CHICAGO -- Jose Quintana was stingy, Javier Baez was dazzling, and the wind created havoc at Wrigley Field on Saturday in the Cubs' 3-0 victory over the Brewers.
"You have to be able to win games like that, low-scoring games," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We had not been able to early on, we just weren't pitching well enough, and now we are. I know it was beautiful blue skies, but it was cool out there and the wind was severe. Today's game was pretty much determined by the elements."
It was the Cubs' fourth shutout of the Brewers in seven meetings this season, and it's the first time they've done that against an opponent four times in a calendar month since shutting out the Padres in May 1969.
"We'll have a bat ceremony tonight and try to figure out a way to score some runs," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "We haven't scored runs. They've pitched well. The conditions here are low-scoring. But we've got to have better at-bats, no question. More pressure and better at-bats. Eventually, you'll break through if you keep doing that."
Pinch-hitter Thomas La Stella smacked a two-run single in the seventh to back Quintana, who held the Brewers to two hits over seven brilliant innings, striking out seven and taking advantage of the crazy conditions.
"I'm trying to be focused on every single pitch, and I did that," Quintana said. "We have a long season ahead, and I think that's a really good start for us."
Maddon could tell Quintana was in a good groove when he saw the lefty hit 93 mph on the radar gun.
Quintana got some help from his defense as well as the elements. Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. ran to shallow left field and stepped in front of Kyle Schwarber to catch Ryan Braun's fly ball to end the first inning. Second baseman Benjamin Zobrist, in his first game off the disabled list, made a diving catch of Jonathan Villar's liner to close the second.
"We lucked out a couple times," said Chicago's Kristopher Bryant, who was back in the lineup for the first time since being hit by a pitch in the head last Sunday. "The sun was bright. It was tough to play the outfield today, and infield, too. It's to be expected here -- day games, April, [the wind] blowing in every game. You have to deal with what you've got."
Baez made a sparkling defensive play to strand a baserunner at third base and also drove in a run with two out in the third on an RBI double that Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain probably has no trouble with on a normal day. Saturday's conditions weren't normal. Cain lost the ball in the sun and the 18 mph northerly wind, and it ended up dropping in shallow center after deflecting off the glove of shortstop Orlando Arcia.
"The first [inning] of the game -- Albert running off Schwarber told the entire story," Maddon said. "When we scored on the popup [by Baez] -- you could see as soon as the ball went up that Cain could not see it. I love the way our guys covered one another."
In the third, Baez also deked Brewers catcher Manny Pina into throwing to second, then stole third base.
How difficult was it to deal with the sun and the wind and the cold?
"It was just hard," Chicago's Jason Heyward said. "You just hope for the best. … Today was worse than yesterday. I felt [the wind] stayed more consistently blowing in across, and the sky was tougher today with a lot less clouds."
• Have a day, Javy: Baez a bother for Brewers
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One-two punch: For the second straight day, Almora and Baez extended their hit streaks with back-to-back hits. With two out in the third, Almora singled to left off Brewers starter Junior Guerra to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. Baez matched that with his "Wrigley Field double," driving in Almora. Baez now has a career-high 11-game hitting streak, too. On Friday, the two had back-to-back hits in the first inning to keep their hitting streaks alive.
"He's been playing really good baseball," Maddon said of Baez, who now has 26 RBIs, tops in the National League. "He picked up another RBI in a very unique manner, but he got one."
Baez's defense: Cain doubled to lead off the fourth for the first hit off Quintana, and he reached third on a wild pitch. But he was stranded there, thanks to a dazzling play by Baez, who was playing shortstop and slid, then snared Domingo Santana's grounder, spun around and threw in time to first. Santana evened the score in the seventh when he reached on an error by Baez, who couldn't get his glove on the grounder.
"[Baez] made a couple good plays -- and Zobrist made a good catch, too," Quintana said. "That pushed me a little bit extra. I tried to get zeros on the score."
Quintana now has thrown 24 scoreless innings against the Brewers, dating to last July. That includes a shutout last Sept. 24 at Miller Park and six scoreless innings on April 8 in Milwaukee. Quintana's outing also was the fifth straight quality start by a Cubs pitcher.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Zobrist singled to lead off the seventh against the Brewers' Oliver Drake and reached third on Heyward's double. Both runners then scored on La Stella's bloop single to left, thanks to heads-up baserunning by Heyward.
"I just tried to watch [Arcia] 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," Heyward said. "As soon as he kind of looked away, I said, 'I'm going.'"
HE SAID IT
"We love playing the Cubs. 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." -- Santana
"We're playing good baseball because we are catching it, we are pitching it and we are just scoring enough runs. That, to me, is the formula for 90-plus wins." -- Maddon
Tyler Chatwood will close the series against the Brewers on Sunday. He's coming off his first win with the Cubs in which he gave up one run over six innings against the Indians. That's the good news. However, his walks are still high -- he issued five vs. the Indians. He's 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA in four games (three starts) against the Brewers in his career. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field, and Milwaukee will counter with right-hander Zach Davies.