Cubs take control in NL Central with 5-4 win over Brewers
MILWAUKEE — A bases-loaded walk forced in the go-ahead run for the Chicago Cubs.
A tag held on to get a runner in the split-second that his foot lifted off the base erased the potential tying run for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Manager Joe Maddon’s team tightened its grip on the NL Central by excelling at the little things in another big game at Miller Park.
Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella drew the bases-loaded walk off All-Star closer Corey Knebel with one out in the 10th inning of Chicago’s 5-4 victory Friday night. Shortstop Addison Russell’s tag on Eric Sogard at second base in the bottom of the 10th squelched a potential Brewers rally.
The Cubs hold what seems like an insurmountable five-game lead in the NL Central with nine days left in the regular season after taking their second straight tense game over the Brewers.
Maddon takes nothing for granted.
“No, not at all,” he said when he asked if he felt the division title was in hand. “I’m interested in one-game winning streaks. … I want another one-game streak tomorrow. That’s how I look at it.”
Milwaukee dropped into third in the division, 5 1/2 games behind Chicago, after St. Louis beat Pittsburgh earlier Friday.
What started as a rebuilding season in Milwaukee is ending with a postseason push that has defied expectations. They are still in the hunt for a wild-card berth, going into the night one game behind the Colorado Rockies.
But the Brewers’ hopes for a division title took another hit after another loss in 10 innings to the reigning World Series champions. They lost their third straight game overall, all by two runs or less.
“You obviously expend a lot when you lose late,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Tomorrow is a new day. We’ll come in and try to get them.”
Sogard represented the tying run with out in the 10th after reaching on a fielder’s choice. He was called out at second trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Russell appeared to hold the tag as Sogard’s foot lifted off second briefly and the call was confirmed on review.
“Sogard’s just going 100 percent there and he happened to come off the bag,” Russell said. “I just kept the tag on him. I saw his hands and foot leave the bag.”
Knebel (1-4) took the loss after allowing three walks and two hits over two innings. Carl Edwards Jr. (5-4) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Stephen Vogt and Brett Phillips hit back-to-back homers in the second for Milwaukee. Leadoff hitter Jon Jay went 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI for the Cubs.
IN A PINCH
La Stella hasn’t played much recently, but he was the perfect player off the bench to hit with the bases loaded in the 10th. His .462 on-base percentage as a pinch hitter was second-best in the majors coming into the game behind St. Louis’ Jose Martinez (.533).
“He slowed everything down and wasn’t trying to do too much. He accepted his walk,” Maddon said. “You have to be willing to do that in that situation.”
“We’re going to continue to fight … So it’s been an unbelievable series, I’m sure the fans are enjoying it. It should be two more fun ones.” — Sogard.
Cubs: Maddon said that Willson Contreras did not start after taking a foul tip off his knee in Thursday’s game, though the catcher entered the game in a double switch in the fifth.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson said he wasn’t sure how long it would take him to get back to the mound after having surgery recently to repair a partially torn labrum. Nelson suffered the injury after dislocating the shoulder while sliding back into first base during a game earlier this month. Nelson said he thought his arm would be in a sling for a few weeks, followed by five or six months of rehab before he could start a throwing program.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-5) takes the mound after coming off his longest start of season, allowing just a solo homer in 7 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win over St. Louis on Sept. 16.
Brewers: The quick-pitching style of LHP Brent Suter (3-2) could be effective against a Cubs lineup coming off a short turnaround between the games on Friday night and Saturday.