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Crew flying high as end of first half nears

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Brewers have already surpassed their goal -- well, the first one.

Armed with a goal of getting to 45 wins before the All-Star break, the Brewers met that total on Monday, giving them six more games to try to add on. They certainly haven't slowed since then, earning their fourth straight win with a statement 11-2 victory over the Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

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CHICAGO -- The Brewers have already surpassed their goal -- well, the first one.

Armed with a goal of getting to 45 wins before the All-Star break, the Brewers met that total on Monday, giving them six more games to try to add on. They certainly haven't slowed since then, earning their fourth straight win with a statement 11-2 victory over the Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

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"It's awesome," Eric Thames said before the game. "To get to 90, that's like the golden number for every team -- 90 wins. So the way we're playing, especially this last series against a tough Baltimore club, that's great for us.

"We have four more games left. If we can play over .500 for it, that'd be amazing. Everybody would be very happy going into break."

One down, three to go.

Thursday's offensive eruption came in the third inning, which began innocuously enough. Jonathan Villar struck out on a 92.2-mph four-seamer for out No. 1. However, the Cubs wouldn't record another out until Villar's next at-bat, at which point the game was essentially over.

Video: MIL@CHC: Brewers plate seven runs in the 3rd vs. Cubs

Following the strikeout, Domingo Santana walked and Ryan Braun homered to make it 4-0. Jesus Aguilar, Hernan Perez and Manny Pina all singled to add another run and chase Cubs starter Mike Montgomery.

The Cubs brought in Jack Leathersich to try and fan the flames, but the Brewers drew three straight walks before a sac fly by Villar and a double by Santana pushed the lead to 9-0.

"It was a day where everybody contributed offensively. You do that, you get 11 runs," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's different guys every day."

And for a team that has scored six or more runs in 7 of its last 11 and eight or more in four of its last eight, the Brewers don't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, after improving to 7-1 over their last eight, the focus immediately shifted to what's next -- a trip to New York against a Yankees offense that has shown plenty of pop of its own.

In addition to having a quarter of the participants in the 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby in Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees entered Thursday ranking fifth in the Majors in home runs, third in slugging and second in runs per game. However, according to Braun, challenges like that can go a long way in terms of building confidence in the clubhouse.

"We think that we're for real. We really believe in ourselves," Braun said. "The deeper we get in the season, the more good teams we play against and we're able to win series against, I think the more that we continue to build that confidence."

Still, as the Brewers pushed their division lead over the Cubs to 4 1/2 games and improved to eight games above .500 for the first time since Sept. 2, 2014, they were holding off on any premature celebration.

The overall tone, echoed by Counsell and several of the players, was simple: They've put themselves in a good spot, but there's still plenty of work to be done.

"I'm not sure that it means much," Counsell said. "I think I'm more encouraged by how we're playing."

Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Brewers on Thursday.

Milwaukee Brewers