MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lorenzo Cain and Travis Shaw helped Milwaukee’s offense break through against the Chicago Cubs, and Chase Anderson did the rest.
Anderson pitched seven innings of one-hit ball to capitalize on a heads-up rundown escape by Cain and a pair of two-run doubles by Shaw, and the Brewers two-hit the Cubs 4-0 on Tuesday night to take back first place in the NL Central.
Shaw had already put Chicago up 2-0 when Cain used his head and legs to escape a sticky spot in the third inning. With Christian Yelich at second, Cain hit a ball up the middle that was fielded by second baseman Javier Baez. Yelich got hung up between second and third but stayed alive through three throws before sprinting back to second base.
Cain, meanwhile, rounded first hard and fooled the Cubs into thinking he was committing to second. If both Yelich and Cain had touched second base, Cain could have been tagged out, and so pitcher Tyler Chatwood chased Yelich back to second, thinking Cain was about to end up there.
But Cain stopped a few feet short of second and ran back to first, where no Chicago players were around to field a throw from Chatwood. Yelich returned safely to second, and both players scored moments later on Shaw’s double to right.
Cain said he practiced the play when he was with the Kansas City Royals.
“I actually want to credit that play to Rusty Kuntz,” Cain said of the former first-base coach for the Royals. “It never actually happened, but for it to happen tonight was huge. It was a nice play.”
Cain said Yelich had to keep hustling or the play would not have worked. Cain said he peeked back and saw that Anthony Rizzo was not covering first base.
“That baserunning play by Cain was flat-out brilliant,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I had no idea what he was planning on doing but it was amazing. That’s seeing the field and understanding what’s happening.”
The Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Shaw’s shot that evaded diving first baseman Rizzo and rolled into the right-field corner. Milwaukee ended a seven-game skid to Chicago.
Anderson (5-5) threw a Brewers’ season-high 107 pitches. Chicago’s only hit against him was an infield chopper by Willson Contreras in the second. Anderson retired his final 17 hitters.
“We just could not mount an attack,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Anderson has been difficult against us in the past and he was again tonight. There was not a whole lot going on. Two doubles beat us.”
Anderson had lost his three previous decisions against the Cubs as the Brewers had been shut out in each game. Taylor Williams and Jacob Barnes finished up for Milwaukee with an inning each.
“My command was kind of spotty,” Anderson said. “I had a good fastball early. As I kept going the curveball came into play and the cutter a little bit. The changeup was good. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes.”
Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-5), who entered the game leading the major leagues in walks, showed better control while allowing four runs (three earned) and walking two batters in five innings.
“My last outing wasn’t pretty, but I felt like I worked on some stuff and took it into this outing,” Chatwood said.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday, and Maddon was encouraged by what he saw. “Outstanding. He threw really well,” Maddon said. “Easy gas. Great location. Good spin on his breaking ball. Very impressed.” Darvish was put on the disabled list May 23 with right triceps tendinitis. Maddon said if there’s a chance for Darvish to return before the All-Star break, “I’m into it. Whatever the doctors think.”
Brewers: RHP Matt Albers was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury and RHP Jorge Lopez was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Albers allowed five runs and three hits in the 11th inning Monday night and took the loss in Milwaukee’s 7-2 defeat. “He got to the point it was affecting him out there on the field and it’s just time to take a break,” Counsell said.
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (2-1, 3.56 ERA) will make his fourth start since replacing Darvish in the rotation. Montgomery is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his three starts, including a victory over Pittsburgh last week.
Brewers: RHP Jhoulys Chacin has emerged as the team’s ace this season (5-1, 3.58 ERA). The Brewers are 11-3 In his starts and opponents are batting .231 against him.