemed to know exactly what to do, giving up three hits over 6 1/3 innings for the win, which was the Brewers' third victory in their last 10 games. In two career starts against the Cubs, the right-hander has served up five hits and been charged with one run over 12 1/3 innings.
"[Davies] was excellent again," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "His first [three] starts since the break have been absolutely outstanding. He's been really good. Again, it's off of four pitches. Him and [Lucroy] are really in sync and they've really kind of got hitters on the defense and not knowing what to look for. He's doing a nice job making pitches."

The Cubs' John Lackey's recent woes continued, and it had nothing to do with the Miller Park roof opening and closing in-game because of the weather. Lackey posted a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings, but has not won since June 8.
"He threw the ball really well," Maddon said. "If we score a couple runs, he's had himself a good night."
Captain Kirk: Entering Saturday, Nieuwenhuis had an OPS of .885 at Miller Park, compared to a .452 mark on the road. That split became even more pronounced as Nieuwenhuis posted his third career multihomer game, finishing 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. In the fourth, the center fielder squared up a delivery from Lackey and cleared the center-field fence for a solo homer. With two outs in the eighth, Nieuwenhuis sliced a 3-1 pitch inside the left-field foul pole for a three-run homer to put the Brewers up 6-1. More >
"The last couple of days I've just tried to change my mentality a little bit," Nieuwenhuis said. "I've just been pressing the last three, four weeks. It seems like longer than that. I've really just tried to take it one pitch at a time the last couple of days and see where that takes me."

Extra work: Davies walked rookie Willson Contreras to open the second but then got Jason Heyward to hit into a 6-3 double play. Heyward and Ben Zobrist both have been scuffling at the plate, and Zobrist, who batted .406 in May, ended an 0-for-24 skid with a leadoff single in the seventh. Heyward also singled in the seventh, and Addison Russell followed with an RBI single, but Will Smith ended the Cubs' threat. More >

Marathon finish: Lucroy fouled off pitch after pitch against Lackey in the first, wearing down the right-hander. On the 12th pitch of the at-bat, Lucroy unloaded into the Brewers' bullpen in left-center for a two-run homer. The home run was the 13th of the season for Lucroy, whose stock continues to rise as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
"I was battling him," Lucroy said. "He kept throwing that stuff borderline away from me, and I was fighting it off, fighting it off, fighting it off. He let one come back over the middle a little bit, and I was able to square it up. It was a tough at-bat, and I think I tired him out and he finally let one leak back out a little bit."
Said Lackey: "'Luke' put a good at-bat on me. I made a lot of good pitches in that [at-bat]. I felt pretty good for the most part. I felt I threw the ball pretty well. Things get magnified in those kind of games."

Glovework: The Brewers had runners at second and third with one out in the seventh when a 2-2 pitch from Adam Warren sailed past Contreras. Hernán Pérez tried to score from third on the play, but Contreras threw to Warren, who made the tag. The Brewers challenged the call, and after a review, it was ruled that the call stands. Contreras also threw out Nieuwenhuis trying to steal second base to end the sixth.

"It's nice to quiet them down when you feel like you're in Chicago for a couple of days. But we're so close and they have a diehard fan base so that's going to happen." -- Davies, on a heavy pro-Cubs contingent in Milwaukee
With a steal by Russell in the second, the Cubs have stolen a base in seven consecutive games, marking the first time they have done so since an 11-game streak in 1989.
Cubs:Jon Lester will close the series against the Brewers on Sunday. The lefty is coming off a solid game against the Mets in which he gave up one run over 7 2/3 innings. He's 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA against the Brewers in his career. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park.
Brewers: Milwaukee will close out the series behind right-hander Junior Guerra, who enters his 15th start with a 3.06 ERA. Guerra faced the Cubs once this season, picking up the win while allowing three runs and striking out a career-high 11 over seven innings.
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Curt Hogg is a reporter for based in Milwaukee.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.