Rookie right-hander Johnny Hellweg wasn’t otherworldly on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but he was much better than he was in his first go-around in the big leagues. Hellweg limited the Chicago Cubs to three runs on four hits in six innings and picked up his first big-league win as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cubs 5-3.
Hellweg (1-3) lowered his ERA from 10.97 to 8.64 and got enough help from the offense to get the win with some bullpen help. He was the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year, going 12-5 with a 3.16 ERA at Triple-A Nashville, and he also won the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor that was announced Friday. But in four big-league appearances in June and July, he was 0-3 and walked 13 batters and allowed 20 runs, 13 earned, in just 10.2 innings.
The Brewers took control with a big fourth inning. With the Crew trailing 2-0, Jonathan Lucroy started the inning with Milwaukee’s first hit off Chicago starter Jake Arrieta, a solid single to right field. Aramis Ramirez followed with a walk and Scooter Gennett slapped a single past Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro, who broke the wrong way on the ball, to score Lucroy and sent Ramirez to third. Caleb Gindl worked a walk to load the bases.
Juan Francisco struck out on three pitches for the first out of the inning, but Logan Schafer—batting eighth and playing center field in place of Carlos Gomez, who was given an off day to rest his sore knee—lined a shot into the gap in right-center field that cleared the bases.
It was Schafer’s second bases-loaded triple of the season and put the Crew up 4-2.
Chicago had struck first in the bottom of the second inning. Brian Bogusevic led off with a walk and Luis Valbuena followed with a home run into right-field, his 10th of the season—tying a career high.
Hellweg reached new career highs with the six innings pitched and 99 pitches thrown and his hard sinker was working for much of his outing, as 12 of the 17 batted-ball outs he recorded were on the ground. He walked three and struck out just one.
The Cubs made it more interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Bogusevic drilled home run into the right-field seats, his fourth of the season, to make it 4-3.
But the Milwaukee bullpen and defense made it stand up. Rob Wooten worked a scoreless seventh, facing the minimum despite having a man reach on an error and another get aboard on an infield single.
Gindl misplayed a liner by Welington Castillo to lead off the inning, dropping the ball in left field. But Castillo tried to advance to second and was thrown out by a large margin by Gindl. Pinch-hitter Junior Lake reached on an infield single to third base but was thrown out by Lucroy attempting to steal.
Brandon Kintzler worked around a one-out single by Anthony Rizzo when the next batter, Nate Schierholtz, hit a screamer right at Yuniesky Betancourt at first base. Betancourt speared the liner and tagged out Rizzo for an inning-ending double play.
The Brewers got an insurance run in the ninth. With one out, Norichika Aoki reached on an error by Castro and, one out later, scored when Lucroy tripled just over the outstretched glove of Cubs center fielder Ryan Sweeney on the warning track.
Reliever Blake Parker then plunked the next batter, Ramirez, who glared out at the mound, but no incident ensued.
Jim Henderson worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 23rd save after having blown his last two save chances.
Arrieta (2-1) took the loss for Chicago allowing four runs on just three hits over five innings. He walked three and fanned four. Six Cub pitchers combined to issue seven walks on the afternoon.
With the win, Milwaukee moved a game ahead of Chicago back into sole possession of fourth place in the National League Central and with a win Sunday can secure their seventh straight non-losing road series.
Yovani Gallardo (10-9) is scheduled to start for the Brewers on Sunday, with right-hander Scott Baker slated to start for Chicago. Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched in the big leagues for almost two years. His last start was on Sept. 24, 2011, for the Minnesota Twins at Cleveland. He signed as a free agent with the Cubs last November and Sunday will mark his first appearance for them, although he did make eight starts in the minor leagues this season.
Game time is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, with the game carried regionally on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
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