Brewers' fumble, Bryant's hustle key ninth
MILWAUKEE -- The home run wait continues for Kris Bryant, but the rookie found another way to help the Cubs win.
After a pair of Brewers errors gave the Cubs an opening to add on to their lead, Bryant beat out a ninth-inning grounder to short on an overturned call that drove in the eventual winning run, as the Cubs held on for a 7-6 victory on Friday night at Miller Park.
The Brewers lamented their mistakes, especially after Ryan Braun hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning to make it a one-run game.
The Cubs celebrated their prized rookie, who isn't hitting homers, but continues to hustle.
"He's been struggling at the plate. Hits a routine ground ball to shortstop, beats it out, we score a run," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "How many guys do that? How many guys in baseball today do that? Routine ground ball to short, we're up, it looks like we're in pretty good shape, he beats out a ground ball, we challenge, run scores. That's the game right there."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell had a different takeaway.
"To me, it says every out is important," Counsell said. "Every play is important. If you want to win games, you've got to commit to every out being important, no matter the score."
Starlin Castro opened a wild ninth inning with a leadoff homer to put the Cubs up, 6-3. With two outs, Addison Russell beat out an infield single to third. Third baseman Elian Herrera, a late replacement for Aramis Ramirez who was scratched with lower back tightness, barehanded the ball, but threw wildly past first base, allowing Russell to advance to second. He took third on the play when second baseman Scooter Gennett's throw bounced through the infield for another error.
Counsell put the blame on the Brewers' infielders who had their heads down, but Gennett said, "It's one of those things where I get the error, so it's my fault."
Bryant, who hit 43 homers in the Minors last season, but is homerless in 72 at-bats since being called up April 17, then hit what looked like an inning-ending grounder, but shortstop Jean Segura bounced the throw to first. Bryant was called out, but the Cubs challenged the call by first-base umpire Tom Hallion and the call was overturned, allowing Russell to score what turned out to be the eventual winning run.
"That's a part of the game that I can control," Bryant said. "No matter how bad the game's going, you can always run hard and play as hard as you can. That's the way I've always played and it turned out helping the team today."
It turned out to win the game.
In the bottom of the inning, Braun's two-out, three-run homer off Hector Rondon pulled the Brewers within 7-6. Adam Lind and Khris Davis followed with consecutive singles, but Rondon came back to strike out Gerardo Parra to end the game.
"We continue to make not the physical errors, but the mental errors," Braun said. "Those are the things we need to avoid in order to get back to playing consistently winning baseball."
The home run was Braun's sixth of the regular season. Bryant is still awaiting his first.
The rookie said he is not bothered by the lack of home runs.
"I could go the rest of the year without hitting a home run and as long as I'm doing that, running hard, driving in runs, helping the team win, that's all I can control and I'll continue to do that," Bryant said.