MILWAUKEE -- While everyone else was debating whether this is a rivalry series, the Brewers were busy winning it.
An 11-1 victory over the Cubs at Miller Park didn't earn style points, but it did seal a fifth consecutive series win for the Brewers while lifting them within three games of first-place Chicago in the National League Central. It also kept Milwaukee atop the NL Wild Card standings after the Cardinals won at Washington.
Winning series is a good way to get to October. With Tuesday's triumph, the Brewers have won 11 of their last 15 games, with a chance to sweep the Cubs in the three-game set on Wednesday night. The Brewers haven't swept a series since taking all three games from the Twins on July 2-4 in Milwaukee's final homestand before the All-Star break.
• Watch FREE on MLB.TV: Cubs vs. Brewers tonight, 8 p.m. ET
"I think we stated at the beginning of this series, with six left against [the Cubs], we've got to win that six-game series pretty convincingly to get back in it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We're off to a good start. We've still got a bunch of games against other teams, too, but this is how we had to start it."
The Brewers won with another stellar Wade Miley start and some small ball -- not to mention a lot of help from the Cubs. Milwaukee's first seven runs scored via three sacrifice flies, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, a passed ball and one of the Cubs' two errors before Christian Yelich delivered the game's first RBI hit, a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning that opened the lead to 9-1.
Going back to their final two runs on Monday -- a Mike Moustakas bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning and Yelich's walk-off fielder's choice in the ninth -- the Brewers scored nine straight runs without the benefit of a run-scoring hit.
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It was a case of taking what the Cubs gave them.
"They made a couple mistakes and they paid the price," said Jesus Aguilar, who hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning, then logged another RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in a three-run sixth. "That's how this game goes. We got lucky there, too. We took advantage."
Naturally, it was Yelich who snapped that streak. With a walk and a hit, the reigning NL Player of the Week has a 16-game hitting streak and has reached safely in 21 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NL. His .315 batting average trails only the Reds' Scooter Gennett's .322 among NL qualified hitters.
Jonathan Schoop drove in three runs off the Brewers' bench and leadoff man Lorenzo Cain did his part with a double and a career-high four walks to boost his on-base percentage to .404, second in the NL to Joey Votto's .414.
"I didn't like the acquisitions of Cain and Yelich here at all. I thought that was a great move on their part," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday afternoon. "They've augmented the rest of their group. Their bench is outstanding. They've done a really nice job with that, and they have power arms in the bullpen. As their starters become more efficient, there's no telling how good these guys can be. As a group, it's high end."
Miley was efficient, and it's not for a lack of performance that his winning decision was his first since July 31 at Dodger Stadium. After holding the Cubs to one run on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts, the quick-working southpaw has surrendered three or fewer runs in all 12 of his Brewers starts, including two or fewer earned runs in all but one of those games.
The Brewers are back to 18 games over .500, matching their season high. They hadn't been there since July 10.
The division, Miley said, is within reach.
"Why wouldn't it be? Heck yeah," he said. "I don't think you quit thinking about it until you can't think about it no more. I think that's the way to go at it."
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MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Miley goes out strong: It was still a tight game at 3-1 in the top of the sixth, when Miley couldn't find a Kristopher Bryant infield hit that struck Miley and fell at his feet. That brought the go-ahead run to the plate in clutch callup David Bote, but Miley won the battle by inducing a fielder's choice grounder to third base that ended the threat. The Brewers scored six runs over their next two innings at-bat to turn the game into a romp.
"I can't say enough about how he's pitched. He's really done a heck of a job," Counsell said. "He got a big out on Bote in the sixth. That was kind of the out of the game. It's 3-1, they've got something cooking there a little bit. So that was definitely the out of the game."
CUBS LOSE RIZZO
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo had to leave the game because of a contusion sustained in the third inning when he fouled a pitch off his right foot. X-rays were negative. Rizzo stayed in the game until the sixth when he was removed in a double switch. More >>
HE SAID IT
"You guys can panic. We won't do that. We'll take it day by day. We'll come on and play tomorrow and try to take a win. ... They came out hot today and they beat us." -- Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr.
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This key NL Central series wraps up Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park in the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day. The Brewers have their best 2018 starting pitcher on the mound, as Jhoulys Chacin makes his team-leading 30th start. He will be opposed by the Cubs' third straight left-hander, Jose Quintana. Milwaukee is 20-9 when Chacin takes the mound.