CHICAGO -- Between the cold, the wind, the sun and Jose Quintana, Saturday afternoon was no fun for the suddenly struggling Brewers.Quintana extended his scoreless streak against Milwaukee to 24 innings in the Brewers' 3-0 loss at Wrigley Field, where the only run before the seventh inning scored on a
CHICAGO -- Between the cold, the wind, the sun and Jose Quintana, Saturday afternoon was no fun for the suddenly struggling Brewers.
Quintana extended his scoreless streak against Milwaukee to 24 innings in the Brewers' 3-0 loss at Wrigley Field, where the only run before the seventh inning scored on a routine popup that turned into an RBI double. The loss left the Brewers on the brink of being swept in the four-game series on the heels of an eight-game winning streak.
"We'll have a bat ceremony tonight and try to figure out a way to score some runs," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who obviously hadn't lost his sense of humor.
Chicago has dominated the season series so far. The Brewers are 1-6 against the Cubs while averaging 1.3 runs per game, including four of their five shutout losses.
In their 21 other contests, the Brewers are 15-6 against the Padres, Cardinals, Mets, Reds, Marlins and Royals while averaging 4.7 runs per game.
"They've pitched well, and the conditions here are low-scoring. But we've got to have better at-bats, no question," Counsell said. "More pressure and better at-bats. Eventually, you'll break through if you keep doing that."
Bundled up against 18 mph winds off Lake Michigan that made it feel like 37 degrees at first pitch, the Brewers mustered two hits and a walk in Quintana's seven dominant innings while striking out seven times. The left-hander entered the day with a 7.78 ERA, but you wouldn't know it from his work against Milwaukee, which amounts to 13 scoreless innings over two 2018 starts.
Quintana also pitched scoreless baseball in his final 2017 start against the Brewers, including a shutout at Miller Park last Sept. 24.
"We haven't figured him out," Counsell said. "It was difficult conditions, but I don't think conditions had a lot to do with it. There wasn't many balls we hit hard. For whatever reason, we haven't been able to pressure him at all."
Said Domingo Santana: "I mean, what are you going to say? He's very good against us."
Can a pitcher have an entire team's number?
"Yeah, just like a hitter has a pitcher's, too," Santana said.
Brewers starter Junior Guerra was just as tough for six innings, allowing one run on three hits to leave him with a 0.82 ERA after four big league starts this season. One of those hits warranted an asterisk, as Javier Baez's fly ball to center field in the third inning would have been routine on most days, but turned into one of the handful of popups with which the Brewers struggled on Saturday.
Unable to see the ball in the sun, center fielder Lorenzo Cain called for help from right fielder Santana as shortstop Orlando Arcia charged in. The ball ticked off Arcia's glove for what was ruled an RBI double.
"When I noticed [Cain motioning], that's when I took off," Arcia said. "At the last second, I kind of took my eye off the ball to see where Santana was, and when I looked up, the ball had moved again with the sun. That extra little bit, I missed it."
Cubs defenders had no such trouble, in part because only five of the Brewers' outs were on fly balls. The Cubs converted every chance.
"They played better defense than us, certainly," Counsell said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cain stranded: After the Cubs scored in the bottom of the third, the Brewers missed a golden opportunity to answer when Cain led off the fourth with a double and took third on a wild pitch. Quintana held firm, striking out Christian Yelich and retiring Ryan Braun on a foul pop before Baez made a sparkling play at shortstop to rob Santana of a tying hit up the middle.
"We love playing the Cubs," said Santana. "It's a very competitive series all the time, and it's always good to win. At the same time, we've been grinding out there. The wind today helped them. The time we had a chance, Baez made a great play. We just have to keep grinding, keep going out there and playing hard."
Momentary lapse: The Cubs tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh when pinch-hitter Thomas La Stella blooped a single over shortstop against Oliver Drake, marking the first earned runs against a Brewers reliever in nearly two weeks. Jason Heyward scored the second run on the play by hustling home when Arcia held the ball too long in shallow left field.
"I just tried to watch him the whole time to see if he was going to keep his eyes on me and see if he was going to stay ready for me to move," said Heyward. "As soon as he kind of looked away, I said, 'I'm going.'"
Said Counsell: "Arcia just got a little lazy getting the ball in. I think he was frustrated he didn't get to the ball. Unless I got it wrong, that's what I saw."
The 32-inning streak for Brewers relievers without an earned run was the third-longest in franchise history. The longest such streak for a Brewers bullpen was 35 1/3 innings in 2000.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Cain's catch of a Willson Contreras line drive to right-center field in the fourth inning was special under any conditions, and remarkable in the wind. According to Statcast™, Cain had only an 11 percent catch probability, requiring he cover 91 feet in 4.6 seconds. Cain's sprint speed was 29.9 feet/sec, just shy of 30 ft/sec considered elite. It was ruled a five-star catch.
HE SAID IT
"Every day I come here, I think, 'This park is way too small. It's just not big enough.' Then, you play on days like this weekend and you see it's not too small. You'll have Aprils like this where you can't get balls out of the park. It becomes a different game. You play in both situations in this park. They're different games. They have to be played differently." -- Counsell
Zach Davies has won his last two starts while allowing two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, and he will try to stay on a roll Sunday when he starts the finale of a four-game series against the Cubs. Davies is 4-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five career starts at Wrigley Field. Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood's first pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.