Fielder hits 42nd homer to take majors RBI lead
The Brewers avoid the sweep...
MILWAUKEE Chris Narveson had the chance to leave the Brewers in July. General manager Doug Melvin convinced him he should stay.
Narveson struck out 10 for his first win as a starter and Prince Fielder hit his 42nd homer to give him a majors-best 131 RBIs, helping the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Wednesday night.
“I think it all lies in your heart. I knew that Doug Melvin, he had always been honest with me, he’d always been upfront,” said Narveson, who got a face full of shaving cream as a congratulations from his teammates. “I knew that we could win and I wanted to be able to get back up here and put myself in position to actually compete and help out.”
Jody Gerut homered for the Brewers, who avoided a three-game sweep but had been eliminated from the postseason on Tuesday. Chicago is still mathematically alive since St. Louis lost 3-0 to Houston, but the Cardinals clinched at least a tie for the NL Central title and now have a magic number of one.
The Cubs dealt with the Milton Bradley distraction for another day.
The suspended outfielder released a statement apologizing for his behavior, but Chicago has been better off without him with three wins in four games since he was banished for the season.
Narveson (2-0) was designated for assignment by the Brewers in July, but returned last month and was sharp into the sixth inning in his third start for the Brewers. He could make two more to show he deserves consideration for the rotation next season.
“We’ll see what happens,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Sometimes when you take a backward look at things, guys get through waivers and then there’s a lot of clubs kind of kicking themselves that they didn’t pick him up.”
Narveson’s only mistake came when Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (1-3) led off the sixth inning with a homer, his first career hit.
“I’ll keep it,” Samardzija said. “I’ve got all my little league ones with how far it went and the date. We’ll add a couple feet.”
After a single by Ryan Theriot, Narveson struck out Tyler Colvin and the surging Derrek Lee to end his night. Narveson left the mound smiling after he asked catcher Jason Kendall about Samardzija’s homer.
“I asked Kendall, ‘Hey, did I get that pitch away?’ And he goes, ‘That was a bomb,’ and that was all he said, so I kind of smiled and just walked off,” Narveson said.
Lee, who is hitting .387 in September, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts against the Brewers after coming in 6 of 8 with two homers and six RBIs.
Bobby Scales’ pinch-hit RBI double off reliever David Weathers in the seventh cut Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2, but Claudio Vargas pitched the eighth and Trevor Hoffman worked around a one-out single by Jeff Baker in the ninth for his 35th save.
Fielder’s opposite-field homer in the fourth off Samardzija gave Milwaukee a 2-0 lead. He already has the franchise mark for RBIs and is two ahead of Albert Pujols.
“I think that’s the story of his year, using the whole field,” Macha said. “He’s got power to all fields.”
Gerut’s homer off Samardzija made it 3-1 in the sixth and Samardzija, making his second career start, was chased after Ryan Braun followed with a single.
“I thought he was much improved,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of the hard throwing right-hander. “He’s starting to look like a major-league pitcher, and he sure as hell looked like a major-league hitter.”
Bradley signed a $30 million, three-year contract with the Cubs in the offseason, but hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs and has been booed loudly at Wrigley Field.
The organization suspended Bradley for the season on Sunday for a series of incidents. Bradley said he signed with Chicago to help bring a title to Cubs fans, but didn’t have the season he expected and his frustration boiled over.
“I wish that I handled certain things differently,” Bradley said. “And I apologize for those things that did not work out for the better.”
-- Narveson’s 10 strikeouts were the most by a Brewers rookie since Steve Woodard had 11 on July 29, 1998, at St. Louis.
-- Cubs OF Reed Johnson doubled in his first at-bat since returning from the 15-day DL on Monday. Johnson broke his left foot on July 29 and went on the DL the next day.