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Quintana revels in first hit, quality start vs. Crew

Cubs left-hander was 0-for-29 lifetime at plate before base knock
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MILWAUKEE -- After Jose Quintana collected his first Major League hit, a single to right in the third inning Friday night, he just wanted to touch the baseball. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar obliged, handing the ball to Quintana as he stood on first base.

"I was excited when I hit that ball to right field," Quintana said. "I'm not a hitter, but I tried to do my best. When I got the hit, I was real excited. I wanted to touch the ball -- it was good."

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MILWAUKEE -- After Jose Quintana collected his first Major League hit, a single to right in the third inning Friday night, he just wanted to touch the baseball. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar obliged, handing the ball to Quintana as he stood on first base.

"I was excited when I hit that ball to right field," Quintana said. "I'm not a hitter, but I tried to do my best. When I got the hit, I was real excited. I wanted to touch the ball -- it was good."

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Unfortunately for Quintana, he couldn't celebrate his first hit with a win. The Cubs lost, 2-1, to the Brewers, despite another quality start by the left-hander, who gave up both runs on four hits over six innings.

Video: CHC@MIL: Quintana rips single to right for first hit

His best innings were his last two, during which he needed 19 pitches to retire the side in the fifth and sixth frames.

"[Quintana's] stuff was fine, and they had some good at-bats. They were using the whole field, they weren't expanding the zone," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Give them credit, but give us credit for keeping them at two runs in spite of how well they hit the ball early on."

It was the first loss by a Cubs starting pitcher since the All-Star break -- they had been 10-0. Chicago's rotation has done well, compiling a 2.54 ERA and 10 quality starts in 14 second-half games. That's been a key to the Cubs' surge.

"It was a tough game," Quintana said of his outing. "The hitters did their best. It was a battle the whole game, especially in the beginning of the game. A couple good plays on defense -- that's amazing when the guys behind you try to do the best in every situation."

Video: CHC@MIL: Quintana strikes out Santana in the 1st

Maddon has seen teams like the Brewers before when he managed the Rays.

"It's almost like an [American League] East batting lineup," Maddon said of the Brewers. "You have to get them out within the strike zone, and that's what's so interesting about their group."

Quintana, who has 25 strikeouts over 19 innings in his three starts with the Cubs, had spent his entire career in the AL, so hitting doesn't exactly come naturally. He thought Friday was the first time he had ever been on the bases in a Major League game, and before he remembered an Interleague game June 12, 2012, against the Cardinals when he actually walked. Quintana was 0-for-29 at the plate prior to his hit on Friday.

He had the ball in a box on his locker shelf after the game. Quintana knows the Cubs acquired him to bolster the rotation in the final months of the season.

"Every game counts," Quintana said. "I'm really happy to feel that atmosphere every night when I go to the mound. It was a tough night for me."

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.

Chicago Cubs, Jose Quintana