Soler, Cubs hand Brewers 6th straight loss
CHICAGO (AP) Jorge Soler has never lacked confidence. Even before being promoted to the major leagues last week, the Cuban slugger declared this season to be ''his time.''
But his blistering start with the Chicago Cubs has caught even him off-guard.
Soler doubled twice and scored a run in his Wrigley Field debut as the Cubs beat Milwaukee 4-2 Monday, handing the Brewers their sixth straight loss and knocking them out of the NL Central lead.
Soler became just the third player in the last 100 years to get at least one extra-base hit in each of his first five games in the majors. Will Middlebrooks did it for Boston in 2012 and Enos Slaughter for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938.
So far, Soler is batting .526 with three homers and seven RBIs.
''I have been a little bit surprised,'' he said through a translator. ''I expected it to go well, but not as well as it's gone so far.''
Welington Castillo and Luis Valbuena homered to back Justin Turner (5-8).
Turner won in just his second start for Chicago after being acquired from Miami last month. The right-hander allowed just one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
It was a much better result than his first start in Cincinnati last week in which he allowed five runs in four innings.
''It's definitely a step in the right direction,'' Turner said. ''For me, getting that fresh start and just kind of resetting after the ups and downs of this season has been huge.''
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 27 chances.
Jimmy Nelson (2-6), called up from the minors to make the start, gave up three runs in six innings.
''He made a couple mistakes, but I thought it was pretty good,'' Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke.
The Brewers fell one game behind division-leading St. Louis.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Soler doubled with one out and scored on Castillo's broken-bat single.
Castillo then extended the advantage to 3-0 in the fourth with a line-drive into the left-field bleachers. It was his 11th homer of the season.
Soler led off the sixth with a double off the wall in right-center field and raced to third when center fielder Gerardo Parra bobbled the ball for an error. Soler was left on third as the next three Cubs batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.
Khris Davis homered in the Milwaukee seventh, finishing Turner. Parra then homered on the first pitch from reliever Blake Parker, making it 3-2.
Valbuena homered in the eighth.
Brewers: OF Carlos Gomez was out of the lineup a day after he felt something pop in his left wrist during a swing in Sunday's 15-5 loss at San Francisco. X-rays taken Sunday were negative, but Roenicke said more tests were upcoming. He said the injury had improved overnight and was hopeful that hard-swinging Gomez would only be out a few days.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo missed his seventh straight game with lower back tightness. ''He's still day-to-day, still a little stiff,'' manager Rick Renteria said. ''If it doesn't clear up (soon), maybe we get an MRI.''
The second game of the series is Tuesday night with Milwaukee RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-7, 3.26) taking on Jake Arrieta (7-5, 2.88).
The Cubs welcomed the Jackie Robinson West Little League team to Wrigley Field. The youngsters recently reached the Little League championship game. The Cubs haven't played in the World Series since 1945 and haven't won one since 1908.
''If the enthusiasm of the young men on Jackie Robinson West can be equaled by the young men that we have in our clubhouse,'' Renteria said, ''we (will) have a good shot.''