For the second time in three days, a Milwaukee Brewers rookie stole the show with some ninth-inning heroics. But on Tuesday night, pinch-hitter Logan Schafer’s game-winner traveled a considerably shorter distance than the last one.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Schafer came off the bench and laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi from third base and give the Brewers a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
“I just had to get it down,” Schafer told Fox Sports Wisconsin. “There’s nothing tough about that. The pressure’s on the pitcher. When I saw the sign, I knew what I had to do and I got it done.”
Chicago reliever Justin Grimm (0-2) got to the ball, but made a futile throw to first base long after Bianchi slid across the plate with the winning run.
The irony of Schafer delivering a game-winning bunt was that he was pinch-hitting for Sean Halton, another Brewer rookie who hit a walkoff home run on Sunday afternoon to beat the Cincinnati Reds.
Scooter Gennett came to the plate with orders to bunt, but he missed the first attempt and fouled off the second. An agitated Roenicke motioned from the dugout for Gennett to stop trying to drag bunt and just lay down a sacrifice.
With two strikes on him, Gennett didn’t get a particularly good bunt down, but it got the job done. Grimm mishandled it and everyone was safe on the play. Caleb Gindl then popped up a 2-0 pitch to shortstop Starlin Castro for the first out of the inning. Schafer followed with his game-winning bunt.
Jim Henderson (5-5) got his second win in three days after pitching a scoreless ninth. He allowed a leadoff double to Nate Schierholtz, but then got a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to get out of the jam.
The Brewers took an early lead thanks to some more shoddy fielding by the Cubs. Ramirez led off the bottom of the second with a double to right-center and went to third when center fielder Ryan Sweeney bobbled the ball. Gomez followed with a sacrifice fly to center to give the Crew a 1-0 lead.
That lead stood for awhile as starters Marco Estrada for Milwaukee and Jeff Samardzija for Chicago settled in. Estrada didn’t allow a run through his first six innings of work, but things got messy in the seventh.
Samardzija had escaped a big jam in the bottom of the sixth when Norichika Aoki led off the inning with a triple into the right-field corner. Jean Segura popped up and Jonathan Lucroy hit a hard grounder to third. Aoki broke for the plate and was caught in a rundown between third and home. After he was tagged out by third baseman Donnie Murphy, Lucroy was thrown out trying to advance to second.
After the Brewers squandered their opportunity, the Cubs struck in the seventh. Junior Lake led off with a double into the left-field corner and moved up to third on Anthony Rizzo’s groundout. After Schierholtz walked, Sweeney lofted a fly ball to right field that was deep enough to get Lake home to tie the game.
Welington Castillo then gave Chicago the lead with a home run to left field—his eighth of the year, but his fourth in his last seven games.
But Samardzija couldn’t hold that advantage.
Ramirez walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh and Gomez followed with a laser down the left field line that stayed just inside the foul pole and just above the wall for his 20th home run of the season—a new career-high—and a tie ballgame.
Estrada turned in another solid outing, working seven innings and allowing three runs on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts, but got a no-decision. In seven starts since returning from a hamstring injury, Estrada is 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 44.2 innings.
Brandon Kintzler got into a bit of a mess in the eighth, but pitched out of it. Dioner Navarro, batting for Samardzija, doubled and went to third on Castro’s infield single with one out. But Kintzler froze Lake with a fastball at the knees and got Rizzo to bounce out.
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