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Brewers ride 7-run 3rd to rout of Cubs

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Brewers made a statement on Thursday at Wrigley Field against the defending World Series champion Cubs by posting an 11-2 win to open their largest lead in the National League Central at 4 1/2 games. Ryan Braun smacked a two-run homer and Domingo Santana hit a pair of RBI doubles as part of a four-hit day to lead Milwaukee to its fourth straight win.

The Brewers now are eight games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 2, 2014 (73-65).

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CHICAGO -- The Brewers made a statement on Thursday at Wrigley Field against the defending World Series champion Cubs by posting an 11-2 win to open their largest lead in the National League Central at 4 1/2 games. Ryan Braun smacked a two-run homer and Domingo Santana hit a pair of RBI doubles as part of a four-hit day to lead Milwaukee to its fourth straight win.

The Brewers now are eight games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 2, 2014 (73-65).

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"I don't think you really can make many statements in July. For us, it felt like a significant game because [we're] such an inexperienced team," Braun said. "Most of these guys haven't played in many big games, many meaningful games. [But] as far as meaningful games in July go, it probably doesn't get too much more significant than this."

Video: MIL@CHC: Schwarber receives a standing O in return

This was a makeup game of a May 20 contest that was postponed because of rain. The positive for the Cubs was the return of Kyle Schwarber, who played 11 games with Triple-A Iowa after opening the season with the big league team and batting .171. He went 0-for-4. How much did things get out of hand? Cubs outfielder Jon Jay was called on to pitch the ninth.

"That game goes in the trash can as quickly as any game you've ever played," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Video: MIL@CHC: Maddon on pitching, Jay's scoreless 9th

The Brewers jumped on starter Mike Montgomery quickly, tallying in the first on one of Santana's doubles. They sent 13 batters to the plate in a seven-run third, highlighted by Braun's home run, his 10th, and didn't let up.

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"Give them credit -- they're a good team, they swing the bats well and they're hot for a reason," Montgomery said of the Brewers.

The offense was enough for Zach Davies, who scattered two runs on five hits over six innings and didn't walk anyone. The right-hander is the fifth pitcher in the NL to reach 10 wins before the All-Star break.

"I think Zach did a great job. The best thing for me was that he got ahead in the count frequently today," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Him getting ahead was very reminiscent of some of the better games he pitched last year, for sure. That was outstanding to see."

Video: MIL@CHC: Davies goes six strong to earn 10th win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Batting around: The Brewers sent 13 batters to the plate in the third, and started their scoring with Braun's two-run homer. Montgomery also gave up an RBI single to Manny Pina before departing. Jack Leathersich took over and walked the first three batters he faced, forcing in two more runs, then Jonathan Villar hit a sacrifice fly and Santana followed with an RBI double for a 9-0 lead.The seven runs were a season high by a Cubs opponent this year.

The outburst marked the fourth time in the last eight games the Brewers have tallied eight or more runs, while Santana came away with the first four-hit game of his career.

"It's been good times. Since April, we still have a goal. We said we need to improve," Santana said. "Every game is a statement for us. Every game we're just trying to go out there and win."

Video: MIL@CHC: Santana notches four hits and drives in two

Great catch: Willson Contreras homered with one out in the Chicago fourth, but then Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton made the catch of the game. Broxton snared Jason Heyward's fly ball on the run, then crashed into the ivy-covered brick wall in center. Broxton spun and then fell to one knee. He came up limping but stayed in the game. Broxton knows all about the brick wall. He fractured his right wrist last September in a game at Wrigley Field.

Video: MIL@CHC: Broxton crashes into the wall on great snag

QUOTABLE
"You guys know the off-days are precious. You never want to give those away. And obviously the game that got rained out ended up being a beautiful day so certainly we would've loved to have played then. But aside from that, every time you play against teams in your division -- and obviously we understand how good these guys are -- the significance of the game itself is going to give us an edge. I don't think we needed any added motivation or anything like that, but certainly, obviously we would've loved to have had the off-day. So if you're going to play on an off-day, it's nice to get a win."
-- Braun, on the added motivation playing against the Cubs after the postponement

Video: MIL@CHC: Braun cracks a two-run shot to center

PITCHING IN
Jay took the mound in the ninth inning for the Cubs, and his first pitch to pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt was a 56-mph changeup. He did get Vogt to fly out, then Villar popped up to catcher Victor Caratini and another 56-mph change to Santana was called a strike. Santana then singled to left. Yadiel Rivera flied out to left to end the inning. Jay is the second Cubs position player to pitch this year. Catcher Miguel Montero chipped in with one inning in relief on May 6 in an 11-6 loss to the Yankees.

Maddon asked Jay in the fifth inning if he could pitch, and it came down to the veteran outfielder or Tommy La Stella. Jay got the call.

"I might have broken a record for slowest pitches," Jay said. "I definitely don't have a future as a pitcher."

Video: MIL@CHC: Outfielder Jay notches a scoreless 9th

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: The Brewers will finish out the first half of the season with a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA) will get the ball for the series opener at 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday. Guerra has lasted exactly four innings in each of his last two starts, giving up a combined 16 hits, 12 earned runs and six walks in a pair of losses.

Cubs: Eddie Butler will open the Cubs' three-game series against the Pirates on Friday at Wrigley Field. In his last start, he gave up four runs over 3 2/3 innings and took the loss against the Reds. He's 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA at home. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.

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

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