CHICAGO -- After winning eight in a row against a trio of last-place teams, the Brewers faced a stiffer test Thursday against Kyle Hendricks and the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field.Hendricks pitched seven shutout innings, Kyle Schwarber homered off Chase Anderson in the sixth and was the only player from
CHICAGO -- After winning eight in a row against a trio of last-place teams, the Brewers faced a stiffer test Thursday against Kyle Hendricks and the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks pitched seven shutout innings, Kyle Schwarber homered off Chase Anderson in the sixth and was the only player from either team to touch third base, and Albert Almora Jr. and Javier Baez made highlight-reel catches for the Cubs to send the Brewers to a 1-0 loss in the opener of a four-game series, denying Milwaukee a ninth straight victory.
It was the Brewers' fourth shutout loss this season. Three of those shutout losses have come in five games against the Cubs.
"Three different guys," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, referring to losses started by Chicago's Jonathan Lester and Jose Quintana earlier this month at Miller Park before Hendricks' gem Thursday. "They've pitched some good games against us, for sure."
Schwarber's seventh home run came off tough-luck loser Anderson, who navigated seven innings on 82 pitches and limited the Cubs to that lone run on five hits. He continued a stretch of high-quality outings for Brewers starters, who own a 2.41 ERA over the team's last 12 games.
And with Jacob Barnes' scoreless eighth inning behind Anderson, Brewers relievers have not allowed an earned run in their last 28 innings.
"That's the foundation of this, that we pitch well and prevent runs," Counsell said. "So that continuing puts us in a good spot, for sure."
Asked whether there was any moral victory in the way the Brewers have pitched lately, Ryan Braun said, "We're way past the point of moral victories in a loss. We're not in that place as an organization. We want to win."
The Brewers, who outscored the Cubs 31-5 while winning the teams' final four Wrigley Field matchups a year ago, mustered four baserunners in seven innings against Hendricks -- all on two-out hits, including a Braun double in the first inning that nearly cleared the left-field wall. Hendricks struck out five and benefitted from slick defense when Almora made a running catch of Lorenzo Cain's deep drive to center field with two outs in the sixth inning and when Baez made a leaping catch of Braun's line drive leading off the seventh.
"[Hendricks] is always good against us and he was on top of his game tonight, so you know you don't get many opportunities," Braun said. "Leading off the inning there, if that ball gets over Baez's head, it's a baserunner to start the inning, maybe even a double. I hit it hard. But he's an incredible defender and got all the way up to make a play. Just a very well-pitched game with good defense all the way around. Fun game."
"It was just a really tightly, well-played baseball game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
The Brewers entered the night riding eight straight wins over the Reds, Marlins and Royals, each of whom reside at the bottom of their respective divisions. It was Milwaukee's longest winning streak since an 8-0 run from June 28-July 5, 2015.
"The Cubs are a good team. They won the World Series in '16 and the division last year," Anderson said. "We just didn't swing the bats like we wanted to tonight and I made one bad pitch. It was a great game all the way around.
"Our team is going to score runs. I have no doubt in my mind."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
A big part of Anderson's breakthrough last season was limiting the long ball, from 28 home runs allowed in 2016 to 14 home runs in 10 1/3 fewer innings in 2017. After Schwarber connected with a low, inside cutter for a line-drive shot over the ribbon board in right field, Anderson has surrendered seven home runs in his first six starts this season.
"You know, one pitch to Schwarber, I feel like if it's up two, three inches, he either pops it up or doesn't hit it," Anderson said. "I kind of put it where he likes it. Just one mistake."
Is he worried about the elevated home run rate?
"Not really. If I'm pitching deep in games, it doesn't really matter," Anderson said. "If I give up one run every time I go out there, I feel like I can give the team a chance to win, so it doesn't really matter."
Thursday marked the seventh 1-0 result in 335 matchups between the Brewers and Cubs. Chicago has won six of those games. The only Brewers win was July 5, 2004, at Miller Park, when Counsell homered off Cubs starter Matt Clement with one out in the bottom of the first inning, and Ben Sheets, Luis Vizcaino and Dan Kolb combined on a six-hitter with 17 strikeouts.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Braun hadn't appeared at first base since starting the first two games of the regular season at the position, but he looked right at home in the second inning. Braun made a diving stop to rob Jason Heyward of a hit down the line with two runners aboard and two outs, keeping the Cubs off the scoreboard against Anderson. It was the first true defensive gem of Braun's tenure at first base.
"That guy has probably taken away a solid 10 to 12 extra-base hits from me over the years," said Braun. "There are very few guys I would want to take an extra-base hit away from more, because of all the ones he's taken from me."
HE SAID IT
"A good start, I think it eases a lot of pressure. Your team has already played at a high level -- you're not trying to get there, or work your way there, or churn your way there. But you know, the show goes on every day, and you have to show up every day and put it together. You'll have to face tough times as well. But I feel like we've already weathered some difficult stuff and put ourselves in a good position early. It marches on from this day forward." -- Counsell, on Milwaukee's April winning streak
With veteran left-hander Wade Miley scheduled to make what could be his final rehab start later in the day at Double-A Biloxi, Brent Suter's start against Yu Darvish and the Cubs on Friday has added importance. Suter, 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in his five starts this season, is one of the Brewers pitchers vulnerable to being optioned to the Minors if the team opts to add Miley to the Major League roster. First pitch at Wrigley Field 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.