MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Schwarber, Benjamin Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Jacob Arrieta made sure the Cubs would have a nice drive home to Chicago down Interstate 94.Schwarber and Zobrist each smacked solo homers while Heyward drove in three runs to back Arrieta, who continued his April magic in leading the Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Schwarber, Benjamin Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Jacob Arrieta made sure the Cubs would have a nice drive home to Chicago down Interstate 94.
Schwarber and Zobrist each smacked solo homers while Heyward drove in three runs to back Arrieta, who continued his April magic in leading the Cubs to a 7-4 victory on Sunday to capture the series over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Making his 100th career start as a Cub, Arrieta struck out 10 over seven innings for his 13th career double-digit strikeout game and his ninth straight win in the month of April. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Arrieta leads the Major Leagues with 42 wins.
If you followed the radar-gun readings, Arrieta's velocity was around 91-92 mph, and that was OK with Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
"I love it, actually," Maddon said. "His delivery and location and pitchability was outstanding. I'd much rather see what we saw today than 94, 95 [mph] all over the map, absolutely."
Arrieta knows the drop in velocity from a year ago is a hot topic.
"Everybody wants to talk about it -- I don't care about that," Arrieta said. "I know I'm smart enough to work around that, and the velocity is still good enough to get it by guys and do certain things in certain situations with it."
His outing wasn't perfect, as Ryan Braun hit his third career homer off Arrieta in the third inning -- the Brewers' last hit before Domingo Santana's solo homer with two outs in the ninth. Braun is now 7-for-21 with three home runs in his career against Arrieta.
"I think he would probably say he wasn't at his best today, and he still dominated us," Braun said. "That speaks volumes to how good he is."
Schwarber connected in the second inning off Brewers starter Zach Davies, launching a 2-1 pitch 427 feet to straightaway center and off the scoreboard for his second homer of the season. According to Statcast™, the exit velocity was 107 mph and the ball went out in 4.9 seconds. Schwarber is definitely digging his role as leadoff hitter. He began the day ranked first in the National League in pitches per plate appearance.
• Davies settles down after rocky first
Zobrist homered with two outs in the seventh, as the Cubs reached double digits in hits for the second straight game. They would've had more, but Keon Broxton robbed Heyward of a potential extra-base hit with a leaping catch at the wall in center to end the ninth. Heyward tipped his helmet to Broxton after the play.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Web gem: Braun not only kept the Brewers in the game with his homer, but he helped stop the Cubs in the second with a great catch. The Cubs had two on with two outs when Heyward lined a ball to left. Braun dove and snared it in the air in the gap to end the inning. It was impressive, especially considering Braun missed Saturday's game because of tightness in his lower back.
"If I didn't feel like I had an opportunity to perform and ultimately to help us win a game, I wouldn't be playing," Braun said. "I was moving around OK. Obviously, that ended up being a play that didn't have a huge outcome on the game, but at the time, it was a big play."
Quick start: The Cubs jumped on Davies quickly by sending nine batters to the plate in the first. Chicago loaded the bases with one out, and Addison Russell smacked the first pitch he saw to center for a two-run double. Heyward followed suit, driving the first pitch from Davies to right-center and plating a pair. Davies needed 34 pitches to get through the inning. Heyward, trying to come back after batting .230 last year, has a hit in all five games this season.
"I talked to him a little [Saturday], and not as a pep talk but to reinforce him," Maddon said. "I told him, 'You look really good, just keep trusting what you're doing.' I think it's outstanding.'" More >
"We don't really know what to expect. There's a lot of guys who don't have long track records. There's a lot of guys with tremendous upside. I think we've seen some good things, we've seen some bad things, and I would imagine we'll continue to see some of both of those things as we move forward." -- Braun, on whether the Brewers can draw any conclusions from their 2-5 opening homestand
"Who knows? I'll put that thing on Wednesday and I might change my mind." -- Arrieta, on whether he'll wear his World Series ring a lot. He said no, but he may reconsider.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Since beginning the season 0-for-14, Chicago's Kristopher Bryant is now 7-for-13 in his last three games. He followed a three-hit game on Saturday with another on Sunday, the third time he has had back-to-back three-hit games in his young career.
STRUGGLING AT THE TOP
Leadoff man Jonathan Villar was a sparkplug for the Brewers last season, but he is off to a sluggish start to 2017. Besides an error in the field that led to an unearned run, he finished 0-for-4 Sunday, including strikeouts in each of his three times up against Arrieta, giving Villar 15 strikeouts in 30 at-bats to start his season. That's a pace of 347 whiffs. Mark Reynolds holds the Major League record with 223 strikeouts in '09.
"The strikeouts, we have to get that under control," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's too high right now, and he's struggling a little bit. Defensively, we've talked about it; it's a work in progress, and we just have to keep working at it."
Cubs: The Cubs finally get to come home to Wrigley Field on Monday, opening a three-game series against the Dodgers. The championship banners will be raised before the game. Jonathan Lester gets the start. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
"It'll be 'playoff-esque,'" Maddon said of the anticipated reception.
Brewers: After taking Monday off, the Brewers begin a stretch of 16 games in as many days on Tuesday in Toronto, where they will play in the Blue Jays' home opener. Wily Peralta will start the 6:07 p.m. CT affair, trying to build on a streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings dating to last season.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
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.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.