LOS ANGELES -- Lorenzo Cain climbed the wall, and the Brewers climbed back to first place just in time for the calendar to flip to August.In a 1-0 win over the Dodgers hours after Milwaukee's bid to land a starter at Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline fell short, Cain drove in
LOS ANGELES -- Lorenzo Cain climbed the wall, and the Brewers climbed back to first place just in time for the calendar to flip to August.
In a 1-0 win over the Dodgers hours after Milwaukee's bid to land a starter at Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline fell short, Cain drove in the game's only run with a double in the third inning before saving a run in the seventh with the best of a series of superlative defensive plays. He leaped at the center-field wall to pull back Cody Bellinger's high fly, preserving what became a two-hit shutout for Wade Miley and relievers Joakim Soria and Jeremy Jeffress.
"I said, 'Damn,'" Bellinger said. "That's all you can say."
The visitor's clubhouse had much more to say about Cain's latest batch of heroics and Miley's best start as a Brewer, but first, a look at the standings as July came to a close. With their fifth victory in the first six games of an eight-game trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the eighth victory in their last 11 games overall, the 63-47 Brewers lifted into a virtual tie with the 61-45 Cubs atop the National League Central.
Miley pitched seven scoreless innings in the sort of outing club officials envisioned when they patiently waited for the veteran left-hander to recover from groin and rib-cage injuries this season. He allowed two hits and two walks with five strikeouts -- and got two big assists from Cain. First, the run-scoring double off L.A.'s Walker Buehler in the third inning, then the catch of what looked like a home run off Bellinger's bat in the seventh.
A night earlier, Cain was kicking himself for letting Manny Machado's home run elude his grasp in the ninth inning of the Brewers' 5-2 win.
"I pride myself on making plays out there," Cain said, "so to not get to it, it definitely stuck with me."
Another day offered another chance.
"Wade had pitched such a beautiful game," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "Really, he was outstanding. He needed a little help at the end, and Lo Cain gave him a little bit of help."
Said Miley: "When I threw the pitch, I didn't finish it like I wanted to, and [Bellinger] put a good swing on it. I was like, 'Come on.' And then I saw 'Lo' tracking it. I said, 'Do it.' He did it."
Actually, Cain did it twice against Bellinger. In the fifth, Cain tracked a line drive to the left-center field gap for another inning-ending out.
"Someone showed me Bellinger's reaction," Cain said, fighting a smile. "Tough night for him tonight, but that's how this game is. It's definitely tough on hitters."
New Brewers third baseman Mike Moustakas made a pair of hit-saving plays earlier in the game and transplanted second baseman Travis Shaw made that first double-play turn he had been so eagerly anticipating to help Miley navigate a season-high seven innings.
He worked quickly between his 101 pitches in seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.53 after six Brewers starts before another newcomer, Soria, pitched a scoreless eighth and Jeffress, not closer Corey Knebel, finished the two-hit shutout and earned his fourth save.
The Brewers' ninth shutout victory this season came only hours after general manager David Stearns said he tried hard to land a starting pitcher in addition to Tuesday's other trade with Baltimore for infielder Jonathan Schoop.
Stearns will keep trying in August, when teams can trade players providing they clear waivers first. But the outside perception of the Brewers' need for pitching may exceed the need itself; Miley's quality start was Milwaukee's 63rd this season, trailing only Justin Verlander's Astros in the Major Leagues. And Brewers starting pitchers are seventh of 30 teams with a 3.80 ERA.
"For me, the pitching has been carrying our team all year long," Cain said. "For me, that speaks for itself."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yelich extends streak: A couple of times in recent days, Christian Yelich has extended Major League Baseball's longest active hitting streak with an infield single. He did so in the third inning on Tuesday to make it 15 games in a row, and that hit loomed large because it extended the frame for Cain's RBI double.
"Both him and Lorenzo -- and we've got a great angle sitting on the first-base side at Miller Park and here at Dodger Stadium -- the last 30 feet they run, it feels like it takes three steps, maybe. Even two steps, sometimes," said Counsell. "They just cover those last 30 feet of the 'hard 90' so quickly. That little bit of extra burst and closing speed is what makes you beat those plays out."
Out at home: The Brewers tried to score a second run in the inning when Moustakas hit a hard single off second baseman Enrique Hernandez. With two outs, third-base coach Ed Sedar waved Cain home, where he was out on a close play. The Brewers considered challenging whether catcher Austin Barnes violated the plate-blocking rule, but opted against.
"I'm not sure about the rule and I haven't seen the replay yet. I felt like he blocked the plate," Cain said. "But we didn't challenge it, so I just moved on from it."
Explaining the Brewers' decision not to challenge, Counsell said, "I think in the end he ended up in front of 'Lo' and blocking his way, but I think he set up in the right spot, and that's the problem. He set up in the right spot and he went to catch the ball, which you're allowed to do, [and it took him] into the runner. We just saw the chances of it being overturned as very small."
Chase Anderson gets the start for the Brewers when the series continues Wednesday at 9:10 p.m. CT. The team is 12-9 when he takes the hill, including a win on this road trip in which Anderson allowed a run on four hits in six innings. Lefty Rich Hill is scheduled to start for L.A.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.