6/26 Cubs 5, Brewers 4
Anthony Rizzo celebrated the one-year anniversary of his call-up to the Cubs by hitting a two-run single, Ryan Sweeney added a solo home run and Kevin Gregg registered his 12th save in 12 tries to post a 5-4 victory against the Brewers, ending a nine-game losing streak at Miller Park.
Milwaukee made it interesting in the ninth. Chicago led 5-3 but Juan Francisco homered for the second time in as many nights, going deep off Gregg. Rickie Weeks doubled and moved up on a sacrifice but was forced at home, despite charging into catcher Welington Castillo like a linebacker. The Cubs were happy to take that out. Gennett then launched a ball to right, and Nate Schierholtz caught it in front of the warning track.
“What an ending,” Cubs starter Scott Feldman said. “It was nice to put that one away and keep everyone on their toes.”
“I’ll have to start shaving my head and face completely so you don’t see the gray [hair],” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “When that ball left [Gennett’s] bat, I ain’t lying, I thought it was a homer, especially in this ballpark. I like that kid. He’s going to be a good Major League player. … I’ve seen him hit some bombs. That little guy can hit the ball a long way.”
Not this time.
“In this park, you never know,” Gregg said. “I knew it wasn’t hit well and that it wasn’t a no doubter. It plays pretty short over there [in right] at times. Luckily, it stayed in.”
Gregg, who the Cubs pitchers say is the calmest person on the planet, didn’t get rattled by Francisco’s homer.
“If we win by one every time, great, we win,” he said. “As a closer, you don’t want to give up any runs, but you want to win, first and foremost.”
Gregg has been a vast improvement over Carlos Marmol, who began the season as the Cubs closer but was designated for assignment on Tuesday.
“You have a calm [with Gregg] because you know he’s not going to implode with walks and stuff like that,” Sveum said. “They’re going to have to get their hits to beat him. The times that he’s given up a run, they’ve hit the ball. He doesn’t walk guys. He knows how to pitch. He knows, ‘If I throw stirkes, they have to get hits to beat me.’ We’ve seen many many closers over the years do a nice job just because they don’t walk anybody.”
Released by the Dodgers after a solid Spring Training, Gregg has filled the vacancy created by Marmol’s ineffectiveness and a season-ending injury to Kyuji Fujikawa.
“We’re pretty fortunate to have him,” Feldman said. “He brings a lot of stability to the back end of the bullpen and also just having a veteran like that who’s been through so much adversity and overcome it and is having one of the better seasons in his career right now. You can learn a lot from guys like that.”
The Cubs are lucky to have Feldman, who is drawing interest from playoff-bound teams.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Feldman said of the trade rumors. “I’d love to stay on this team. I love the guys here. I think we’re headed in the right direction. You never know what’s going to happen but it’s kind of out of my control at htis point. I hope I’m pitching well and I hope I stay here but it’s really out of my control.”
— Carrie Muskat