Milwaukee Brewers' Scooter Gennett (2) congratulates Kirk Nieuwenhuis (10) on his two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash
May 19, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) Junior Guerra used his split-finger fastball to carry the Milwaukee Brewers to victory.

Guerra struck out a career-high 11, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Chris Carter homered and the Milwaukee Brewers slowed the Chicago Cubs with a 5-3 victory Thursday.

''It is rare,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ''You don't see it that much, certainly from starting pitchers. You see it from the bullpen a little bit but we don't see it much in the game.''

It was the first time the Cubs had faced Guerra and his splitter.

''Their guy today, Guerra, pitched really, really well,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''They had a bunch of punch outs. We hadn't been swinging and missing like that in bit. So, you got to give them credit. He had a really good splitter going on.''

Guerra mixed in his other pitches to keep the Cubs guessing.

''It plays off his fastball very well,'' Counsell said. ''He's got enough velocity on his fastball to keep them honest. It really plays off that pitch.''

Guerra, speaking through translator Carlos Brizuela, said the speed variance between his splitter and fastball is just enough.

''You can't really tell the difference from the fastball,'' Guerra said after posting a season-high in strikeouts by a Brewers pitcher. ''It's hard and late movement. I've got a lot more confidence on it. I can throw it any count. I can throw it for strikes.''

Jason Hammel (5-1) allowed four runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 8-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 11 career starts against the Brewers.

''I felt pretty good,'' Hammel said. ''Home runs on hanging sliders; hanging sliders leave the yard. That's about it.''

Chicago, a big-league best 28-11, has lost three times in a four-game span for the first time this season. The Cubs scored seven runs in the three-game series.

Making his first start against Chicago, Guerra (3-0) gave up Dexter Fowler's 15th career leadoff homer but settled down to allow three runs and five hits in seven innings.

''They just beat us,'' Maddon said. ''We had opportunities, but we could not cash in.''

Tyler Thornburg got his first big league save, walking his first two batters before striking out Javier Baez, retiring Fowler on a flyout and fanning Jason Heyward.

Miguel Montero, in an 0-for-20 slide, had an RBI single in the second, but Nieuwenhuis scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half and Carter, in a 4-for-23 slump, tied the score with his 12th homer, a leadoff drive in the fourth.

Nieuwenhuis hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and Montero cut the gap to 4-3 in the seventh when he tripled and came home on Guerra's wild pitch.

''Not bad, just the home run, obviously,'' Maddon said. ''Nieuwenhuis, that's what put them on top. Overall, they didn't beat him up. The home run was the big play. I know he'd like to have that pitch back.''

Hernan Perez had an RBI single against Trevor Cahill in the eighth.

ZOBRIST STREAK

The Cubs Ben Zobrist walked in the sixth and has reached safely in 25 games since April 18.

CUBS ROLLING ON

The Cubs have gone 23-5 in their last 28 regular-season road games and moved to 16-3 when scoring first. Chicago is now 66-66 at Miller Park.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: Maddon wasn't concerned about having to play less than 13 hours after Wednesday's 2-1, 13-inning win, which took five hours. ''When you win a game like that, you'll find some energy the next day,'' he said. ... Rizzo was in the starting lineup after being replaced in the ninth inning Wednesday, after he was hit by a Jeremy Jeffress pitch. Maddon said inserting pinch-runner Javier Baez was strategic.

Brewers: LF Ryan Braun missed his second consecutive game with back stiffness. He had back surgery in the offseason and the team has been cautious with his health. The 32-year-old has gotten periodic days off for rest. Counsell said that Braun's right wrist, which kept him out of two games over the weekend, was fine. ... RF Domingo Santana was scratched due to right shoulder soreness and replaced by Ramon Flores. ... RHP Matt Garza (right lat), who has yet to play this season, threw his first bullpen session.

UP NEXT

Cubs: Jake Arrieta (7-0, 1.29 ERA) is to open a three-game series Friday at San Francisco and RHP Jake Peavy (1-4, 7.43). Chicago has won each of Arrieta's last 21 regular-season starts.

Brewers: RHP Wily Peralta (2-4, 7.30) is slated to pitch Friday at the New York Mets and LHP Steven Matz (5-1, 2.86).

You May Like