Braun hits 300th homer, Brewers beat Cubs 2-0
CHICAGO — Ryan Braun hit his 300th homer, Jimmy Nelson combined with three relievers on a five-hitter, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in the first regular-season Friday night game at Wrigley Field.
Braun hit a two-run drive in the first inning against John Lackey. Nelson pitched four-hit ball over five innings before leaving with a sore right arm, and the Brewers opened the weekend series on a winning note after dropping four of five.
Milwaukee pulled within four games of Chicago for the NL Central lead.
Nelson (12-6) struck out seven and walked two while winning his third straight start. He singled off the left-field wall in the fifth and had to dive back to first after rounding the base.
Josh Hader retired the side in the sixth and seventh before walking Jon Jay leading off the eighth. Anthony Swarzak retired the next three batters, and Corey Knebel worked the ninth for his 33rd save in 38 chances.
He gave up a two-out single to Jason Heyward before striking out Javier Baez.
Lackey (11-11) settled down after Braun connected, holding the Brewers to two runs and four hits over seven innings. He struck out nine and walked two, but Chicago came up short in what was originally scheduled as a day game.
The Cubs, closing in on their third straight playoff berth, got permission from the city to push the start back a few hours because they didn’t want a short turnaround coming off a game at Pittsburgh the previous night.
Outscored a combined 21-8 in a three-game sweep at Cincinnati, the Brewers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first. Eric Thames doubled off the wall in left-center leading off and Braun hit a two-run shot beyond the shrubs in center field.
Cubs: SS Addison Russell (plantar fasciitis in the right foot) is pain-free and able to do some light jogging as he works his way back from an injury that has sidelined him since early August. He will likely play some simulated games when he’s ready, before being activated from the disabled list. … C Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) was to be re-evaluated in Chicago after serving as the DH for Class-A Myrtle Beach on Friday.
LHP Mike Montgomery (5-7, 3.38 ERA) makes another start for the Cubs — this time with Jake Arrieta hurt, after pitching well in Jon Lester’s absence — while RHP Chase Anderson (8-3, 3.06) goes for Milwaukee. Montgomery is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts since being reinserted into the rotation when Lester was placed on the DL on Aug. 18.